Childhood Memories of Rawalpindi

By Syed Shahid Salam, Canada

Editor’s Note: Syed Shahid Salam spent a part of his formative years in Rawalpindi Cantonment and in two boarding schools, the Convent in Murree and Burn-Hall in Abbotabad. His recollections span the period from the late 1940’s to the early 1960’s, following which he left for England to study. He regards Pindi as his home town, where his parents lived, and where two of his siblings continue to live. He now lives in Toronto, Canada.

Syed Shahid Salam, Canada

Syed Shahid Salam

My earliest memories of ‘Pindi’ go back to the time when we lived on 43 Church Road, next to the Family Wing of the CMH, and a short walking distance to GHQ where my father worked. I am going back a long time to the late 40’s and early 50’s. There were very few people around in those days; two reasons I would think; a) the low population at the time and;  b) the lingering British tradition of separating the military from the civilians into Cantonments and Cities. I don’t believe the word ‘cantonment’ is used anywhere around the world and is associated more with the British military presence in India; etymologically deriving from the Swiss word ‘canton’.

Almost the entire Cantonment area was quiet, peaceful and very secure, especially for kids. One could walk without fear anywhere and not run the risk of being accosted or kidnapped by anyone. Minimal risk of being hit by a car either. There were of course very few cars in those days, and according to the late Mr. S.K. Burki who was in the insurance business, there were a total of 32 cars registered in the whole of Pindi in 1948.

1952 Model Chevy

1952 Model Chevy.

My father was one of the fortunate few who managed to get our beige coloured early 40’s model Chevy across from India, on the train from Ferozepur. We witnessed it being taken off a wagon at Pindi station. I believe General Burki heard about it and told my father he was lucky, because he did not succeed in getting his car across. Unfortunately, I don’t have the photo of that old Chevy. My father sold that and bought another Chevy (1952 Model) in 1956  from Gen Shahid Hamid who was MGO. The photo of that 1952 model Chevy is shown here.

All the roads in the Cantonment area had very British names. The few that I remember: Gwynthomas Road, Church Road, Napier Road, Sale Road, Edwards Road, Canning Road, etc. There were two swimming pools, the Blue Lagoon and Auchinleck (named after Field Marshal Auchinleck).

Queen Victoria's Statue, Rawalpindi Cantt -1939

Queen Victoria’s Statue, Rawalpindi Cantt -1939

At the main intersection of the Mall and Murree Road stood the statue of Queen Victoria, Empress of India and close by on the Mall was a fairly large

An Old Milestone at The Mall Road, Rawalpindi Cantt

An Old Milestone at The Mall Road, Rawalpindi Cantt

cement plaque showing distances to important cities in the sub-continent. The statue’s name in Urdu was Malka ka butt (not to be confused with rear-end in English). This location also served as a gathering place for domestic servants in search of employment. After the initial road side interview, they were taken to the residence for a second interview. Those that carried a certificate from a British Officer were given preference over those without references. Not to say their culinary skills didn’t matter. At a minimum their skills had to include Aaloo Gosht, Shami kabab and koftas. Most used to rattle off a whole menu. Before they were hired, the terms of service were clarified. The average wage in those days for cooks, I believe was around Rs.20 plus of course boarding and lodging. A big sign, up on a restaurant front, near Gordon College should give some idea of living costs in those days. The sign read ” Anna Roti, Daal Muft “.

Pindi has to this day, several buildings which go back to British times and are a reminder of Indo-Gothic architecture. Some of the structures were removed, such as the Massey Gate in Saddar, named after General Massey. A few of the businesses in Saddar carried a plaque showing the Pakistan Army insignia and the words ” By Appointment to General Gracey” ” which was later changed to ” by Appointment to the Commander-in-Chief “. One, which I remember was Aziz Tailor on The Mall.

All the houses were occupied by Officers of what, in those days, were still Royal Pakistan Army Corps and Royal Pakistan Army Regiments. Several hundred British Officers stayed back to help in the transition. One of them, was a friend of the family, a Major Glendenning, who lived a few houses down from us on Church Road. I have no idea, when they dropped the ‘Royal’ prefix. I am assuming it was in March 1956 when Pakistan became a Republic.

My father was active in the Aligarh Old Boys Association and a regular at their meetings. A few photos from our family albums shows my father at a few of these gatherings.

A meeting of Old Boys Association of Aligarh University.

A meeting of Old Boys Association of Aligarh University. Author’s father Col Salam is sitting on extreme Left.

There is one photo of General Ayub leaving our house at 43 Church Road after one of the meetings. My father is in a suit at the back, on extreme right, with one hand in pocket. I believe Ayub Khan had some part to play in the founding of the Sir Syed School on the Mall.

Ayub Khan coming out of 43 Church Road, Rawalpindi Cantt.

Ayub Khan coming out of 43 Church Road, Rawalpindi Cantt.

What is the bane of existence in Pakistan these days are the panhandlers who harass you every time you step out of the house. That wasn’t the case in the old days. I don’t remember any panhandlers in Rawalpindi. The nearest it got to a panhandler was an old gentleman who came to our house on Church Road, playing the banjo, singing a war-time Irish song ” It’s a long way to Tipperary”. ‘Nearest’ because he was kind of earning his money, by providing entertainment. A tradition throughout most of the West, of playing some instrument, while people pass by and drop a coin in the hat, if they choose to do so. Gives a certain dignity to the act of begging.

The only mode of public transport in those days, within the Cantonment area, were tongas. There were no laws on the maximum number of passengers on a tonga, and, I don’t believe Pakistan has to this day any Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals’; so the poor horse used to get not one, but several whips, when the going got tough. For most kids, the tongas used to provide transport to and from school and were generally quite efficient. The fares were negotiable, so there was always the inevitable haggling at the end. Biking was another way of commuting and before the Sohrab bikes came on the market, Philips and Raleigh were the popular imported brands.

Rawalpindi was a fairly small town in the days after partition; known as a Garrison town with it’s dominant military presence. At one end of the Mall, I believe were the Courts, the kutchery and, at the other end, the Polo Ground, which is where I learnt how to drive. The main intersection of the Mall was with Murree Road which, until you hit the overhead Railway crossing was and still is part of the Cantonment. Beyond is the City, which in the old days extended to where the Hospital is. It was all farm land after that. The Mall was and is part of the Grand Trunk Road or the GT Road; described by Kipling as “such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world”. Several books have been written on this fabled highway extending from Calcutta to Kabul.

Rawalpindi Pictures: Front view of Flashman's Hotel, The Mall Road, Rawalpindi - Photos, Images of Rawalpindi

Flashman’s Hotel, The Mall Road, Rawalpindi.

On the Mall in Pindi stands the old colonial Flashman’s Hotel. According to a biography on the famous Mohan Singh Oberoi, founder of the Oberoi chain, Flashman’s was the first hotel he saw as a young man of 14 when he went went to the Dayanand Anglo Vedic School in Rawalpindi. Oberoi was born in Bhaun near Chakwal; Manmohan Singh is the other famous man from the district. Chakwal gave two great men to India, but none to Pakistan. And we mustn’t forget Mr. Gujral from nearby Jehlum.

