After secondary education in Mauritius, I applied for a scholarship to pursue technical studies in Pakistan under the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme. When we started our studies in 1970, the examining body was the West Pakistan Board of Technical Education. Travelling by plane was not commonplace in those days and most of the Mauritians going abroad made the journey by ship. We left Mauritius by Air India at night in September 1970 and reached Bombay in the midst of the night. We were greeted at the airport by Mr Issabhay Nabheebaccus, a third-year Mauritian student from the same college, who had been informed of our arrival by the college authorities.
The Government Polytechnic Institute of Rawalpindi is a huge complex covering 80 acres (with an additional 50 acres earmarked for future development). First year students were lodged three in a room in Hostel A and second year students in Hostel B while third year students were lodged two in a room in the more luxurious Hostel C. As I settled down in my room, I slowly realised that I was away from home in a boy's boarding school, alone but free, and about to start living a wonderful adventure which I had often dreamed of. Many buses refused to carry students from the city centre to the college because of the low student fare they paid, thus depriving them of higher revenues they would have received from passengers travelling longer distances.
Apart from students, the other Mauritians in Islamabad were those working at the Mauritian embassy, as well as at some other French speaking embassies. When the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, visited Pakistan in 1971, all the Mauritians living in Rawalpindi and Islamabad were invited to greet him at the airport. A strong bond of friendship linked all students, whether they were from Rawalpindi, Satellite Town, Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi. Murree was the place we visited most every winter because of the snow, which we do not have in Mauritius. During the holidays most of the local students returned to their home place and we were left alone in the hostel without any catering. During my holidays in the rural areas, I came across people living in rooms they had hollowed out of mountain sides, with a mere piece of cloth hanging over an opening to serve as a door.
But the greatest event that took place at that time was the war between Pakistan and India, leading to the creation of the state of Bangladesh.
Our parents at home became anxious, but after the war we wrote to reassure them, and they wrote back to tell us that all our letters seemed to have been opened and then roughly pasted back. All Mauritians in Rawalpindi and Islamabad went to meet the Karachi fellows at their hotel. When the war was over the Polytechnic hostel residents were asked to prepare gift boxes to be sent via the Red Cross Societey to the Pakistani prisoners of war. We were given a wonderful sendoff by our Mauritian friends in Rawalpindi and Islamabad who gathered in a hotel to treat us to dinner and offer us foreign exchange money for shopping on our trip back. After we graduated in 1974 and returned to Mauritius, the Pakistani education minister visited the institute and announced its upgrading to a technical college offering four-year courses leading to a degree of Bachelor of Technology (BTech). It was shut down in 1984 following recurrent protests by the students who usually blocked the road. Almost 26 years later, the Rawalpindi district got a polytechnic college in the public sector.
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It was a three-year full time Diploma of Associate Engineer (DAE) course at the Government Polytechnic Institute in Rawalpindi. Two of us were selected; myself for a course in Radio and Electronics, and another candidate for a course in Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning.
After the Indo-Pak war in 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh and West Pakistan became simply Pakistan, and the board became the Punjab Board of Technical Education. The Pierre Loti ship was well known for carrying many Mauritians to England for nursing studies and jobs. The taxi we travelled by had a punctured tyre on the way and as the driver got down to kick and curse it in Punjabi language, we started to learn our first foul words of the local language, which Issabhay laughingly translated for us. The campus is located on Peshawar Road, 13 Kms from the heart of Rawalpindi and 15 Kms from the center of the capital Islamabad (Rawalpindi and Islamabad are known as Twin Cities). Foreign students, or foreigners, as we were known, stayed one in a room in Hostel C as from the first year. In fact, when I was in secondary school, I used to read the books of Anthony Bukeridge about the adventures of Jennings and Darbyshire at the Linbury Court Preparatoty School. The warden was a bachelor teacher who occupied a room in Hostel C and there was also a prefect for each hostel. When the students were exasperated, they would set up a barricade in front of the college and stop all buses passing by, gathering them inside the yard and forcing them to negotiate with the Student Council and the school management. The Polytechnic guys were the last to arrive and we found ourselves at the end of the row, from where we followed all the official ceremony.
Students in Karachi were mostly from the Dow Medical College and they often came to Islamabad for their admission and medical seat formalities, staying with us at the Polytechnic Institute for this period of time. We relied on sliced loaves of bread and roasted meat, known as hunter's beef for our meals as eating outside every time would have been costly.


Sometime I would be with those at the Polytechnic, or I could be with the Lahore guys, or with those who were visiting Rawalpindi, or alone roaming in Saddar Bazar, Raja Bazar or the Malls of Rawalpindi.
