My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 10)

By Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Editor’s Note: The writer was born and brought up in Rawalpindi. He studied in Denny’s High School, Mission High School and Gordon College. He now lives in Dubai. He is writing a series of articles about the life in Rawalpindi during 1930s, 40s and 50s.

 Continued from Part 9 ………..

 British India 4 Annas coin 1920

British India 4 Annas coin 1920.

Travelling in the Rawalpindi city area was mostly on foot to visit relations, friends and buying from the shops nearby. But for going to the farther areas, the Tongas were used. For Muslim ladies a bed sheet was fixed on the back side of the Tongas as “Pardah” to cover the seating so that they were no more visible to the public while travelling. While going on social visits, from the city area to Saddar and its adjacent areas was quite a big deal. It was so arranged that such place should be reached during mid morning to enable the guests to be there for quite long in the day; and reach back home before dusk in time after being served with lunch and afternoon tea. The Tonga Kootchwan (driver) would charge four annas per trip for such “long journey”.

A tonga at Imperial Hotel Rawalpindi, 1907 - Rare Photo of Rawalpindi

A tonga at Imperial Hotel Rawalpindi, 1907.

General public including employees and shopkeepers, etc. used bicycles and sharing tongas to reach offices and shops in far areas. During office opening/closing hours there used to be a sizable rush on the roads. Main employers were COD, MTSD (Mechanical Transport Supply Depot), 501/502 EME Workshops, Controller Military Accounts (Kalkata Dafter), & GHQ (NORTHERN COMMAND), etc which employed hundreds in their staff. A sizable number of employees of these establishments used to come from outside of Pindi area also. They used to come on bicycles covering 10/15 miles distance.

Raleigh bicycle's old advertisementRustam and Sohrab bicycles' old advertisementI have seen senior British Military officers going to their offices on bicycles. All the Military Units would have a Cycle Shop along with other services like Tailor Shop, Barber Shop and Laundry Shop, etc. Accordingly the Bicycle sale & service/repair shops were found on very short distances throughout the city and Sadder areas. Very famous brands of bicycles were Phillips, Hercules and Raleigh. Ladies Bicycles were specially designed to facilitate their riding. The horizontal tubular bar was replaced by a bent bar (like “L”) which made it easy for the ladies to ride without raising their leg like men. After the Partition the import of these bicycles was banned to help the production of local bicycles namely Rustam and Sohrab  brands manufactured by M/s Beco Ltd run by a retired Naval officer. In spite of the very very poor quality of the local bicycles, the import of bicycles remained banned.

Old Bicycles: Phillips bicycle 1944, Hercules bicycle 1930s, Raleigh ladies bicycle 1929

In late 1920s cars started being used by the high gentry. There was a very small number of cars up to 1930s; but during 1940s, the number of cars started increasing. In the meanwhile passenger carrying transport had also come in the market. They were called lorries. In late 1930s a proper passenger inter city service had already started, in addition to railway which was already well established.

The cars used during pre 1930s period were both hard roof tops called “landau” body and others with convertible roofs made with hard canvas; with adjustable windows made with  translucent cellulite with “Zeus fasteners” for easy attachment/removal, for protection from rain, etc. Only two brands of automobiles were generally used i.e., Ford and Chevrolet. A small number of Mini Austin (called Baby Austin) were also found on the roads. Initially the automobiles were “Crank” started instead of self start. The owners used to ensure that Crank, toe- chain and the Jack must be available in the cars before journey.

Old Cars - Ford 1939, Chevrolet 1936, Austin 1936

Train at Rawalpindi 1949

Magistrate AP Gill at Rawalpindi boarding in 2nd class compartment, 1949.

Railway was only comfortable transport service, with 1st Class, 2nd Class, Inter Class and 3rd Class compartments. The common people could not even think of travelling in 1st or 2nd Class compartments. Only the Indian/British Army officers used the 1st class, where as all the other rank British would travel in the 2nd Class. Very few Indian high gentry used 2nd Class compartments. Inter Class compartments were used by the middle high gentry Indians; where as rest of the public used 3rd Class compartments. To travel comfortably in packed compartments people used different tricks. I remember one man placed a placard in his front with bold letters “A PATIENT OF T.B.”. His fellow passengers were so scared that they did not occupy any seat on his berth or in his opposite berth. Some even left the compartment. Thus he enjoyed to occupy the whole berth.