The other hotel with a colonial touch was the Mrs. Davis Hotel, not far from the Flashman’s. The owner of the Davis Hotel also ran the Canteens (now called CSDs) in the 50s and 60s. One of these Canteens was just outside the entrance to GHQ, Gate No, 7 (near the Family Wing of CMH ), and a short walk from our house on Church Road. A lot of the products at the time were imported from Britain; the few that I remember as a kid were Mars bars, Huntley & Palmer biscuits, Kraft cheese and condensed milk.

The original owners of most of the bungalows and the old President House in Rawalpindi, were Sikhs who left for India at Partition. Their houses were declared as ‘evacuee properties’. Our house on 217 Sale Road (Now Firdosi Road)  was allotted to my father against a claim for property left behind in Ajmer. The transfer was made by the MEO’s office on payment to the Government of Rs. 63,000, which in 1961 was no small sum; considering that some years later, 2000 sq. yd plots in Islamabad were being offered for Rs 6,000. Fast forward to 1985 when I visited the Cantt Board office to question a property tax bill, I was surprised to see that while the bill was addressed to my father, the owner was listed as Mr. Sultan Singh. I was told that we weren’t the only ones whose names didn’t match, even the Pindi President’s House was still listed under Mohan Singh’s name. I read some years later that one of Mohan’s kids did visit Pindi, but was declined entry to his former property.

Map showing 217 Sale Road (Now Firdosi Road), Rawalpindi Cantonment.

Map showing 217 Sale Road (Now Firdosi Road), Rawalpindi Cantonment.

Maj Sahbir Sharif (Shaheed)

Maj Sahbir Sharif (Shaheed)

In the early 50’s we moved to the Sale Road bungalow. The house was on a very large plot of land and had a wrap-around veranda, before entry to the rooms. The land in front became a cricket field, with one of the pine trees serving as a wicket. It attracted a number of the neighbourhood kids, and some from afar. One of them was Shabbir Sharif my classmate in St. Mary’s High School. Part of our house and the flats my parents built had two important tenants; Doxiadis, the Greek Town Planners who planned the capital Islamabad and the offices of Mr. Aslam Azhar and Television Promoters Ltd. the precursor to PTV.

Syed Shahid Salam (2nd from Left) with his parents and siblings.

Syed Shahid Salam (2nd from Left) with his parents and siblings in front of flats at 217 Sale Road, Rawalpindi Cantt (January 1966).

I tell my Canadian friends that I come from a place immersed in fascinating history. Alexander’s Greek armies, Emperor Ashoka’s Buddhist missionaries, the Great Mughals from Central Asia, the Persians, the Afghans and of course the British. Explorers from China and Italy left their footprints on the Silk Road. All have left lasting legacies.

While churches have for sometime been closing their doors in the West, because of dwindling congregations, they were at one time I imagine more than just a religious symbol for the British Empire. Within a few years of the 1849 conquest of the Punjab, churches were built in Rawalpindi.

Christ Church, Lalkurti, Rawalpindi

Christ Church, Lalkurti, Rawalpindi.

The Anglican church behind the Pearl Continental, close to GHQ, was built in 1852.

Saint Paul's Church, The Mall Road, Rawalpindi Cantt, opposite Army Hockey Stadium

Saint Paul’s Church, The Mall, Rawalpindi Cantt.

And the other church stood on the Mall, next to the statue of Queen Victoria. One thing I guess one could say about the British is that while they built their places of worship, the people they ruled were just as free to build their own mosques and temples. Not interfering with people’s beliefs was one of the founding principles of British Colonial rule in India, except in the case of the inhuman practice of ‘Satti’. When we talk of the good old days, we see days of peace and happiness, of a tolerant society. Not once I believe for over a century, since those churches were built, were they ever attacked or vandalized.

We lived in a safe environment, there were no barricades anywhere. I remember, when my mother’s first cousin General Akbar Khan (PA 1) was visiting in the early 60’s and my parent’s asked me to take him to the President’s House, next to the Murree Brewery,

Murree Brewery, National Park Road, Rawalpindi

Murree Brewery, National Park Road, Rawalpindi.

I drove straight up to the gates of Ayub Khan’s house, without any hindrance. Ayub was a much admired leader in the West. In 2008, while walking through the grounds of Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s House in Ottawa, I was pleasantly surprised to see an Elm tree planted by Ayub in September 1962.

The generation that grew up in Pindi in the days shortly after Partition will have grown up seeing the vestiges of the Empire. The British presence in the Pakistan part of the sub-continent was relatively short (1849-1947 ); yet it left behind an imprint which has effected all our lives. The missionary schools have produced a great majority of Pakistan’s ruling elite, including my own, St. Mary’s High School, Rawalpindi and Burn-Hall, Abbottabad.

From the days of Alexander to the current; in the long march of history we are but a tiny speck along the road. In the words of Omar Khayyam:

“For in and out, above, about, below
Tis nothing but a magic shadow-show
Played in a box whose candle is the sun
Round which we phantom figures come and go”or in the words of Shakespeare:
Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.

I’d like to take this opportunity to invite the old nostalgic brothers who have made Canada their new home to a social get-together in Toronto.

Related Pages:
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi 
Rawalpindi Blog 

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  1. Neelofar Rehman says:

    Dear Shahid Saheb.Thank you for bringing back my childhood memories.I was born at the HolFamily Hospital in 1953.My father was the co owner of Mrs.Davies with his older brother.They were both very good friends of your father Col.Salam who used to visit them often at the hotel in the evenings.I have very vague memories of him and your mother. You and your older brother Khalid Salam were friends with my cousin Mohsin Shaikh. I left Pindi in 1980 when I got married.At that time my father had wound up the hotel because of old age and my parents were living in Satellite Town.
    Yes, Pindi is not the same anymore.Can’t even recognise the roads but some old landmarks are still there.
    I might be having a few old photos of your father with my dad.I can send them to you if you send me your email address.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Good to hear from you Neelofer. Our families have known each other since,I believe the late 40’s. Your Dad, Idris Uncle was also, if I remember right, the owner or managing agent for the Army Store, just outside of GHQ..We visited the Mrs.Davies Hotel many times and stayed there on a couple of occasions. Idris Sahab was always hospitable. Zubair and Yusuf Sahab were with us in London, All of the siblings were well known to us, I heard that Naeem )?) had moved to Canada. Any info about him or his family? My email address is; I’d love to see any photos that you may have.
      I am visiting Karachi these days and my contact# is 0331 4822333. Shahid

  2. yasmindeieso says:

    Dear sir I 110% agree with you about our lovely was most parity and peaceful city was.I remember even 1980.its was haven to us we can go alone sadder,bank road for hoping.clean and well respected people.friendly atmosphere.I remember to buying books on bank road are right it was memberble remark day but sadly our peaceful city is Chang .miss all the gracefulness of mall road how’s use to look like you are in different country.I dad use to work in cantonment office.we was feel proud to live in cantonment area.we to f g girls high school which use to call c b girls you article takes me old golden days thanks for sharing with us .r a bazer 302
    Home no was were our aunty use to live.ho sir g I can talk and talk about my of friendly lovely carrying,housepatble peoples.wish it like before but its. Chang.some for good but lot for bad.hope our people think and trying to make it butter like our grand and our parents did.share and care .not use and abuse.
    Hope you will share more memory’s and old picture which makes our memories live for our homeland and our parity in UK but my heart is in Pindi

