My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 12)

By Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Editor’s Note: The writer was born in Rawalpindi in 1925. 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 11………..

One of very old but mysterious buildings in Rawalpindi Cantonment was the Masonic Lodge on the Canning Road opposite Gurgson Dry Cleaners, which used to be called “JADOO GHAR” (Magic House). Its  entrance was always guarded by an uniformed man with “Naked sword”. Only the members with their finger rings engraved with the “Masonic Insignia” were allowed. Very little is known about that mysterious building except that highly educated persons used to visit the building quietly, and would leave also without talking to any one else. It was said that they could only be recognized as per their unusual shake hands. The Masonic lodges in Pakistan were banned in 1972 by the then President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s regime and all the records were confiscated by the government. No meetings took place after 1972 and this building started turning into ruins. In the general public no one knew what used to happen inside the building; which has remained a mysterious secret till today.

First Masonic Lodge in Subcontinent of India at RawalpindiEditor’s Note: There were three Masonic Lodges in Rawalpindi. The first Masonic Lodge in Indian subcontinent was “Light in the Himalayas” located in Rawalpindi and was under the headship of the notorious Grand Lodge of Scotland. Other famous lodges in Rawalpindi were the Stewart Lodge No. 1960 (Doesn’t pertain to year) E.C. under the headship of British and the Black Mountain Lodge No. 1256. under the headship of Scottish Grand Master. No one is sure what was the exact name of this “JADOO GHAR” out of the three Masonic Lodges. More details can be found here:
Readers of this website are also requested to give their input/info about the mysterious Masonic Lodge.

The other very imposing building was the Rawalpindi Club on the Mall Road. It’s IN Gate was on the Mall while the OUT Gate was on Canning Road. In late 1980s, some commercial plazas were built on the Mall and the Club had its entrance and exit on Canning Road and the view of the Mall Road was blocked by the eye-sore concrete jungle of Plazas. The Club was called “NAATCH GHAR” by the general public. It was used only by the Military Officers and high-ranking Civil Officers, who used to come in the evenings for playing games, swimming, drinking, dancing and all types of happy gatherings. The Club also had two tennis courts, a swimming pool and a cricket ground known as Pindi Club Ground. The drinking was stopped when Pakistan was declared total “Dry” in 1977, banning all types of alcoholic drinks by the Muslims. During early 1940s and before; a big line of good condition shining “Tongas” used to wait till late nights at the OUT GATE for their drunk Gora (British) passengers. The “KOCHWANS” (drivers) who also were pimps used to earn lot of money during their night shifts. Many such drivers befriended with their particular passengers who used to hire only the same Tongas regularly.

Canning Road OUT Gate of Pindi Club in 1877

Army completely took over Pindi Club when Gen Aslam Baig was Army Chief (I think it was 1989). The name was changed to “GHQ Artillery Officers Mess”. All memberships of civilians were cancelled and it was only for serving and retired Army officers. Pindi Club is still running very high. Now the premises can be hired for marriage and other such type of parties also through the Members: which is quite contrary to the previous tradition when the atmosphere in the Club used to remain prestigious and quite differently non commercial. During early 1940s and before, all types of alcoholic drinks were openly and abundantly available in the hotels, restaurants and shops. In addition to the drinks other intoxicating drugs like opium etc; were also available in the specially authorized shops called “THAIKAAS”. One such “THAIKAA” was operating in the “MOCHI BAZAAR” from where the regular clients used to get their rationed quota daily. There was another drug used by common poor people, it was “BHANG” (Marijuana). It was also called GREEN ROSE by the addicts (BHANGEES) as pet name. This drug was mostly used in the Shrines/tombs of saints to get their blessings.

Though the imported whiskies, wines and beers were abundantly available in the market; but the local alcoholic drinks produced by the Murree Brewery were also sold in the shops, restaurants and hotels. The quality of the locally produced liquors were not less than the imported ones. The production of the local alcoholic drinks has increased against the expected apprehension, that after the country going “dry” the Brewery would have to be closed down. Due to excellent quality, the products are liked and consumed internationally.

I still remember one very interesting incident during 1940s when I was working in the Military Farms Rawalpindi. The supply of waste “malted grains” to the Military Farms for consumption by the Frisian Cows, suddenly stopped due to some breakdown in the Brewery. Evidently prominent signs of anxiety, uneasiness, difficulty in walking and drop of milk production were observed in the cows. The matter was investigated and observed that the cows who had become addicted; were behaving peculiarly due to the absence of the malted grains from their fodder. The Vets had to take immediate detoxifying measures to stop the problem. Eventually the feeding of the malted grains was stopped after tapering the daily consumption.

Mrs. Davies Private Hotel, Rawalpindi, its Annex in 1983There used to be another imposing building of Flashman’s Hotel. The common public could not even think of going near it; as almost all the guests were European or British.  Front Office Staff was mostly the Anglo-Indians. The Kitchen staff, Bearers, House Keepers and the Barmen were mostly Indians in neat dresses headed by some Anglo-Indian. It was an extra luxurious hotel with all the Rooms and Halls on the ground floor with no upper floor. The Banquet Hall had wooden floor lighted with costly crystal chandeliers hanging on the ceiling. After the Partition of India the standard of quality has reduced, though the building has been renovated & enlarged up to the modern standards. Nearby there used to be another hotel called Mrs. Davies Private Hotel. It was used as a private Paying Guest House mostly with restricted number of guests. It has since been demolished. Apart from these two hotels there was no significant hotel worth mentioning in Saddar Area.