Rawalpindi Railway Station old photo: A train at the platform

But of course there was no sense of any inferiority complex in the public while travelling in lower class compartments, who would voluntarily buy the tickets as per their social status/entitlement & according to their financial condition. I remember there was no such feeling for any status/class symbol among the general/common public who composed 95 % of the population. To be a respectful person needed a respectable attitude towards others. I knew a number of such respectable citizens who were financially not so well off; but enjoyed a lot of respect from the public due to their maintaining respectable popular public relations.

A steam engine and train of North Western Railways

A steam engine and train of North Western Railways.

A majority of the Railway employees was the Anglo Indians, who used to live in the Railway Estate in the Westridge area. All the Field employees used to wear white uniforms with blue black peak caps. Traffic checking was very regular and strict; and the defaulters were handled by the railway police at the spot.

Bus which ran between Rawalpindi and Sirinagar via Kohala, 1930

This bus ran between Rawalpindi and Sirinagar via Kohala, 1930.

The Omni Bus service was started during early 1940s. M/S Nanda Bus Service, and Pindi Bus Service were allowed to run modern buses in the city on local routes; initially between Saddar and City areas. Later the routes were increased to cover almost all the populated areas with the addition of more buses. Pindi Bus Service was already running between Pindi and Murree Hills along with Murree Hill Transport owned by Raja Ghulam Sarwar and his brother Raja Muhammad Sarwar. They belonged to Ghora Galli  near Murree Hills and were political figures also. Later Pindi Murree Trasport Ltd also started bus service to Murree.

Bus of Pindi Murree Transport Ltd in October 1947

A Bus of Pindi Murree Transport Ltd in October 1947.

One very interesting aspect of all such transport was that no vehicle was allowed strictly any overloading right from bicycles to buses. Only one person was allowed to ride the bicycle, only three passengers were allowed in Tongas. Al the vehicles could not run without warning bells/horns and lights at night. In the beginning the bicycles were fitted with lamps using “carbide” which gave sufficient light while burning in the lamps fitted with reflectors. Later on this type was banned being hazardous to health; and only kerosene oil lamps were allowed. During late 1930s and early 1940s the bicycles were also fitted with magneto/dynamo lamps which used to generate own electricity through friction and gave a strong beam of light. These electric lamps soon became very popular, and everyone started using the same; discarding the old kerosene oil lamps.

Old Bicycle parts: Carbide light, Dynamo, Lamp

Traffic accidents were very rare due to strict and practical vigilance by the Police under British Administration, under their main formula “Crime must follow punishment”; unlike under the present circumstances where only the poor/helpless are booked, while others get Scott free after paying bribes or recommended by the influential persons. TO BE CONTINUED …………

Crime must follow Punishment.

Related Pages:
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 1)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 2) 
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 3) 
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 4)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 5) 
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 6)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 7)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 8)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 9)

My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 10)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 11)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 12)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 13)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 14)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 15)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 16)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 17)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 18)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 19)
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi  
Rawalpindi Blog 

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  1. Niaz Ahmad Khan says:

    Dear Rashid Cheema (Editor) and Rafique Sahib,
    Both of you are doing a wonderful job– refreshing and rejuvenating the fading memories of a sweet past.
    By the way Cheema Sahib what will be the present day equivalent of Rs.90/- for which Rafique Sahib purchased his Hercules bicycle way back in 1948?
    Thanks and sincere regards.

    • Dear Niaz Ahmad Khan Sahib,
      It is informed with deepest grief that Rafique Ahmed Khan Sahib expired on 11 July 2016 in Rawalpindi (Inna Lillah Wa Inna Allayh-e-Rajayoun). May his soul rest in eternal peace, Aameen.

  2. Tina Omari, USA says:

    Rafique Khan Sahib,
    I stumbled upon your excellent blog two days ago and have spent all my spare time reading your articles and reliving my past.
    I was born in Pindi and studied in Gordon College from 1968-1969. I agree with all of you that it was a great academic institution, but have to point out that because of the low percentage of girls studying there, it was a very trying period for most of us. By the late 1960s, the caliber of students had changed and the atmosphere had become very conservative. Girls walked with their heads down, stood outside the classroom until the teacher entered the class and after class walked back to that bedraggled looking piece of land called the ‘Ladies Garden’. More on this later.
    As this blog talks about cycles, I would like to mention the fact that my mother, Grace Phillips, cycled to the Radio Station daily to read the English news in the early 1960s. In her sari, she was a common sight on the Mall and Peshawer Road, on her Hercules cycle. Those days were the ‘good old days’ we all lament for and no one ever obstructed her path or passed any comments. On the contrary, they would look out for her at busy intersections.
    Keep up your good work. After the mess that the authorities have made of this wonderful Cantonment, it is better to remember it from days gone by.
    Thank you once again and may God bless you.