  3. Syed Haseeb Ali Shah says:

    Later on The 217 was divided in to many plots and i live on one of them so much impressed about what you wrote, “your research work” live long and do share your beautiful memories

  4. Dorothy McMenamin (nee Doyle), New Zealand. says:

    Lovely to read this account of Pindi, where I was born in late 1947, and subsequently attended Station School until Senior Cambridge in 1963, when my family emigrated to England. I revisited Pindi in 1975 and then again this year…. it certainly is no longer the sleepy little town that I remember growing up in… where on a midsummer day after a monsoon rain on a clear day one could see the everlasting snows gleaming in the distance. Wonderful memories of my childhood in Morgah and Pindi. I also had the great pleasure of meeting Ali AKbar and obtaining a copy of his beautiful book.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      You are right, it was a sleepy little town, and we all felt very safe. The Station school was close to the RA bazaar; as a kid one doesn’t think much about the origin of names; but I believe the RA stands for Royal Artillery. Except for a few, most British names have disappeared or shall I say, been replaced by local names. The Murree Road began, where Queen Victoria’s statue stood on the Mall, and went all the way to Murree. Part of it now lies under the waters of the Rawal lake. Recently I met with a woman in Toronto who said she was born in India; I asked her where, and she said Murree. She knew it was in Pakistan now, but India in 1944 when she was born. Her father a British doctor with the Indian Military.
      You mention Morgah, and I assume some connection with the Attock Oil Company.

  5. Mohammad Ali Khan says:

    Too nostalgic, a dream. Nevertheless, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

  6. Ghias uddin Babar says:

    Dear Sir,
    Looks to be a very well researched article. Though I find it all out of your heart reflecting your sweet and nostalgic memories, which you want to reach out physically but you can’t and a reader finds “a player” looking for a way out and solace and ending up in the “candle lights of sun” and “shadow shows” of the poetry of Omar Khayyam and Shakespeare. Addition of family snaps and the snaps of other historical buildings and touching down pages of history in a very balanced manner all turn your write up very absorbing, informative and interesting especially for those who have some idea of the days you happened to be strolling, talking and sharing. It is so soothing and satisfying to go back in the days once we lived a normal civilized life without barricades, perimeter fences, scanners, CCTVs, security checks, high walls and all that.
    We were all human beings first and took others as such without caste, colour and creed. No one ever raised any objection to build a church or a mosque. All these were taken to be houses of God and places of worship. One wont believe on’es ears and eyes – simply unbelievable these days without any doubt.
    I lived on Peshawar Road for about a year with my parents near Cheering Cross in 1961. A few houses there were known as Robert Barracks (ours was 32 Robert Barracks). Initially my father was in RIASC, then RPASC and then ASC. Certainly this time period is much later. Yet your old days and your times were in its pure and original form and your expression and description add to the beauty of your nostalgic memories. Neither those times will ever come back nor those people. They will ever live in our memories and also in so touching writings like this one.
    I did not see that statue in Pindi because you were talking about your old days. However, I did see statue of Queen Victoria on The Mall next to Assembly Hall Lahore. It was known as “Malka da butt” and this one again with “tt”!
    Thanking you and best regards,

  7. Mehboob Qadir says:

    It is sweetly nostalgic. Rawalpindi then was a sleepy British Cantt. It had a quiet dignity, an environment of correctness and an aristocratic but Spartan feel in the air. There was confidence in the natural feeling of security, belief in the quality of what one bought and character in the bazaar whether Lalkurti, the Mall or Bunni.
    All that have been sadly lost. We have shrunk into our shells, enclosed in barbed wired walls and overseen by CCTV cameras. There are guards, check posts and guns all over the place. What a pity.
    One wishes the writer had talked something about the life in bazaars, parks and the fabled Rawalpindi Club too. I know an old baker on Kashmir Road who still dresses up in a suit, a matching necktie and never fails to greet and ask about how was the weather like.

  8. Syed Abid Salam says:

    Nazar Rathore,
    It’s good to reconnect on my brothers write-up sponsored by Col Rashid Cheema an old friend. I am glad you attended the book launching of my old St. Mary’s classmate Ali Akbar, which I missed owing to visit to Lahore. Will see you in your new premises soon.

  9. Rawul Pindee, The Raj Years by Ali Akbar Khan being launched today at the Islamabad Club Auditorium at 4 pm

  10. Yousuf Khan says:

    I’m looking for vintage Photographs of Rotary Club Rawalpindi charter banquet was held at Flashman’s hotel on Friday 26 June, 1953 Gen Ayub Khan was chief guest.

  11. Ali Akbar Khan has recently written a book on ‘Rawul Pindee’ covering the Raj years. beautifully bound coffee table book with a multitude of photos from the era, as well as well written/researched articles on people and places of this old garrison town. I was lucky to get a copy (it wont be in the bookshops for at least another month or two) from the author. The book project has support of Murree Brewery. If you wish to order a copy, Ali Akbar can be contacted at:

  12. Christine St. Clair-Smith says:

    I have read every comment and these evoked great emotion in me. I was born in Meerut but spent most of my early life in Khaur, Chaklala and Rawalpindi. We lived briefly on Craig Road and then at 154-E Mackeson Road opposite the Calcutta Dufttar. I was lucky to attend The Station School with some amazing teachers like the Head Teacher Miss Spendlove, until we left Pakistan in 1952 for Australia.
    Flashman’s, Mrs. Davis’s Hotel, Lal Kurti and Saddar Bazaars were well loved haunts. We attended Christ Church twice each Sunday where my mother sang in the choir. We used to spend a lot of time in Gawal Mandi where my father’s partner and his family lived or in Shamshabad. My father was a bookmaker and most Saturdays were spent at the Race Course. I consider myself to have had the safest, most loved childhood ever and was provided with an amazing education because of where and how I was brought up.
    I am now 75 and still speak Urdu and Hindko, my Punjabi and Pushto have got lost enroute to old age. Please keep the memories of ‘Pindi’ coming.

    • Shahid Salam (Canada) says:

      Thank you Christine for your comments. Good to know that you have such fond memories of Pindi. We do have one thing in common, i.e. we were both born in Meerut. My Dad was posted there in the Army. So, I guess I was born at the CMH (Combined Military Hospital).
      I went to the Presentation Convent not far from Christ Church, for my initial schooling and later to the Convent in Murree as a boarder and then on to Burn-Hall in Abbotabad. The school was run by Catholic missionaries from Mill Hill, London. A few schoolmates moved to Australia and I am in contact with one of them, who lives in Sydney.
      You have a remarkable memory, to remember all those names and your language skills are better than mine; Hindko is totally foreign to me.

      • Afzaal Khan says:

        Regrettably had no luck tracing the Mill Hill Order in London, most of our English teachers at St. Mary’s Cambridge School were from there, occasionally Irishman.

        • Afzaal Khan says:

          Family connection with you I believe, if you can connect, I am Brig Afzal Khan’s son Afzaal.

        • Khalid Jaffery says:

          Khalid Jaffery here. If I remember correctly, Mill Hill is near Hendon, North London and I believe till a few years ago, Father Naylor was still there. Please correct me if I am wrong.