In a poor family in a village, the groom arrived on horseback and the women folks would throw coins at him from the terrace as he approached. In Islamabad and Rawalpindi we witnessed very little of the war, although we were subjected to the usual curfew and other constraints, like not smoking outside at night and covering the head lamps of vehicles with brown paper for night journeys.
Ironically, it was during this war that the student community in Karachi and Rawalpindi lived some of their happiest moments.
On many nights, dancing parties were organised, the embassy employees bringing in drinks and cigarettes and others their portable hi-fi equipment.
The list of items included safety razor and blades, sewing needles, thread and scissors, nail clipper, and other similar things. Although we continued to enjoy our scholarship, other Mauritian students could no longer apply for technical studies in Pakistan under the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme. But as we had to wait for the results and collect our diplomas before returning to Mauritius, we were allowed to occupy our rooms for some more months. From Islamabad we flew by PIA to Karachi where we spent the night in a transit hotel with some of the Karachi friends. One day, the official convoy of the then President, General Ziaul Haq, got stuck there leading to the closure of the institution. Our sister Concern CHIPMENTOR is a leading repairing service centre where we repair even the dead motherboards . We have trained hundreds of students who are working successfully in service centers or have set up their own businesses and shops. We have Certified and Expert faculty that believe in more practical training  rather than only theoretical knowledge.
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The course included regular studies having classroom lectures, workshop assignments, lab experiments, and an industrial tour in Karachi, and was supplemented by a professional attachment to an industrial unit.
Under this scheme, everything was paid for us - return air tickets, hostel and course fees, an annual allowance for clothing, books and other course material, and we received a monthly stipend for meals and other expenditures. So we had no idea what exactly to expect once we boarded the plane and our parents had insisted that we take some food along with us. After dinner, we were told that there was going to be some film shooting of a song and dance sequence at the hotel and if we liked we could get a chance to see some Indian film stars.
It consists of the training blocks and workshops, the administrative block and auditorium, three hostels (for first, second and third year resident students) and one mess room, living quarters for teaching and supporting staff, football, volley-ball, hockey and cricket playgrounds, a mosque, a shop, a bank, a post office and a dispensary, all well laid out in spacious surroundings with plenty of green spaces. But due to a shortage in accommodation, I and my friend had to occupy a single room for the first year. The books vividly described life at a British boarding school and I wished I could go through something similar. Routine checks were carried out almost every night by the warden accompanied by the prefect, to see if we were in our room and studying.
Highly decorated buses are common sight in Pakistan and blasting music could always be heard from them.
Some buses did not stop, their driver firing pistol shots in the air and frightening the student rioters away. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were meatless days but the Polytechnic Canteen managed to get chicken for us for the Tuesday lunches. On many occasions football matches were organized against the staff of other embassies and, as we were short of good players, we would choose some Pakistani friends to reinforce our team. We were the last ones with whom the Prime Minister shook hands while the Pakistani president, General Yahyah Khan, watched from a short distance. We were having a practical session in class so I quietly slipped out and picked up a few of the ice pebbles which I inspected curiously. When the Lahore friends came to stay with us, we pooled our money to purchase ingredients and cooked our own food in the kitchen of the canteen. Very often I went to stay with my Pakistani friends during the holidays and it was most heart-warming to see the welcome I received everywhere, as if I was a member of the family. In a rich family in the city, the groom arrived in a lavishly decorated car with musical band in front.
In India we visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and stayed with friends at the university in New Delhi and Aligarh. The sound of sirens announcing air raids soon ceased to be taken seriously, most people thinking that the authorities were merely testing their gadgets.
I and my friend were the first to drop our boxes in the warden's office and this pleased him a lot. The next day we took another PIA flight to Nairobi and we spent the day roaming in the vicinity of our hotel and doing some shopping. The building remained closed for many years, after which the military took it over and later established the College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (CEME) to train army technicians. We are highly endured in the industry due to our quality teaching & State of Art labs . Chiptroniks offer both Chip level Laptop Repairing Course and Card Level Laptop Repairing Course.  We are the Best Laptop Repairing Institute and only we offer the 100% Job placement Assistance to our students.
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Diploma courses in eleven technologies are offered and the curriculum is a nice blend of technical, management and social studies. On long distance trips the luggage were hoisted up on the roof rack and the passengers had to pay a separate fare, which depended on the number of pieces of luggage they were carrying. It was agreed that each bus would take on board a minimum of three students, leaving it to the bus owner's discretion to take up more. When we chose to eat outside in downtown Rawalpindi, Saddar or Raja Bazaar, it was mostly meals made up of grilled meat known as Tikkas and Kebabs with whole-wheat Naan, a sort of flat bread baked in an open-pit oven.