    • Dear Madam,
      I have to thank you for your such a gracious appreciation. Please believe in me that I still remember the Name Grace Phillips the famous news reader on Radio Pakistan with her enchanting voice and perfect English accent. She had a colleague Edward Caripier also reading the news.
      During pre Partition there used to be only 3-4 girl students (mostly non Muslims) in the classes in the Gordon College. They used to come last in the class and sit at the back bench tightly squeezed in very simple dress without any make-up.
      Now the Cantonment area is over congested and modern buildings have been constructed; and the standard of hygiene is still being maintained by the Military Authorities and is appreciably satisfactory.
      Gone are old days leaving sweat memories in the hearts for ever.
      Thanking you again, Madam.

  3. Dear Editor,
    I would like to know from which year to which year Rafique Khan Sahib studied in Denny’s School and Gordon College. My uncle Hussain Ahmad is interested to know. He is 80, and encyclopedia of Rawalpindi, particularly Saddar area. The family is living in Rawalpindi Saddar for more than 100 years. His grandfather, known as Haji Sarhadi in Rawalpindi taught Pushto to Major Messervy father of C-in-C Pakistan Army Gen Sir Frank Messervy (August 15, 1947 – February 10, 1948).
    Whatever he narrates to me I will forward to you. These days he is not well.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Zahid Mumtaz,
      I studied in the Denny’s High School from 1931 to 1935 and joined Mission High School Rawalpindi in 1935 to 1941 to join the Gordon College in 1941.
      Kindly ask your Uncle Mr. Hussan Ahmed whether he knows Seth Ibrahim who lived in Saddar, If health permits him I will be too happy to exchange views on Phone 0097143429580 (Dubai) or you can advise your contact for the purpose.
      With blessings.

      • Lt Col (R) Zahid Mumtaz says:

        Rafique Sahib,
        My uncle says that there were 3 Seth Ibrahims in Saddar, Rawalpindi. You are asking about whom? Please give some more reference.
        He is also interested to know when and where you born? What were the names and professions of your father and grandfather?

        • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

          Dear Lt Col Zahid Mumtaz,
          Seth Ibrahim of which I have mentioned was not from BOHRA community, but was originally from Peshawar, and lived in central residential area of Saddar. He once opened a shop in front of the Jamia Masjid Rawalpindi to sell Swords which were allowed to be kept by every one without license. Your uncle may be knowing my father-in-law Agha Ghulam Jilani, who owned the Imperial and the Odeon Cinemas in Rawalpindi.

          • Lt Col (R) Zahid Mumtaz says:

            There seems to be some mistake regarding the name of Seth Ibrahim from Peshawar. His name was Seth Abdul Rahim. He had two sons, Qamar and Khurshid. Qamar served in PIA as catering manager and died in USA, he owned a restaurant in USA. He used to treat my uncle as his son. Khurshid never got married; he died two to three years back. They lived in Boosa Mandi in a beautiful old house at the corner.
            My uncle knows Agha Ghulam Jilani very well. His son Agha Abdul Rashid Jilani was once Mayor of Rawalpindi.His younger brother, Ghulam Jilani worked in Imperial Cinema.

            • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

              Dear Lt Col Zahid Mumtaz,
              You have hit the bulls eye. I was so happy and delighted to listen about the disclosure of my father-in-law, etc.
              I used to go the Seth Abur Rahim’s beautiful house along with my father during 1940s who was his fast friend. Qamar was my colleague in PIA during 1960s. He was in the Catering and I was in the Stores & Purchases. When we met in Karachi for the first time in the Executive Dinning Hall for lunch, I immediately recognized him. Thereafter we continued meeting almost daily. He was elder to me in age. It may not be out of point herein that there was a dispute in the age of Qamar in the documents; which I got corrected by going to Denny’s High School, Rawalpindi. I was successful in getting a school certificate from the Head Master Misri Khan. In this way Qamar got some years extension to his service; and he was much happy and obliged. He married some singer lady and left for USA after retirement. I do not know about his death which is very sad news to me.
              As regards my father-in-law Agha Ghulam Jilani, he had only one brother Agha Ghulam Rabbani who assisted him in running the Imperial Cinema and was married to the daughter of Sheikh Hisam-ud-Din proprietor of the famous George Press in Sadder. Agha Rasheed Jilani, a former Mayor of Rawalpindi, was my brother-in-law and his younger brother Agha Shaukat Parvez used to look after the Odeon Cinema.
              Your respected uncle must also be knowing about Khan Bahadur Abdullah Khan of the Persian Carpets and Master Ismail of the Ismail Tailors, our neighbors in the city area but ran shops in the Cantonment.
              But why did you not disclose the name of your respected uncle? I may be knowing him. Thanking you.
              With blessings.