          • Afzaal Khan says:

            Khalid Jaffery,
            Sadly there was no institute or building there belonging to the Order of Mill Hill or awareness of Fathers of Mill Hill London.

            • Christine St.Clair-Smith says:

              Hi, there is a Catholic Community House in Mill Hill which I used to visit regularly in the 70’s. There were about 20 to 30 priests living there and it had a large, regular congregation. Unfortunately I stopped my visits when my relative (a priest) died. I did not get to know many of the other residents so am unable to help any further.

    • Sitwat Bushy Yusafzai says:

      So excited to read that you were from Station School. You must have left by the time I was admitted there in 1954. Miss Spendlove was the Principal and she was followed by Miss Sayle who also trained us at Girl Guides. A dear friend, Dorothy Doyle, now Macnemanim, also left eventually for Australia and now resides in New Zealand.
      On television I once heard Romilla Thapar, who is considered a most eminent Indian historian, being interviewed. She said that she and her family lived on Murree Road in Pindi and she used to cycle to Station School every day. This would be considered one of the labours of Hercules in this day and age! She also said that this was a school where she was made to think…indeed a great compliment coming from her!

      • Hashim Khan says:

        I was born in Pindi in 1953 and lived in the vicinity of MH (Military Hospital) till I myself was a father of three. Take a couple of year out when I was in PMA and postings out of Pindi. My father was in AMC and remained posted to MH from 1950 till he retired in 1981. Our house was on Parade Road just about 200 meters from Station School. What days!! My usual route to Saddar Bazaar used to be via Station School in a hope to see some very pretty girls. Childhood tharak.

        • Christine St.Clair-Smith says:

          Sitwat Bushy Yusafzai,
          Good to hear from you. I also knew Miss Sayle. When I came to the U.K. in 1961 I used to visit Miss Spendlove in her retirement home. Dorothy Doyle’s father was a longstanding family friend and our family doctor. I remember Parade Road. Was Miss Paul still teaching in Station School? She was the teacher who realized I couldn’t read Urdu but had memorised the reading books we used.
          I too would sometimes ride my cycle to school accompanied by our bearer, ride my pony or go on the school bus which was exciting when we overtook the Presentation Convent bus and we would shout at each other……. Learning from books was not the main agenda – we were expected to learn and formulate opinions and talk about things. A good basis for our futures.

  13. Susan Pereyra says:

    Wow, I did not know Rawalpindi where I was born is so rich in history. I was a student in the Presentation Convent. My grandfather was a medical doctor in the British Army (Maj. R.H Montgomery) before Partition. l lived in the GHQ area for the best part of my life. I gave birth to my son in the GHQ hospital, he also attended the Saint Mary’s School for a few years before we moved to the USA.
    Thank you for this education, much appreciated.

    • Syed Shahid Salam (Canada) says:

      Thank you for your comments. Yes Pindi has a rich history. It became important as the Headquarters of the British Indian Army’s Northern Command and after Partition the Headquarters of the Pakistan Army. I am not too sure of it’s history prior to that, but I assume it was on the route for conquerors who invaded India through the Khyber Pass. Taxila, which is a short distance was of course the seat of Buddhist civilization.
      Many of the buildings built in the days of the Raj are still standing firmly in Pakistan. Whatever the British did, I’d say they did a good job; the roads, the bridges, the railways, the schools, the hospitals and the system of administration.
      St. Mary’s School has produced some of Pakistan’s most outstanding students who have gone on to lead very successful lives. Two of it’s legendary teachers were the Flanagan sisters. I attended St. Mary’s for a short time, before going on to Burn-Hall in Abbottabad.

  14. Tahmeena Malik says:

    What a wonderful way to relive so many memories. I first started my school called Jack and Jill in the Peace Guest hostel on Firdousi Road…. So many references that one can relate to. Now live on Adamji Road. Thank you for a delightful read.

  15. Sitwat Bushy Yusafzai says:

    Memories, as one has of places one spent the initial years of one’s life, manage to keep one secure and centred through the ups and downs of one’s existence. I have been a Pindi-ite since I was five in 1953 right upto the present time, except for about a decade and a half in between.
    Although I don’t live in the quintessential Rawalpindi…more towards Islamabad…there is not much that reminds one of the sweet, simple and sunny Cantonment where one grew up. We lived on Brickfield Road, which was behind the MH , and till I last visited, was still surprisingly called by its British- colonial name…thank goodness for this neglect! My siblings and I went to Station School which was nearby and my sister and I left the school only after we completed our Senior Cambridge, although we moved houses twice during my father’s stint at GHQ until his retirement in the early seventies. School seems so far away and long ago…not due to consideration of time but due to being aeons apart in mind sets and in perceptions. Obviously, ours was a professional middle class family. Yet the fruits we received through curricular and co-curricular activities at school were priceless. We all had to play a percussion instrument to be part of a band; singing and dancing(of the Scottish kind) classes were held weekly as were fine art classes; as Girl Guides we often went to Topi ( now Ayub National) Park for practicing our skills of tracking.
    The smell of boiled sweets in Fazal Karim and Sons, the sight of jams, squashes and all manner of colourful edibles at Eesajees, the well-loved London Book Company with its quiet elegance and ubiquitous fragrance of books were places on the beaten track in Saddar. For groceries we often drove into the Massey Gate area…with the dinginess of the arches made haunting by an occasional bat swinging down upon us!
    The Pindi Club was so comfort level as was the Polo ground at the Race Course where we spent many a winter afternoon watching matches in which my father also participated. All in all a genteel life in a genteel town. I must add though that this was a life not far removed from the colonial times as it had not been long since the British had accorded us our independence. Yet, there was no concept of privilege nor a sense of any stuffy importance…well illustrated by the fact that when we went to the Pakistan Day Parade,, held at first on Parade Road and later at the Race Course on Peshawer Road…we children were made by our parents to go and sit in the back rows, simply to instil in us the reality that WE were not officers but only children of officers. Sorry for the ramble but what a pleasant Memory Lane that was.

  16. Tahir Usman says:

    Fantastic article. As a Pindiite having grown up in Lalazar Colony with family still there appreciated,

  17. John Roberts says:

    Thank you for making me relive my fantastic growing up in a marvellous place such as Rawalpindi. I was one of the Anglos that was living in Shores Hotel with my parents. went to Presentation Convent Murree & then St. Mary’s School in Chaklala & then Murree Road. I remember Mr. Rogers very well. Always got punished for my Maths. Good memories!!!

    • Shahid Salam ( Canada ) says:

      I used to get tuition from Mr. Rogers at his house behind Sir Syed School. I believe he used to live with his Mom. I am not sure what I’d done in class one cold winter morning when his cane came down on my knuckles.
      God bless him for sticking it out in Pakistan. I believe he returned to England later.

  18. Shahid Ahmad says:

    Dear Shahid Sahib,

    Wonderful article. I saw a reference to a Lt Col Azmi, must be Lt Col MB Azmi, he passed away quite a few years back, his eldest son Rizwan Azmi is either Head of Surgery or Chief Surgeon at Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi. Col Azmi was our family doctor and a thorough gentleman. The story was that he once told Gen Musa to wait as he was already busy with a patient, led to his career being cut short with the Army.

