Hostel Life of Gordon College Rawalpindi in Early 1950s

By Tariq Masud

Editor’s Note: Mr.Tariq Masud was born in Jammu, migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and lived in Rawalpindi for many years. He was in Gordon College during 1952-57. After obtaining a law degree from Lahore, he joined Civil Service in 1960. He held many important positions in AJ&K and Federal Governments, including Additional Chief Secretary Planning, Financial Commissioner and Joint Secretary Economic Affairs Division. After retirement in 1997, he was elevated to be the Mohtasib AJ&K for four years. He has also served as Chairman Pakistan Red Crescent Society, AJ&K Branch and a member of National Oversight Council for Disaster & Crises Management. He lives in Islamabad.

Tariq Masud

Tariq Masud

Tariq Masud in 1952

Tariq Masud in 1952

It was March or April 1952 when I joined the first year pre-medical class of FSc in Gordon College Rawalpindi. I had obtained a high First Division in Matriculation, hence admission to the pre-medical class posed no problem. My elder brother Khalid Mahmud was already there as a 3rd year BSc class student. My father was posted as District Medical Officer Poonch at Palandri and that year my mother who heretofore had lived in Pindi decided to shift to Palandri along with my three younger siblings. That made our father reluctantly agree to put both of us brothers in the Hostel. That was a momentous decision for the two of us. Though our parents were friendly and liberal, yet there were some unwritten rules restricting our movements and behavior which we traditionally observed.

Mr. Peter John, the hostel superintendent in his wisdom put two of us together in the odd-shaped Room No. 37 of the old Gordon Hall. In fact these were two adjacent rooms with separate doors but with only half a partitioning inside wall. It is, however a different story that we hardly visited our room except to sleeping there. Sometimes I did not even lock the room and that’s how I lost my Kodak Brownie 620 box camera which my mother had given me after Matriculation results. Almost 50 years later, a very dear and bearded friend (not so dear then) confessed to having taken it away.

Morton Hall, the three-storied imposing building in the middle of the complex, housed most of the residents in 4-bed dormitories and single rooms. Morton Hall was flanked by two-storied West Hall with only 18 rooms and Gordon Hall on the Eastern side with about 40-42 rooms.

Image of Morton Hall Hostel, Gordon College, Rawalpindi

Morton Hall Hostel

Messes and Kitchens were located between Gordon Hall and Morton Hall. There were three Messes, namely Jhelum Mess, Chenab Mess and Ravi Mess, if I remember correctly and not confusing it with Lahore Law College. What I do remember accurately is that the three messes were dedicated to students of (i) Intermediate (ii) Degree classes and (iii) Christian students. We could however change our dish of the day with the other mess. Usually the menu was Aloo gosht, Arvi gosht, muttar gosht, chaney ki daal gosht, palak gosht, gobhi gosht, bhindi or daal maash. Chicken curry was served once or perhaps twice a week, Pulao and sweet dish once in a week. Cost was worked out on the basis of Hazris; one meal was one hazri but chicken, Pulao and sweet were equal to 2 or 3 hazris. Average monthly cost was 8 to12 annas (paisa 50 to 75) per hazri which came to a total of about Rs. 50-60 per month.

Breakfast was provided by another shop located within the campus and its cost varied between Rs. 30-40 per month. There was a college Tuck Shop also serving samosas, gulab jamans and tea. It was near the Eastern gate of the college, and contracted out from year to year. During 1952-55, the contractor was one Mr. Niazi, a six footer middle-aged person with a barrel-shaped torso, and a poor eyesight. He wore a thick lens, round shaped eye glasses. He did not strongly discourage ‘Credit'; but then at times was found running after the defaulting students /ex students, trying to collect his dues.

One more vendor “Maltoun wala Baba” stationed himself outside the Western gate of the college. He sold Maltas and at other times, fruit chat. He had a unique style; first peeling off the whole malta, then slicing it horizontaly, before sprinkling salt and pepper over the lovely rounded portions. He was very popular on account of the quality of his merchandise and good manners. I remember receiving from Aba jan a monthly Money Order of not more than Rs. 125, sufficient to pay mess & breakfast bills, but tight indeed to meet expenditure incurred in Tuck Shop, and cost of watching at least four movies @ Rs. 1.6 annas per movie.

