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.
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.
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.
(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.
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