    217 C Tufail Road was my in-laws house and I believe I got married in the lawn of your house in 1980! My father-in-law was Mr. Ishaq Khan and he bought about 500 yards plot from your father and built the house around 1968 or so.

    Best regards,

    • Shahid Salam ( Canada ) says:

      Thank you for your comment. I was away in England in the 60’s, but my brother tells me that he does remember Mr. Ishaq. One of the plots was sold to Mr. Obaidullah the owner of Lockwoods Hotel in Murree.
      Col. Azmi was our neighbour at 43 Church Road.

  19. Hashim Khan. says:

    Gen Mian’s elder son was Khalid Mian. We went to college together.

  20. Kamal Khan says:

    Dear Shahid Salam,
    What a wonderful description of Pindi from the days past, back in the 1950’s.
    I, too, lived with my family near the CMH, where my father (then Lt Col later Maj Gen Mohammad Anis-ur-Rehman Khan) was an Anesthesiologist. Our family originally came from UP (India) but my father opted for Pakistan after the Partition and was posted to Pindi for a number of years in the late 1950’s. I remember that we also lived at Church Road but have forgotten the exact number of the house. I’m sure your father knew mine since they both were in the AMC and went to Aligarh around the same time.
    Your details about the Canteen which was just round the corner from Church Road, behind the GHQ, and all the foreign goodies like condensed milk and chocolates, brought back a rush of childhood memories that I haven’t thought about in ages. I also went to St. Mary’s (Murree Road) – Class of 1960 – where we were fortunate enough to have Mr. Rogers and Father Burns as the best ´teachers one could wish for.
    Roads with names like Gwynthomas Road, Church Road, etc, still remind me of those good old days when one could wander or cycle safely through the Cantonment streets without much traffic to worry about, no matter how late.
    The Pindi Club was also a nice place with a decent swimming pool, where I learnt to swim and where one could order a plate of potato chips and a cold refreshing glass of Vimto with ice cubes, which were luxuries back in the 1950’s. They also used to hold New Year Fancy Dress parties for kids, which gave my mother a chance to dress up my sister and myself in outrageous costumes !!
    Yes, those were great times to grow up in Pindi.
    Thanks once again for your outstanding article.

    • Shahid Salam (Canada) says:

      Thank you Kamal. I think we all should thank Col Cheema for providing us this excellent Blog to reconnect with our past. Yes, Pindi was a great place in those years after Partition.
      Mr. Rogers was good with the cane too and I still remember the sting when he struck me one cold winter morning. My brother and myself moved in 1956 to boarding at Burn-Hall in Abbottabad; who would have thought that Bin Laden would have chosen a spot close by for his hide-out. I checked with my brother and he does remember your family and tells me that you all moved to Harley Street. Gen. Mian’s wife was my mother’s second cousin and he was the surgeon when I had my appendix removed. It is quite possible that your Dad may have given me the anesthesia, which in those days was holding something over the nose and pressing it down.
      My Dad incidentally was not AMC but ASC, i.e. Army Service Corps.
      Church Road, I believe, extended to the corner of Presentation Convent. We were on 43 Church Road. Our neighbour was a doctor, Lt. Col Azmi.

      • Kamal Khan says:

        Dear Shahid,
        First of all, I would like to start off by acknowledging and thanking Col Cheema for this great Blog.
        Yes, you are quite right about the fact that we moved to 1A Harley Street just behind Gen. Mian’s house which was No. 1. I vividly remember his car which was a Buick and his son Rafi (I think that was his name) who was some years older than me.
        Our large house which was later rented out as a school, on what is now Kiyani Road, has recently been torn down and the property has been sold off into a number of minor plots.
        Mr. Rogers was certainly strict and nearly all the pupils in my class got a few whacks once in while (me included), but we all did learn a lot of Maths, Science and Geography through him.
        I’m sure it must have been my father that gave you the anesthesia during your operation. My sister went to Presentation Convent and I vaguely seem to remember Lt.Col Azmi.
        Gen Shaukat Hasan, Col. Mumtaz Husain and Col. Dar – all AMC – were friends of the Family.
        By the way, does anybody in your aamily remember Major Javaid Khattak also ASC ?

  21. Farzana Altaf says:

    “Nostalgia – its delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.”
    ― Don Draper

    • Shahid Salam (Canada) says:

      Thank you Farzana. The Greeks are right; nostalgia is more than a recollection, it is a longing for the past. I saw your name on Farid Shah’s, a cousin’s Facebook page. Is that a coincidence?

    • Sorry to have blown your bubble.

      The word “nostalgia” comes from two Greek roots: νόστος, nóstos (“return home”) and ἄλγος, álgos (“longing”).

      In spite of its Greek roots, the word “nostalgia” did not originate in ancient Greece. “Nostalgia” is only pseudo-Greek, or nostalgically Greek. The word was coined by the ambitious Swiss student Johannes Hofer in his medical dissertation in 1688.

      Hofer also suggested monomania and philopatridomania to describe the same symptoms; luckily, the latter failed to enter common parlance.

      It would not occur to us to demand a prescription for nostalgia. Yet in the 17th century, nostalgia was considered to be a curable disease, akin to a severe common cold. Swiss doctors believed that opium, leeches, and a journey to the Swiss Alps would take care of nostalgic symptoms. By the end of the 18th century, doctors discovered that a return home did not always cure the nostalgics, sometimes it killed them (especially when patriotic doctors misdiagnosed tuberculosis as nostalgia).

      Just as today genetic researchers hope to identify genes coding for medical conditions, social behavior, and even sexual orientation, so the doctors in the 18th and 19th centuries looked for a single cause, for one “pathological bone.” Yet they failed to find the locus of nostalgia in their patient’s mind or body. One doctor claimed that nostalgia was a “hypochondria of the heart,” which thrives on its symptoms. From a treatable sickness, nostalgia turned into an incurable disease.

  22. Dr. Nadeem Rehman says:

    Dear Sahaid,
    I am Nadeem Rehman s/o Hameed-ur-Rehman, your father’s close friend and negbiour. I am currently in Tehran with UN. Extremely interesting article. A flashback of Pindi’s sweet memories. I played cricket in lush green lawns of your house at Sale Road. By the way your house is on two roads; Magdalla Road (now Tufail Road) and Sale Road (now Firdusi Road).
    I think you missed places in your article:-
    1. Motel in your neighbor hood where majority of the residents were Christians, I forget the name.
    2. Gurgson Dry Cleaning shop in Saddar close to Flahman’s Hotel.
    3. Lalkurti shopping area, at that time consisted of a few shops, now a busy shopping area.
    But I agree, Pindi used to be a nice quiet town at that time, I miss it.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Hello Nadeem, It was good to hear from you. Hameed Sahab as you probably know was very dear to us; like family. He had a great sense of humour and an infectious laughter. We all used to love his company. The Motel you are thinking of was called Shores Hotel.
      There is a sizeable Iranian community in the Toronto area and they have adjusted very well to life in Canada.
      Please keep in touch. My email addess is

  23. Shahid Bhai,
    Thank you for posting such a remarkable article about Rawalpindi. As you know that 217 Sale Road (Firdausi Road) now have 16 houses of 600 yards each on its area, and my house is also on its site and address is 217/7, Tufail Road (it opens on Tufail Road). Do drop in some time.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Hello Haseeb,
      I am glad you enjoyed reading the article and thank you for the invitation. Whenever I am next in Rawalpindi, I shall InshaAllah get in touch. Please pass on your contact number.
      My email address is

    • Sonny Mcauley says:

      Hi Haseeb, were you in st. Marys Murree road for a while? regards Andrew

  24. Fauzia Ikram says:

    We grew up in in of your houses in Rawalpindi on Firdousi Road. My father, Fiza Ahmad Khan of PIA, lived in the last house, of four, and we played in aunty Salam’s big lawns.
    Great article, lots of memories, thank you.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Thank you Fauzia for the encouraging words. I do remember your father; he was a fine gentleman.
      My mother was very attached to the house. It was our family home for over half a century.
      I guess we all move on in life. All the people here in North America have their roots in Europe and Africa; the more recent immigrants are from Asia and I am one of them. Attachment to the home country continues for a long, long time; it does fade away after several generations.