              • Rafique Khan Sahib,
                Please see above the comment of Lt Col Zahid Mumtaz dated 26 Apr, he has already mentioned the name of his uncle, Hussain Ahmed. You have missed it. 🙂

  4. Lovely articles. I have read all of them twice. Will share few things with you later.

  5. Maj Gen (R) Parvez Akmal says:

    Dear Khan Sahib,
    As-slamu Alaikum,

    Of curtained tongas, Phillips n’ Hercules, lamps n’ dynamos and the rest; it’s beautifully nostalgic for me too. Ten out of ten for your wonderful tenth narration of good old Pindi; congrats. The editor too is doing wonders as usual.

    Very like others, I enjoyed cycling in early childhood but my father gifted me his Phillips in 1964 when I matriculated. Until 1968, I w’d cycle daily all the way from Westridge-3 to the Govt Degree College and then Gordon College. Often, on way back home, I’d carry a sizable bag full of grocery and vegetables, etc from Raja Bazaar mandies. An average sportsman and never into field athletics, I only learnt at PMA that some 30 km of cycling daily had built my stamina enormously, for I w’d be way ahead in mile test and marathons. Whilst in the developed world everyone cycles with pride and grace, we generally tend to consider it below our dignity and status of sorts. Alhamd o Lillah, I still enjoy cycling with my youngest son; does that make me look any smaller, …. nay, healthier.

    My prayers and warm regards.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Maj Gen Parvez Akmal,
      I have to express my sincere gratitude to you for your very kind appreciation and encouragement. During pre Partition, I had not seen any senior British Officer higher than a Brigadier. But I remember very well seeing British Brigadiers cycling to the Offices. One recent ex Polish President (LECH WALESA) resumed his duty as an electrician in his workshop after finishing his tenure as the head of his country. No sensible person develops complex under any circumstances. I have been living in Dubai for more than 25 years and see my Europeans neighbors doing all types of house hold jobs themselves. Dignity of labour is always appreciated/found in the sensible gentlemen with high mentality.
      With Blessings

  6. Albert Dean, Canada says:

    I appreciate to the maximum this remarkable article written by Mr. Rafique Khan. The intricate details of the structure and types of bicycles and cars of pre-Partition times, highlights the excellent memory possessed by the writer. In the 1950’s and early 1960’s I frequently cycled from Gordon College to the Army Stadium, to watch the Army athletes, who were the best in Asia at that time, practice their particular events. It was a joy and thrill to cycle on Murree Road and the Mall Road.
    Thank you Mr. Rafique Sahib for revitalizing my precious memories of Rawalpindi.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Mr Albert Dean,
      Thank you for your nice and encouraging appreciation. I was studying in Gordon College during early 1940s. Incidentally the cycles are visibly coming back to roads. Thanks to costly fuel and unbearable traffic congestion.
      With regards,

  7. Javaid Zahoor says:

    Thanks sir, you took us back in time. Alas, a time (past) embodying values which do seem as dream and having no chance to come back.

  8. Brig (R) Khalil-ur-Rehman says:

    I used to cycle to my college, ie Islamiya College Peshawar on Hercules cycle which must be ten to 15 years old which my father used for going to office.
    I saw Rawalpindi for the first time in 1964 during college days. We had gone to Murree in a bus. We lived in a hotel close to Pindi railway station. We had toast with maliee in breakfast.

    I again came to Pindi in May 1968 as 2/Lt. Joined CMT&SD Golra. Most of employees used to cycle to their work place. I have a lasting love for Pindi as I had spent 25 years of my service in Pindi. To my bad luck I shifted to Lahore in 2009 but my heart still lives in Pindi. All my dreams originate in Pindi at night. This is the love I have with Pindi. I appreciate your write up on Pindi. It freshened my memories of the past. Thanks a lot.

