By Lt Col Muhammad Zulfiqar Ali (2nd SSC)
Rashid Zia Cheema’s sentence “Yaad-e-maazi aazaab hai ya Rab!”, in his article Nostalgic Memories of Rawalpindi, has compelled me to write this piece. I have also spent some quality time in Rawalpindi from 1975 to 1977. I was living in Sher Dil Mess, Westridge and was not married at that time. I was Adjutant of the unit.
I used to go to Saddar Bazaar daily in the evening and all those places, mentioned by Rashid Zia Cheema, were really very busy points. Now, whenever I go to Pindi, I genuinely feel pleasure in roaming around the same places and spend time in gathering old memories. I used to walk from Sher Dill Mess to Saddar but you cannot think of walking now because of traffic rush and pollution.
I purchased my first car in Pindi worth Rs.12,000. I had only Rs. 3,000 that my father gave me. The remaining amount of Rs.9,000 was borrowed from my elder brother, telling him ” Brother, I want to buy a car but some money is short.” And he sent me the amount. It was a white coloured 1962 vintage Volkswagen. The day I was buying the car, one of my friends reminded me about Mirza ki cycle. I just ignored his remark thinking him a jealous man. After buying the car, I drove right away to a car wash centre located in a petrol pump at Westridge, Peshawar Road. I walked to the manager’s cabin with an attitude of CAR owner and asked him, “Please get my car washed and cleaned from inside too”. Thinking that a big customer has arrived, he got up from the chair and walked outside to see the car. He smiled when he saw an old Volkswagen.
Although I was not a smoker, I tried my first smoke while I was driving my car on The Mall Road to maximize my driving pleasure. My one hand was on the steering and in the other hand I tried to hold the cigarette but could not smoke because the car’s gear was slipping and I had to hold the gear in position with the same hand holding the cigarette. Later, I used to take my batman Kalay Khan along to hold the gear. Any way, I sold the car after one month as my brother was using it more than I.
It reminds me also when I and a senior officer were going to Murree in a bus during the summer season. It was a rush day and the crowded bus was full to its capacity. We preferred to travel in the same bus while standing because we knew that waiting for another bus will waste an hour. The senior officer boarded the bus first and hurriedly occupied a better place. We both were standing holding the bar and falling on other people at every sharp turn. The senior officer, after every turn, asked me, “Zulfi! I hope you are comfortable?” On reaching Murree we enjoyed a happy time on The Mall Road and he, very generously, offered me a ‘Challi’ (Corn cob) also called ‘Sitta’.
I can’t forget good old memories of Rawalpindi to this day.
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