      • Fauzia Ikram says:

        Thank you for remembering my father, and taking time to reply, my memories of your house and the experiences we had, are still there, even though we moved when I was 10, those friends we made for a life time, still in touch, even though we moved to so many different locations and countries after that, the only sad part, that place is no more there, I went there a long time ago just to see, couldn’t even recognize it, but is still there in our memories. Thank you.

  25. Col (R) Ashraf Jan says:

    Dear Shahid Bhai,
    As your neighbour in years gone by I must say you have done a commendable job by writing this lovely article. Suddenly you have a host of Pindi-ites rallying to your flag.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Thank you Ashraf for the appreciation. Any idea where Javed Alam ( a cousin of yours I believe ? ) is? We were classmates in Burn-Hall. I had heard he had moved to the U.S.

  26. Faisal Tirmizi, USA says:

    An extremely touching piece of writing. An old Pindiwaal and Saint Marian, Pindi will always have a special place. As my wife often says, “One may take Faisal out of Pindi but can never take Pindi out of him.” Interestingly I have always taken it as a compliment. During my training at the Civil Services Academy, Lahore I used to feel elated the moment I crossed Jhelum and felt the cool winds of Potohar on my face. Pindi was and continues to inspire me.

    Dr. Amjad wrote an excellent book on Peshawar,”Yak Shar e Arzoo”. Perhaps Mr. Salam can consider writing something on Pindi. My late father Brig Syed Mustanir Ahmed Tirmizi had photographs of his friends swimming and fishing in Nullah Leh from the 1940s. Its hard to imagine now. Even now when I am in Pakistan, I take out time to discover old streets of Pindi.

    • Syed Shahid Salam, Canada says:

      Thank you Faisal for the appreciation. I guess all of us humans have a certain affinity to the place where we grew up; if it conjures up memories which are pleasant.

      Those were the days when one could travel on a Pakistani passport to any destination in the world.

      My email address is and we could, if you like, keep in touch.

      • Faisal Tirmizi, USA says:

        Dear Syed Shahid Salaam Sahib,
        I agree with your comments that one always feels affinity to where one has grown up.
        I would love to get connected with you electronically. Have sent you a message on your email address.
        Best regards.

  27. Here is a map of the Pindi from the Times you remember with the names intact..

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Thank you Rehan. A number of road names in Canada are the same as those on the Pindi map, owing to shared links with Britain.

  28. Sardar Hasan says:

    I was born in CMH Chaklala in 1975, I could see only the last remnants of the Pindi described here. Beautiful piece.

    If I may quibble with one point: the assertion that Chakwal gave no great men to Pakistan is disputable. I note that among others, Air Marshal Nur Khan, Abdul Khaliq (“the fastest man in Asia”) and Justice Qazi Mohammed Gul came from there.

  29. Shahid Salam and all others, thanks a lot for the old Memories. It was also a pleasure to see Brig Humayun’s comments.

  30. Col (R) Sohail Qureshi, VA, USA says:

    Dear Mr. Shahid Salam,
    It is a great article about your childhood nostalgic memories of Rawalpindi.
    Buck up, Col Cheema, for creating this website.

  31. Brig (R) Humayun Malik, Avn says:

    I returned in Rawalpindi in 1964 and joined Gordon College for 2nd year F.Sc. Gordon College was a great institution. I had come from Karachi (St. Patrick’s College) and found the local boys limited in English vocabulary and DRESS! Finding my inability to cope with education I applied for the PMA and some how I was selected. Little did I know that after you get your commission the army continues to ‘educate’ you for ever and ever!
    We lived at 153 A Mackson Road (spelling may be wrong) opposite Ministry of Defence, called “Calcutta dafter” as my father was an army officer. The name of the road now is Adamjee Road. As my father used to walk to his office I was given the onerous task of collection of my sisters from different colleges. When my father’s job changed and he needed the car to go to GHQ, I started to use my 3 speed Raleigh bicycle. What a bike!

    I’ve lost many Pindi waals but now I still have some REAL childhood friends from that time. They are still my greatest asset. The other day I was called to celebrate the 40th Wedding anniversary of a very dear friend. He is one of my success stories .

  32. Brig (r) Hashim Khan, Avn says:

    When we started erasing the traces of British Raj from Pakistan by renaming our roads and removing statues, ‘The Malka But’ was removed from its location and virtually dumped in the back yard of St. Joseph School on Murree Road. It was traced by a British High Commissioner Barrington (I don’t remember his full name) and it was moved to the British Embassy.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Yes, I do remember the name Barrington and a Google search shows a Sir Nicholas Barrington as Ambassador ( when we were out of the Commonwealth ) and later High Commissioner from ’87 to ’94. I guess one advantage ( if one could call it that ) of knowing all the British road names is that here in Canada, when I see exactly the same names, it rings a bell.
      We can debate whether the Raj was good or bad or a mix of the two, but whatever it was, it was part of our history and I would think the proper place for the statue should have been our own Museum and not the British High Commission.

    • Yes Hashim bhai, it is still placed inside the British High Commission 🙂

  33. Maj (R) Tanvir Talat,1st SSC says:

    Well done, Mr Shahid Salam. A very good article by you. Being a soldier’s son too, I regard you as family. My 1st admission was also in Burnhall.
    Thanks Col Cheema for creating this Blog on Pindi. Yes, you are right, after Mianwali Blog, we will start Sargodha Blog and of course the united states of Chakwal Blog.

  34. Hasan Jawaid (USA),1st SSC says:

    We are a few hours away from the boisterousness of 2014 here in US but Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope and pray that new year brings peace and prosperity to Pakistan and love and harmony returns that seems to be slipping away from our social fabric. Ameen.

  35. Hello All Rawalpindities,

    If you wish to see the Historical Pics of Rawalpindi/Islamabad and all other cities of Pakistan then do visit my Facebook Page “My Historical Pakistan” where you will find tons of pics. If you wish to contribute the pics from your personal Archives, Please do send me the pics at

    Enjoy the pics.

  36. A great contribution. I shall write about my memories of House No. T 285, where I grew up. It was a haunted house, I still remember vividly, what I saw as 3 years old kid. The haunted house is located in Mohallah Shah Chan Chirag close to the tomb of Hazarat Shah Chan Chiragh. The scary events which are printed on my mind as of yesterday.