Most often we travelled to Lahore, a six hours journey by bus, for sightseeing and to stay with friends at the Punjab University, and they would often come to spend their holidays with us in Rawalpindi. Even in Pakistan only the highest regions like Murree are heavily covered with snow in winter. As he entered the bride's place for the nuptial ceremony, he was decked with a garland made entirely with bank notes. On one or two occasions we saw bursts of black smoke far away in the sky, and our Pakistani friends assured us that dog fights were going on, that is, Pakistani and Indian fighter planes chasing and firing at each other. They were given shelter in Rawalpindi where they occupied many rooms for many days in one hotel.
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Of course, meal was served on board but I was so upset that I could not bring myself to eat.
In Karachi, we roamed about the airport until we found out that our connecting flight to Islamabad was due many hours later. Once in winter the warden came to my room and noticed that I was not wearing any warm clothes.
On my first trip in a bus, I found some empty seats at the front and quickly occupied one, wondering why the others preferred to remain standing at the back. But all too often the same scenario would repeat itself, and we really enjoyed the show because as hostel residents, we did not have to travel by bus everyday to attend college.
In town, fruit sellers also sold fresh fruit juice, with or without a pinch of salt and pepper. I still remember visiting the splendid, snow-clad mountains in Murree in winter, the Taxila museum and orchards, boating at Ayub National Park or on the canals at the Punjab University in Lahore, admiring the Tarbela dam which was under construction and staying with two Mauritian friends there who were working for the project, and spending some time in Swat, a paradisiacal nook in a lost spot in Pakistan. So many people flock there, making the place a colourful and lively one, although great precaution must be exercised on the road to avoid slipping and skidding.
Language was not a barrier as I was familiar with the Urdu language which is spoken in Mauritius also, and I tried to improve during my stay in Pakistan.
We also went through the Khyber Pass to Kabul in Afghanistan, where many (apparently smuggled) goods were sold at cheap prices. We clang to our radio receivers everyday to get the latest news, listening to both the Pakistani and Indian sides, with each one claiming that it had downed the greater number of planes, destroyed the greater number of military vehicles and other installations and captured the greater number of prisoners of war.
But they were still angry that their safety had not been taken into consideration, and one day they stormed into the office of the Mauritian ambassador, closing the door behind them, and spoke out their minds.
The hotel proprietor never minded the Mauritian revelling, but on the contrary he and his staff shared our happy moments. Up to now we had been travelling by smaller planes but the last flight was in a big Air France Boeing 747 plane which was quite a novelty at that time. The air hostess thought that I did not like the food which was being served and asked me whether I would like some vegetarian food, which I politely refused. My friend succeeded in convincing an airport employee to put us on an early flight and, to reward him, we happily got rid of our fried chicken and pastry loaf.
Although I told him that there was a heater in my room, he insisted that I come to his office after study hours to show him that I had put some warm clothes on.
The bus conductor was horrified and rushed to pull me back to the rear, yelling at me that the front seats were reserved for ladies only.
You could even choose your own fruit and ask him to extract the juice for you which you drank on the spot. But travelling to Murree by bus was quite risky as the last part of road is very slippery and there are deep ravines on the side. There are two types of schools in Pakistan, the Urdu-medium schools, and the English-medium schools for the more well-off. Diplomacy won over, and on two successive occasions they were invited to a big lunch party in a posh hotel in Islamabad.
When, after the war, the Karachi fellows left, this man became sad, then angry, and asked where they had gone. Some minutes later we boarded the Pakistan International Airline plane for Islamabad on the last lap of our journey. And just to tease him, I decked up in my best suit and marched to his office with the other culprits who had been caught on that day!
Very often, when we missed the bus at night after visiting friends or coming from the movie theatre, we would get a lift on cargo trucks in their roomy cabins.
The return down-slope journey is more hazardous and one could only admire the dexterity of the drivers as they manoeuvred to prevent the bus from skidding on the frosty road. I was at ease with both groups of students, although the Urdu-medium friends, because of their lesser fluency in English, tended to shun foreigners. Moreover, buses rarely stop on the way; they merely slow down to allow passengers to jump in or out. At the start of the journey, the passengers would loudly recite a prayer in unison and no music is played on the bus until the road becomes safe again a few kilometres away.



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