    • Dear Brig Khalil Ur Rehman,
      I could guess that you were in Ordnance Corpse. How cool and sweet is to remember the past. The taste of “malai” on the roasted toast must be felt afresh whenever remembered. During those days the standard breakfast of the common Pindi-ites was “NAAN” with “malai” or left overs from the last dinner. Hot “Naans” fresh from “Tandoors” were so crispy and tasty. The bakers used to spray/sprinkle the “naans” with milk to look glossy.
      I hope you did not feel dizzy like many other people while going to Murree on those buses.
      Thanking you sir, for your kind appreciation.

      • Brig (R) Khalil ur Rehman says:

        Thanks a lot for a prompt reply. Yes, I had severe vomiting traveling to Murree. So right you are in assessing this.

        From Golra I was sent to East Pakistan in emergency, remained there till surrender, Dec 16, 1971. Was taken to Brailley in Indian trains. They had well developed rail system. In fact we destroyed our rail network due to misplaced priorities.

        Coming back to Pindi, I was lucky to to command CMT&SD Golra from 1992-94. Commanding a unit which one joined as 2/Lt is a dream of every Army officer. As 2/Lt we would travel to Pindi Saddar by bus. The fare was 6 annas. On return the bus would drop us at Poly Technical College (Now College of E&ME) on Peshawar Road. We had to walk a mile to reach our Mess in pitch dark night.

        Pindi had many attractions for us like Karim Samosa, dehi bhallas of Baboo Bazaar, Super’s ice cream, etc. A grilled chicken was sold for Rs. 7.50 at Broadway Bakers, we ate it half per head with a bun. It used to be really tasty and well cooked. I spent most of the time in Pindi as 2/Lt, Capt, Maj, Lt Col, Col and Brig. It was a long journey of hard work, dedication to service and progress.

        Praying for your health and happiness. Regards

  9. Maj (R) Jamil (55 PMA), Canada says:

    Dear Sir, I have not yet been able to read all of your articles but this one mesmerized me, I remember the Rawalpindi of 1960’s but it was a great pleasure to go back in time on a joy ride on the magic bicycles. My father used to own a bicycle, “Prima” made in Japan in early 1960’s. (He probably had it prior to that). Guess what? I still have it (though not in working condition). I think the whole of my family (mother, sisters, next generations, grand kids also enjoyed the ride). I remember going to Chandni Chowk, Ayub Park on the bicycle with my Dad as a kid.

    A large number of military officers/JCOs/ Other Ranks still use bicycles in Cantonment areas. I regularly used bicycle while I was posted in Kharian/Jhelum and a few more stations.

    Rawalpindi has always been a city of Love and beauty. Pindi still attracts everyone, you so rightly and sweetly explained its mystery of olden but golden times.

    Please do tell us how Goras had created so many jobs during their Kingship in Indo-Pak. How did they treat us and our forefathers?

    I still Love the whistle of Black Steam Engine and journey by train has always been pleasure.

    Military units still have the tradition of Bicycle shop, along laundry, canteen, Barber shop, etc. But we see very few people riding bicycles as compared to rest of the world.

    Sir, please continue writing as few people have that great memory and wonderful way of expressing the glorious past.

    • Dear Maj Jamil,
      Thank you sir, for your kind appreciation and encouragement. During olden days the rush of the bike riders was worth seeing on the roads leading towards the Military Offices such as COD, MTSD, 501/502 EME Workshops. Bicycles were most convenient, safe and easy to ride way of transport. Almost everyone used to have a bicycle.
      In my next episode I may cover the points as high lighted by you with regards to the treatment meted out to Indians by the Goras, and travelling by trains run by steam engines powered by coal.

      • Maj (R) Jamil (55 PMA), Canada says:

        Sir thank you very much for detaled reply. The way you tell the story is amazing, You could have been one of the best Movie Directors of time. I would be anxiously waiting for your next episodes. Please continue the great work.

        • Dear Maj Jamil,
          Many thanks again sir, for your gracious appreciation and encouragement to me for writing my memoirs. Haven’t you gone through my Episodes no from 11th to 14th. Kindly do go through them to know more about Pindi.
          With Blessings and best regards.