  37. Michael Ashley Pushong says:

    Your article on Pindi brought back memories flooding back. When my father opted to go to Pakistan in 1947, Pindi was the place of our arrival, as there were no houses available we were housed in massive tents in the railway colony of Westridge. I remember all the familiar names and places you mentioned the Auchinlenck swimming pool where I won 1st prize in a diving competition. I remember Ayub Khan very well before he became President. My mother worked for him for several years, of course St. Mary’s Cambridge School for Boys is where I did my Senior Cambridge before that at the Presentation Convent in Lal Kurti.
    I thank you for your”re informative article and the memories you brought back. Keep up the good work.

  38. Hasan Jawaid (USA) says:

    Sir, your vivid description has taken me back to 70’s. I did not live in Pindi for extended period of time as most readers seem to have but visited Pindi on a frequent basis and enjoyed it for its proximity and being hub to many other cities around it.
    My aunt was Lt. Col in Pindi CMH at the time and it was easy for us to stop over for days and sometimes months together at her place during our school and college break before continuing our journey to Murree, Peshawar, Gujranwala and Wah to see other relatives. I reminisce even this day the time we spent in Pindi visiting places you have mentioned with my cousins who were born and raised there and knew the city in and out, so to speak.
    What a memorable city it was and still is. Please write more about it.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Mr. Jawaid, Thank you for your feedback.
      Pindi does have an edge over the other cities of Pakistan because of it’s proximity to the northern areas, wherein lies most of our country’s natural beauty. The summer resorts or what the British called ‘Hill Stations’, an appellation we continue to use, are within a couple of hours drive and, the Margallas with an elevation of about 3500 ft are right next door for those looking for instant relief from the heat.
      Pindi is also used as a kind of launching pad by mountaineering teams.
      Climate-wise too I’d say it has an edge over the other cities; it’s not as hot as Lahore; and it has four seasons, unlike steamy Karachi .

  39. Azam Gill, France says:

    Dear Shahid Salam Sahib,
    Thank you for sharing your memories of a time in Pindi which is a segment of a decent era we all yearn for these days. Although I never lived in Pindi, I do have potted memories of much that might be miscellaneous trivia, but relevant to many readers; Mrs. Davis Hotel, Falashman’s, Gown House, Pindi’s taxi service, Gordon College, Uncle Ashraf, Master Khuda Bakhsh … . You have inspired me to find the time and record it.
    And Cheema Jee, once again, you deserve to be promoted!

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Thank you Mr. Gill,
      I am thankful to Col Rashid Cheema for providing us with this forum where we can share our reminiscences. With advancing age the memory can begin to play tricks; I am reminded of the inimitable French singer Maurice Chevalier’s “I remember it well” from the musical movie/stage play “Gigi”. I am not sure if it is available on YouTube; it used to be.

  40. Yousuf Ibnul Hasan says:

    A remarkable collection of golden memories of Rawalpindi which is also my birth place. Much I remember and what I forgot I recalled. The city was peaceful and wonderful with a touch of class of its time. I use to live at 1 Hilal Road, adjacent of ISPR as my father was Staff Officer at the ISPR Major Ibnul Hasan and near my home were the Hockey Ground, the Pindi Club, the Cricket Stadium and the Army Museum. I still remember the Kamran Sweets and Super’s. Stylish tailors and shoe makers who never be born again as their clothing and shoes are still worn by people of that time without any change. That was the art of expertise.
    Mr. Syed Shahid Salam I am 60 now but after reading your article three times, I had tears every time in my eyes, not because I feel sorry, but the way you express the city and its golden memories I feel I am watching Havildar Mubark Shah and Ghulam Raziq the Athletes of their time running on the athletic ground. I recall the cricket players Imtiaz Ahmed, Col. Shujauddin, Col. Munaf, Javed Burki and the Olympian Brig Atif of Pakistan Hockey team and many heroes of their time in the three grounds of Rawalpindi. I can only say your article is not a print piece but the visualization of the golden memories of my life and your life. The fact is the time is cruel that never returns, but you have made it possible that I am in 50″s and 60″ and gone in the past. You have reversed the time watch. Thanks as this article will be part of my book collection as I give this article A Book in article form. Thank you.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Thank you Mr. Hasan for your kind words. Yes, I do remember some of the fine, outstanding athletes we had at the time, including Khaliq, the sprinter. Initially, a Brig Rodham used to head the Army Sports organization and I believe he was a very dedicated officer.
      All of us have fond memories of the Pindi of bygone days.

  41. Maj Gen (R) Khalid Jaffery says:

    An excellent article, sir. Having lived in Pindi most of my life I can relate to most of the things you have written about. It was a pleasant surprise to learn of your St. Mary’s connection and Maj Shabir Sharif’s as well, being a staunch St. Marian myself, of course from a much later period (1964-1970).
    I saw the “Malka ka butt” in the British High Commission in Islamabad in 2008. I presume it is still there.
    I hope you will keep on contributing to this forum.
    Rashid Cheema (Editor) is doing a wonderful job by posting such articles. My compliments to him.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      I thank you for your appreciation. St. Mary’s continues to enjoy a great reputation from our days when the campus was on Murree Road, to the present.
      Our people are second to none in the world, if they have access to good education.

  42. Syed Abid Salam says:

    One incident about Major Shabir Sharif (Shaheed) deserves to be recorded here. On my father’s transfer to Lahore Municipal Corporation (1961-64), I joined St. Anthony’s High School Lahore in 1961. I recall Shabir Sharif on visit to his old School (This was his 2nd after St. Mary’s, Rawalpindi) as a cadet, on his first term break from Pakistan Military Academy, he gave a brief motivational talk to a few of us during class interval to join the Army. How many were influenced I am not sure but I do remember Nelson Wilson, Haroon Shahid and Khalid Hyder joined the Army later. This is a slight digression as it relates to Lahore but I thought worthy of interest for the friends visiting this website.

  43. Brig (R) Mushtaq Ahmed Malik, Air Def says:

    Sir, Good research work done on Pindi.
    Col Cheema, It is now high time to move on to some other Historic Place. Regards.

    • Dear Brig Mushtaq,
      This article has been posted in Rawalpindi Blog (a part of my website, Native Pakistan).
      By the way, it has a Lahore Blog as well. You are welcome to share your memories in it. I can also create a Mianwali Blog (your home town). I just need original articles.

  44. Syed Abid Salam says:

    I greatly appreciate Shahid Bhai’s (my elder brother) contribution to Col Rashid Cheema’s website. Col Rashid is a Course mate of my brother-in-law Col Yousaf Jan (old FF officer). Maj Asad Cheema, Rashid’s elder brother, was my old college mate at Govt College Lahore and New Hostel fellow, a dear friend. I may add here that my father Col Salam was a class fellow of Field Marshal Ayub Khan at Aligarh University where he stayed briefly and was selected for induction to British Indian Army and joined the Sandhurst (UK) for training. He was invited to 43 Church Road as a patron to Sir Syed School function, old affiliation with Aligarh University.

  45. Lt Col (R) Zafar Mustafa (6 OTS Course) says:

    A fine piece of literature embellished with accurate historical data. An impressive article.