The fresh breeze of independence and freedom was a wonderful experience not tasted before, not supervised and not really answerable to anyone. I was the master of my own will, and could visit Hamayal (Zam Zam Restaurant) even after dinner, I could see a late film show at Plaza and could even taste a cigarette which my constant evening companion and friend Farhat (late Lt Col Farhat Hassan of 6 Lancers) was ever ready to lend. From the very beginning I had been taken by my elder brother Khalid & his friends under their wings. Khalid’s close friends and evening companions were Akhtar Sharif, a poet and an intellectual, Farhat Hassan, a chain-smoking, restless wanderer with a melodious voice and Sharif from Ghungrilla, Gujar Khan, who possessed  the best common sense and decision-making ability.

Plaza Cinema, The Mall, Rawalpindi

Plaza Cinema, The Mall, Rawalpindi (Photo taken much later).

(Photo courtesy Kenny Hassan Irwin)

Four/five of us would, at least, once a week hire a  ‘salam’  tonga to go to Sadder (cost annas 8-12). An hour or so spent in walking on the lovely Edwards Road (Now Bank Road) and a bit on Dalhousie Road (now Kashmir Road), a cup of tea in Café Cirose, Super’s or Kamran and back. We would go see late show of an English movie. We would return to the hostel walking via Gawalmandi and singing loudly all the way.

Related Articles:
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi 
Photos of Rawalpindi 
Rawalpindi Memorabilia
Nostalgic Memories of Rawalpindi

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  1. Saud Qureshi says:

    It is surprising to be at a forum for all the Gordonians, I joined Gordon College in 1973 after completing my matriculation from Sir Syed Public School, Rawalpindi and have spent a tremendous time of my studies till 1976, during the tenure of Professor Khawaja Masood, I do remember the days of the classes I use to attend. The most memorable thing of the college was Jubilee Hall which was almost used for the student union meetings. The professors were good, I do remember the names of my professors, Professor Nasarullah Malik, Professor Safeer Alam, Professor Maqsood Jaffari, Professor Samual Mull, Professor Imtiaz, if they all are alive by the grace of Allah my best wishes to them and all the Gordinians. Waiting for the next period and to kill the time was the right place we had was of course Zam Zam Cafe and Lahori Samoosas at DAV college Road, Rwp. I was born in Pindi and lived in Pindi and studied in Pindi, I really appreciate Mr. Tariq Masud for taking an initiative as senior college mate, may Allah bless you with his blessings.

  2. Maqsood Choudary, Ph.D. says:

    I joined Gordon College as lecturer in Political Science in 1973 and was hostel superintendent (Morton Hall) 1978-82.The room above which Morton Hall is written was my room. I live and teach in the U.S. now. Visited Gordon College back in 1996.
    If I am correct one of my professor at Punjab University Prof Khalid Mahmood may have been a contemporary of Mr. Tariq Masud. I had the honor of being his host every time he visited Rawalpindi. He will go around and talk to students and tell them of his good days in Morton Hall. At one time he asked me if he can sleep for a night in his room on the second floor. The occupant student very graciously obliged and moved out for a night. What a gentleman and scholar he was. May he rest in peace.
    Thank you Mr. Masud and I conclude with a line from Majid Adim:
    Yaad Mazi Azzab hai Ya Raab, Cheen lay mujh se Hafiza Mera.

  3. Shahid Muhammad, UK says:

    It was very nice to read this nostalgic article. I love Gordon College and Rawalpindi, especially Arya Mohalla.

  4. Anees Mahdi, N.Y., USA says:

    Dear Tariq Bhai,

    I really enjoyed reading this article. The narrative is so absorbing and engaging and all the details you so vividly and interestingly wrote just swirled my imagination! Hai Allah, what delicious food they served, in fact all dishes are Abba’s favourites too! (and wow just see the cost!!). Mr. Niazi and “Maltoun wala Baba” and his most tempting oranges, your versatile friends, his experiences and escapades, movies and jaunts, all make the best seller list!. Really they do.

    I have always maintained that you MUST write a detailed biography as well as a novel. Loved the pics. How handsome you were Masha Allah and still are. Plaza Cinema was so cool! Honestly it was a treat reading your memories. Went into a dream world….and could clearly visualize you and your buddies”singing loudly all the way”….felt like doing that myself!

    PS: Hope your bearded friend has amply apologized!!!

  5. M Afzal Cheema says:

    I was really thrilled to read your nostalgic account. I was student of Gordon College in 1992. Please write about teachers of your era.