  10. Shahid Salam, Canada says:

    Rafique Sb.,

    Thank you, as usual it is a fountain of memories. Cycling in those days had the benefit of exercise in addition to being a mode of transport. For some reason, in later years, biking became associated with class; those riding bikes were seen as poor or ‘down and out’ In the West of course there is no such label attached to biking.

    Here in Toronto, I have two bikes, a mountain bike and a road bike for long distances; the longest I have biked in one go is 90 km and hope to hit a 100 km this summer. The mountain bike is what I use for shopping, with my backpack on my shoulder. Bikes here are required by law to have front and rear lights, and a computer is optional; it shows the speed, distance, etc. A helmet too is optional.

    I have a picture of the Dutch Prime Minister arriving at his office on his bike, but I am not sure how to attach or upload it.

    • Dear Shahid Salam Sahib,
      History is repeating itself, when we see the start of comeback of the cycles. In the present crisis of prices of fuel going very high accompanied by the shortage of fuel, health reasons and convenience to ride; the usage of bicycles is being felt afresh. The bicycle Stands at various points in the European cities for hire have been shown on the TV. It will not be unusual if we start having a modernised version of bicycles in the market with various gadgets.
      Lt Col Rashid Cheema (the Editor) may advise you how to upload/attach the picture of the Dutch Prime Minister in this regard.
      Thanking you for your nice comments.

  11. Azam Gill, France says:

    Dear Rafique Ahmed Khan Sahib,

    Another excellent job of retrieval, coherence and communication of bygone values within the framework of bygone objects.

    And this time Rashid Cheema (Editor) has excelled himself with the appropriateness of the images.

    I remember my father and uncles all had Raleigh and Phillips bicycles with dynamos and lights. They were superbly maintained.

    I used to go to school on my Raleigh, although at a time when it had become quite common to have one or two passengers!

    In France, I cycled to work for a year when I was at the National Teacher Training Institute. Even as a means of transport, the French prefer sporty rather than classic bicycles, and used to often cheer seeing me in my raincoat and flat cap on a classic bicycle with my briefcase tied to the back carrier! On the way back home I would stop at a grocer’s to buy fruit or vegetables which I carried in the front basket. I had also installed a teen-teen-p’hua’an – a hand pressed air horn which I liberally used despite being occasionally cautioned by an over-zealous police officer!

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Azam Gill Sahib,
      Many thanks for such an amusing note. It is also great of Cheema sahib for his help and cooperation in this regard.
      To ride a bicycle is still very thrilling, joyful and so economical. It also is very healthy being a good exercise. During pre Partition period bicycles were also checked strictly for light during dark hours. Only two persons were allowed; the passenger was allowed only on the back carrier.

  12. Shaheda Rizvi, Canada says:

    Dear Rafique Ahmed Khan Saheb,

    Thank you so much for another illuminating view of pre-Partition Pindi, with its trains, tongas, bicycles, bullock carts, donkey carts. I have been thinking of those fragrant days again, riding on my medium sized bike, through much of Westridge. No soot, smoke, oil spills, dirt, dust or traffic congestion.

    You wrote: “One very interesting aspect of all such transport was that no vehicle was allowed strictly any overloading right from bicycles to buses. Only one person was allowed to ride the bicycle, only three passengers were allowed in Tongas. All the vehicles could not run without warning bells/horns and lights at night.” Very much so.

    All of us, which included my father, brothers and me had our own Hercules bicycles – Our bicycles were of different sizes, based on our heights– From a medium Hercules to a full size one. My father rode his bicycle to work. All bikes were purchased by my Uncle for almost NOTHING from a family that was leaving for India. And then he passed them onto us. Yosuf (a railway employee) taught us how to repair a flat tire, with a liquid solvent , how to straighten our handles and adjust little maladjustments, and we carried our little air-pumps, and a pre-fixed head light, a basket in front for holding small items, and a manual bell. Regarding Omni buses: I recall one public bus that circulated around the Westridge area (late 50s –early 60s) with very few passengers, no overloading ever, always on time. Those were the days!!

    I am happy to note that bicycles are returning to many Western cities in Europe and North America. In Montreal we now have Bixies to pick up at special points near the Metro—Hope is to reduce traffic congestion + air pollution.

    Many prayers for you and your loved ones.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Madam,
      Many thanks for your exhaustive note. I have also read and seen on TV about various Cycle Depots from where the cycles can be hired. To ride a cycle is a very good exercise also. It is good that this comfortable ride is coming back. No fumes, no pollution, no fatal accidents and no extra expenditure on fuel. How you must be enjoying to remember your sweet stay in Westridge – calm, quiet and clean area to ride a cycle. During pre Partition period I used to see a lot of British ladies riding cycles in the Cantonment and Westridge areas.