  46. Albert Dean, Mississauga, Canada says:

    This is nostalgia at its best. Yes I’ve been there, done that. That is, seen all those gorgeous streets of Rawalpindi in the 50’s and walked on them appreciating their pristine, beautiful surroundings.
    Thank you Mr. Shahid Salam for painstakingly giving such a detailed description of Rawalpindi Cantonment, which instigates that inward eye to visualize beautiful Pindi of bygone years. Its also a testament to the brilliance of the Brits who planned and built such tranquil, lovely areas.
    I consider those who lived through and experienced those times in Pindi to be indeed very fortunate.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Many thanks for your encouraging comment.
      I agree the British must have been a busy lot and we should acknowledge their contributions to Pindi; the Railway, the Cantonment, the schools, the hospitals and the commercial centres; and before I forget, the famous Murree Brewery, which helped quench the thirst of many throughout the sub-continent, Brits and non-Brits alike.

      A steam engine locomotive built in Manchester in 1911 was returned from Pindi to Manchester in 1981. The complete story:

      I also recall the military parades along the Mall, accompanied by bagpipe bands. In those days of course Pakistan had not developed their own musical compositions, so we were treated to the sounds of ‘Scotland the Great’ or ‘Amazing Grace’. I was surprised to learn a while back that half the world’s bagpipes are now coming from Sialkot. A NBC report on the bagpipes:

  47. Lt Col (R) Ajmal Mahmood (30 Long Course), Bahrain says:

    AOA. Thank you Mr. Shahid Salam, your old memories are wonderful. I enjoyed the article very much, as I have lived in Pindi since 1952.

    It’s very sad, as informed by Mr. R K Yusuf, that the old marble Plaque showing distances to various parts of then India, has been replaced by a new one.

    I remember when the white statue of Queen Victoria was removed from The Mall Road. It was said that the same will be put in the Lahore Museum. But after some time reporter of a newspaper published the photo of Queen’s Statue erected in the lawn of DC Rawalpindi House. I don’t know if the DC on his retirement took it to his ancestral house, or some senior officer snatched it from him or it was actually later on put in the Lahore Museum? If someone knows the latest location of that beautiful statue, please inform us.

    • Sir, Queen Victoria’s statue was shifted to British High Commission in 1957. I am not sure if it is still there or shifted to England. It is definitely not in the Lahore Museum.

      • Shahid Salam says:

        That’s exactly what I Googled and discovered. However, before Googling I thought I’d check out the Lahore Museum and I was quite impressed by the visual tour on their website
        I must add Queen Victoria looks far better in the statue than she was in real life, judging from her pictures. Wonder who the sculptor was?
        I think the stone slab showing distances may have been changed, because I vaguely remember the old one showed distances to Delhi, Cawnpore, etc.

    • Queen Victoria’s statue is placed now at the premises of the British High Commission in Islamabad.

  48. Col (R) Anwar Ahmed, Canada says:

    Thank you. I have been inspired to write of my days, pre Partition and post Partition. I will soon share it with you.I and my family have deep roots in locality “Committee Chowk”-Taeeli Mohalla, etc. And, of course, during my Army career from 1948 to 1972 in the “Cantonment”. I live now in Canada since 1976 (Mississauga -905 276 1739). Presently I am staying in Florida, USA till mid January. I would look forward to say “Hello” and contact with “Pindi-Waals”. Firdosi Road intrigues me. I have passed by name plate of “Salam’s” house. An old friend Abdul Jalil retired Director of Military Lands and Cantonments lives there as well where I called on him.

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Looking forward to your post; having witnessed a lot more than I guess the majority of writers, including myself. And it will be my pleasure to make contact next year. Every winter when the temperatures plummet far below meat locker level in Canada, I head to warmer climes and return in March. Thankfully the ice storm didn’t disrupt the power supply to our neighbourhood on the Toronto Lakeshore.

  49. Dr. Munawar Aziz (Abbottabad) says:

    Travelling from Peshawar to Lahore, our routine was to stop at Silver Grill on The Mall for a refreshing cup of tea and hot patties.

  50. Most absorbing and captivating narration of old times. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  51. Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai says:

    This exhaustive article by Mr. Shahid Salam has further refreshed my “post Partition” memories with regards to the Cantonment area and its surrounding; and I fully endorse and confirm all the facts narrated in this article.
    I am trying to recollect the Pre-Partition era which is fast fading/vanishing from the memories. Obviously in such an advanced age of nineties when Alzheimer is hovering, I am trying my best to collect my personal memories as much as possible; and putting them down extempore.

    Editor: Rafique Ahmed Khan Sahib’s nostalgic articles can be read here:-
    Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi

    • Shahid Salam says:

      Mr. Rafique, thank you for your thumbs up. I can assure you Alzheimer is not going to come anywhere near you. You have an amazing memory and we are all looking forward to your next trip down memory lane. People like yourself who straddled the divide and witnessed first hand the ‘pre’ and the ‘post’ Partition era can offer a lot more to us.

      • Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai says:

        Thank you for your appreciation. Being a non professional, my writing may not be that attractive and arresting as that written by the classical writers, but I am trying my best to translate my memories into the words which may provide original & first hand material sufficiently to the anxious readers what I had witnessed personally during the pre Partition era. Accordingly I am not taking help from any of the already available written data in the market or the Internet to keep my version strictly in the original form.

  52. Major (R) Munir Ahmed (2nd SSC) says:

    Dear Shahid Salam Sahib,
    Thank you so much for unveiling the historical background of Great Rawalpindi. The current law & order situation is quite contrary to what you have narrated. In early 1950s, there was nothing but peace all around. No panic, no unknown fear, no uncertainty, no blasts. All this now looks like a dream. Let us pray for the return of those good old peaceful days. Very nice of you to share such a beautifully worded article.

  53. Brig (R) Akram Malik says:

    It was wonderful reading your article. Having lived in Pindi from 1963 onward, I can relate to things you mentioned. Regards.

  54. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah says:

    Dear sir, thanks a lot for taking us back in time. It reminds us of good old Pindi, calm and peaceful.

  55. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Sir, Thanks for taking me down the memory lane and getting valuable knowledge of Pindi through your excellent write up. Regards.

  56. I wonder where the miles marker plaque at Flashman’s has ended up. I remember the one which had distances to far off places in India and further afield. Now, some bright spark has removed it and put a local version in its place. Sad.

    • Lt Col (R) Ajmal Mahmood (30 Long Course), Bahrain says:

      MR. R K Yusuf, are you sure that the old marble Plaque showing distances to various parts of then India, has been replaced by a new one? It’s really very sad.

      • This would have been done around 20 years ago, perhaps someone from the Cantonment Board can confirm this.

      • Zahiruddin Khan aka babar says:

        it is not sad, it is awful. Some ignorant Cantonment Board officer got a brain wave to change the milestone with a new one with the distances mentioned in kilometres. I traced the old stone to the cantonment board junk yard where it is now lying under a pilee of rubbish and unauthorized bill boards removed by the cantonment staff

    • Shahid Salam says:

      I agree, history doesn’t have to be erased.

  57. Iftekhar Aziz says:

    Sir, Thank you for the wonderful memories. May Allah, SWT, Bless you, Amen!

  58. Shaheda Rizvi, Canada says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such precious memories of a place and time that’s truly ‘eternal’ in my mind too. Immensely enjoyable!

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