    • Tariq Masud says:

      Dear Afzal Cheema, Will write in due course, in not too distant a future. But a word of caution lest you feel disappointed; that 1952-55 was so different from 1992.

      • M Afzal Cheema says:

        Thanks for responding so soon. I will enjoy reading about teachers of 1952 despite gape of 30 years because my teachers used to talk about their teachers, like Sir Stewart, Sir Victor Mall, Sir Xavier, Mrs Stewart and Prof Khawaja Masud. My teachers were Sajjad Sheikh and Aftab Iqbal Shamim

      • Afzal Cheema says:

        It is informed to all Gordonians that our dear Prof Sajjad Shaikh is no more. He died on 18 March at Rawalplndi. May Almighty bless him. I was his student in 1992. He was the best teacher of his era. He was at home in all the branches of lit. No one was like him. I will ever miss his marathon lectures.

        • Anjum Dar says:

          Janab Prof. Sajjad Sheikh was my teacher for 1966-72 alongwith Janab Prof. V.K Mall and Janab Prof. Nathenial. ” Khaak main kaiya soorutain theen kay pinhaan ho gaiyeen “.

  6. Lt Col (R) Kamran Gul Abdullah, Engrs (2nd SSC) says:

    Dear Mr. Tariq Masud, Very nice article indeed. I regret that my uncle (Chacha), Mumtaz Abdullah, is not alive today to read your article. He was in Gordon College around the time you were there, and lived nearby Gordon College in Arya Mohalla. But he must have been close to you otherwise during his service.

    • Tariq Masud says:

      Dear Col Kamran Gul Abdullah,
      Mumtaz and myself were not only class fellows, in Gordon College and Lahore Law College but were close friends also. ‘Cherry’, as the family and close friends called him, was a hard working and focused student. We called him “Hobbs” also (a leading political scientist ). Surraiya, his sister, was also with us in Gordon college. Visited his house in Arya Mohalla several times. We held equivalent positions in the Government. He was Joint Secretary Finance and I was J.S. Economic Cooperation in the E.A.D. We traveled together on official foreign trips, the most interesting of these was a trip to Beijing in 1986. I was one of the last persons to see him alive in Shifa Hospital, I know his beautifully kept grave in H-12 and believe me, I am one of the most frequent visitors to his grave, which falls on way to my elder brother’s grave. God bless him.

      • Lt Col (R) Kamran Gul Abdullah says:

        Dear Mr. Tariq Masud,
        Sir I am deeply moved by your comments. I had come from Karachi to see him when he was admitted at Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad. Some how I knew that his time to meet his Lord was near. I remained in Islamabad with him for two weeks and left after his Soyem.
        Sorry that I cannot recall our meeting at that time, but was quite disturbed to see his friends that I had earlier known particularly uncle TZ Farooqi. After my father’s death in 1986, he had always been like a father to me. I certainly look forward to reading more of your articles. Best Regards.

  7. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah (2nd SSC) says:

    Good article, sir.
    Cheema Jee, you have done a great service to all of us by initiating this website which provides us with an opportunity to try our hand to write and share our views. It is FUN, many thanks, stay blessed.

  8. Mehmud Ahmed ,Canada says:

    Dear Tariq,
    Except that you did not name ‘The Beard’ the article is what the wife of a British journalist in New Delhi use to say, “Delicious, darling, very delicious”. It reminded me of what Abdul Hameed Adam said:
    Jaa! maykaday say meri jawani utha kay la.

    Tariq was my contemporary but not the same section or subjects. He has not mentioned the “One-eyed Pastry wala Baba’ who use to park himself inside the Western gate with a large trunk full of bakery products in front on a stand. Notorious robber barons use to pinch a pastry or two from his box while their accomplices kept the mobile hawker engaged on the good-eye side. The chief among them was our class mate, a younger brother of a Maj Gen. He later joined the Army himself, became a POW in 1971 and later retired as Brigadier and now lives either in Kurram or some place that I do not know of.

    Let us wait for the memoirs of Tariq which promise a lot of interesting stories of the last century and his work and unknown works here and abroad for his homeland. He is a good story teller.

    • Tariq Masud says:

      Khan Jee! Choriay, raat gayi baat gayi.