      With best compliments and blessings.

  13. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah says:

    Dear Sir,

  14. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Dear Sir,
    Your article is excellent. It reminds me of my childhood. My father had 3 x cycles Robin Hood, Phillips and Hercules and later when one of those was stolen he bought Raleigh. My friends would not believe that there was any cycle named by Robin Hood and Phillips. Thanks for confirming. Sir, your articles are of great value and information. Thanks once again.
    Best Regards.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Masood Alam,
      Thank you sir, for your nice observation. Robin Hood and Raleigh were status symbol cycles and were proudly owned by only the high gentry. These cycles were visible only in the Cantonment and Military residential areas.

  15. Lt Gen (R) M.K. Akbar says:

    Dear Rafique Sahib,
    Superb as usual. Your articles bring back fond memories.
    My first bike bought at Karachi in 1948 was for Rs. 90. Second was a Robin Hood imported from UK. In 1957, I got a Raleigh Sports for Rs. 296 (permit/control price). It had a hub dynamo (this did not require more effort as with friction type dynamos), 4 speed Sturmey Archer gear and a saddle bag. One felt on the top of the world while riding such bikes. When one grows older, it needs a much more expensive article to give one the same “kick”.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Gen M. K. Akbar,
      So kind of you sir, for the comment. During old days the bicycles were as luxurious rides as are the cars these days. Raleigh was a status symbol bicycle; and could only be afforded by the high gentry. Cycles with Hub Dynamos and speed gears were so scarce that they could only be counted on fingers.

  16. Dear Rafique Sahib,
    May God give you good health and zeal to continue with such interesting write ups. I wish one can compile them for National Archives. It just shows what is good governance and how much it is missed in Pakistan.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Yahya Sahib,
      Thank you sir, for your gracious remarks and sentiments. May God bless you.

  17. Muhammad Shahin says:

    Mr. Rafique, you are magnificent as usual.

    Wonderful article bringing nostalgic memories. My father too once had a Phillips bicycle and a radio of which we then the small kids used to be very proud of. I still remember when I was serving in Sialkot Cantt as 2nd Lt I was checked by the military police for cycling without light just after Maghreb time and the next day I had a very tough time in my CO’s office. The same day I purchased the bicycle battery operated lamps.
    I had a chance to travel in Pindi bus service to Murree in early 50’s. Then that bus terminal used to be at the end of Raja Bazaar near Maulana Ghulam Ullah’s mosque.

    Keep it Mr. Rafique and we are waiting anxiously for another article. Regards.

    • Dear Shahin Sahib,
      So nice and kind of you sir, for your keen interest in my memoirs. At least I have obtained a strong witness in you to my statement regarding the strict law and order situation during the period gone by for ever. To serve in Defence – a noblest profession converts us into perfect civilized and disciplined humans.
      I used to go to Pindi Bus Service “ADDA” to use their phone, whenever I needed; being nearest to my residence. I still remember the black telephone set whose polish became faded due to never been cleaned.

  18. Lt Col Muhammad Arshad Meer (Retd) says:

    A document which must be preserved in every home library. An excellent research work. I appreciate author’s effort and congratulate him. Someone must pay attention towards other cities of Pakistan as well.

  19. Dr. Arif Qureshi, USA says:

    Rafique Sahib,

    Just like master rug weaver you are weaving a tapestry of multiple hues and colors. We would hope this never ends but at least intend to enjoy all the weaves and twists and turns as long it lasts. My sincere prayers for your good health and that of your loved ones and all others.

    Some of your beautiful memories are in a way intertwined with few of mine as we lived on 33 Lawrence Road (now Haider Road) from 1955-61.To go back to those wonderful younger days as you have so beautifully done is beyond amazing. The details are colorful like a well arranged bouquet of species which in my dreams I can still smell growing in Pindi!

    My prized bike was a gift on my 12th birthday, a Hercules bicycle bought in 1958 for Rs. 125!

    Keep it going brother, you are one a kind!

    Many Duaaz.

  20. Rafique Khan Sahib,
    Wonderful nostalgic article with equally nostalgic photos.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Editor,
      The credit goes to you sir, for the marvelous reproduction of my memoirs with such accurate & relevant illustrations.

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