      One younger brother of a then serving Maj Gen( there were very few Major Generals then) was Fazal-e Akbar. He played cricket. If you are talking about the same person, he was my class fellow in Denny’s High School, Rawalpindi as well and was our contemporary in the F.A class of 1952. I do not not know about his Army career or being a POW but I do know that he joined some civil service an inter alia served as a Deputy Secretary in the ministry of Hajj. He died many years ago. I have a hillarious anecdote of him during school life but would share it only if he is the man you have in mind.

  9. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Thanks sir for such a nice article.It made me remember my hostel days of Jinnah Courts Karachi (1967-69). We all have similar memories with minor amendments. Regards.

  10. Mehmud Ahmed (Brampton-Canada) says:

    Tariq, name the ‘Beard’!! It’s not Contempt of Court now. Will write my detailed comments tomorrow.

    • Mehmud Sahib, parda he rehnay dain. Why to embarrass the old man now. He should now present a digital camera to Tariq Masud Sahib, of course in privacy, or take him to a dinner in Marriott/Islamabad Club.

  11. Maj (R) Siraj Syed (17 PMA), USA says:

    Mr. Tariq Masud, your article has refreshed my memories of Lt Col Farhat Hassan of 6 Lancers who was a good friend of mine and sorry to know he passed away. He was from Khalid Company 15 PMA Long Course. While I was in Nowshera, 6 Lancers was there and I visited their Mess regularly as one of my friends Col Pir Farooq Ali Qureshi of Multan was also in 6 Lancers. I remember that when Gen Zia-ul-Haq was the President of Pakistan, Col Farooq invited Gen Zia on his daughter’s marriage and Gen Zia went all the way to Multan from Rawalpindi to attend the marriage.

    Once I met Col Farhat at the CMH Staff Surgeon. He invited me to his car to sit and gossip. I could hardly sit there for long as it stunk with cigarette smoke. Great!!! this Blog by Col Rashid Zia Cheema is refreshing our old connections and memories.

    Mr Tariq Masud, do you know Col Tassaduq Hussain of AK. His son Capt Riaz was married to my sister. Probably if you attended their marriage, I may have met you.

    • Tariq Masud says:

      Dear Major Siraj Syed,
      If you are talking of Col Tassadaq, brother of Major Mehtab from Rawalakot, I met him once or twice long long time back. I believe he owned property near Ayub National Park and lived permanently in Pindi. No I did not attend the marriage you have enquired about.

  12. Azam Gill, France says:

    Thank you, Tariq Masud Sahib, for sharing your memories with such coherently descriptive penmanship.

  13. Thanks for sharing the independent hostel life of my Alma Mater which I could not enjoy being non-boader. However,Lt Col(Then Maj) Farhat was our Adjt of 1st Pak Bn in PMA, Kakul in 1971. Could you tell me as to when & how he died? Allah(SWT) un ki maghfirat karain. Ameen!

    I cannot forget his punishment during a winter exercise (KHANDAK) when a group of cadets made tunnels in the close by village haystacks and enjoyed deep but very cosy sleep. Everyone was rushing out of their respective holes duly camouflaged with BHOOSA with complete destruction of the small mountains of haystacks. Probably the local farmers complained to Maj Farhat Ullah/Hasan of AC. The GCs were ordered in chilled winter at Reveille for front rolls barefooted on the terraces of mountainous terrain.
    بس رات کا سارا نشہ کافور ہو گیا اور آعںدہ کے لۓ سب نے تو بہ کر لی۔

    • Tariq Masud says:

      Maj Arshad,
      Lt Col Farhat Hassan, 6 Lancers died of cancer in early 2012. His medical history sheet did not specify whether it was a stomach or lung cancer. I visited him along with our mutual friend Akhtar Sharif in Officers Ward, CMH Rawalpindi. It was very difficult to recognize him as he was just a skeleton. But he talked to me enthusiastically, condoling the death of his friend and my elder brother Prof Khalid Mahmud. His ancestral house is located in village Basanter/Chapper Arazi about 10-12 miles from Rewat. His only son has a modest job with an I.T. company in Islamabad.

  14. Mr. Tariq Masud, your excellent nostalgic article has taken me down memory lane. Back in 1967-68, I was in Iqbal Hostel (Quadrangle Hostel) of Govt College Lahore and enjoyed the similar carefree life. Those were the Golden Days of my life.

    Some time, InshaAllah I will sit back and jot down my memories but those will be posted in Lahore Blog segment of this website.

    • Ali Haider says:

      I lived at Quadrangle (GC’s hostel) from 1964-66. What an experience it was. I still cherish those days.

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