Recent image of Falshman's Hotel, The Mall Road, Rawalpindi

Another impressive building was that of the Railway Station. It is an 19th century building built with the best of architecture and style. The Platform which was not covered earlier was later provided with huge shade covering most of the area. The passengers now feel quite safe from the scorching sun and heavy rains. There were good quality big Waiting Rooms for 1st; & 2nd;  class passengers with nice Refreshment Rooms. The catering was provided by the famous Caterers M/s Spencer & Co; in the Refreshment Rooms and the Dinning Cars in the trains. The quality of the food which used to be western type, was exceptionally good served by the well-groomed waiters in Indian style white uniform (long coats on shalwar qameez) with stiff Punjabi turban wound on braided Cones (Qullah). The 3rd; class passengers used to have snacks, tea or food from the vendors at the platforms. There was also a waiting room for 3rd; class passengers called “MUSSAFAR KHAANA” with no catering or other facility except wooden benches to sit with their luggage around them.

Rare old image of Platform of Rawalpindi Railway Station without shade covers

Trains used to run strictly on schedule; and late arrivals was unknown term. The railway compartments were not as comfortable as are now; but no special convenience was felt by the public who was used to such tolerable hardships. The seats in the 3rd class were wooden and not cushioned. The passengers used to carry their bedding in the Holdall. The common luggage used to include one or two trunks/suit cases, one Holdall, Tiffin box and an umbrella. More than 20 Kgs of luggage was charged a few annas per Kg; in the 3rd class compartment (Editor: The 3rd class compartment has been abolished since long and now called Economy Class. The Inter class and 2nd class compartments have been totally abolished. At present there are only six type of classes in the trains namely; AC (Air-Conditioned) Sleeper, AC Parlour, AC Business, AC Lower, 1st Class Sleeper and Economy).

Rare and Old photo of Rawalpindi Railway Station in 1884

Rawalpindi Railway station, August 1940The Inter Class Compartments had their seats cushioned, but there were no fans. For unknown reasons only one or two small Inter Class Compartments were attached with the trains.  These compartments had only two berths upper & lower. All the other 1st; 2nd; and 3rd; class compartments were sufficient in numbers. The 1st; & 2nd; class compartments were very comfortable fitted with fans. The wash rooms were modern and fitted with bath shower. The windows were fitted with tinted glass. The upper class passengers were allowed 60 & 40 Kgs respectively. There were Dinning Cars attached with high-speed Express trains namely Frontier Mail and Delhi Express.

It used to take four days from Rawalpindi to Madras, Bombay or Calcutta. During pre Partition period North Western Railway was operating in the Punjab. There were many railway networks like GIP., BB & CI & East Indian Railway etc; operating in pre Partition India.

The quality standard of service provided by all other railway networks in India were much better than the NWR, which was notorious in pre Partition period also for its poor quality services and trains. (Editor: The name NWR continued for some time after Partition and then it was renamed as PWR {Pakistan Western Railway) in Feb 1961, and after the separation of East Pakistan it was changed to Pakistan Railways in May 1974).

Logos of North Western Railways, Pakistan Western Railway and Pakistan Railways

Recent image of Rawalpindi Railway Station.

Another imposing old times building is the General Post Office situated on Kashmir Road. Originally it was built with same old classical architecture; and the structure is still intact after the passage of considerable long time with heavy traffic of visitors. TO BE CONTINUED……………

Rare old photo of General Post Office (GPO) Rawalpindi

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)
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi 
Rawalpindi Blog 

Editor’s Note: 
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If it is not inconvenient, please do write a brief comment at the end of this page under the heading “Leave a Reply here”.
You are welcome to contribute nostalgic articles about Rawalpindi by sending to the Editor at:


  1. Just a quick update to say that we had a visitor from New Zealand in town two weeks ago. Dorothy McMenamin was back after a gap of 53 years, to research her childhood spent in Rawalpindi (she was reunited with her classmate Bushi Yusufzai), as well as delve into the Anglo Indian community of the city. She then went on to Lahore for similar work, and is now back home, no doubt, working away on the masses of new knowledge come her way. Dorothy is the author of the book ‘From Raj to Downunder’.
    You can read up more about her, and her ongoing research at:

  2. Any details of Metropole Hotel in Rawalpindi near railway station as well as a branch in Murree and their owner Ch. Feroze during British days and early years of Pakistan?

  3. Rawul Pindee, The Raj Years by Ali Akbar Khan being launched at the ISlamabad CLub today at 4 pm

  4. Ali Akbar’s new book, Rawul Pindee, the Raj Years, A voyage through the mists fo tiem, is out. Large, profusely illustrated with period balck and white, and ‘colourised’ vintage prints, the book is a compilation of the people, places, stories, and legends of Rawul Pindee during the era of the Brish Raj. Splendidly put together by Topical printers of Lahore, this is one ‘must have’! Copies available directly from Ali in Islamabad.

  5. Rafique Khan Sahib,
    So nostalgic I am reading it again.

  6. Afzaal Khan says:

    Nostalgic read indeed!

  7. Chaudhry Saeed says:

    I really love this because Rawalpindi is my birth place and from that time I am in Rawalpindi till now, I LOVE MY RAWALPINDI….

  8. Ian States says:

    Dear Mr Khan,
    Thank you for your evocative articles on old Rawalpindi. Whilst I haven’t read all of them yet, I saw no mention of a club known by locals as the Chota Club. Do you recall this institution, and if so, I would be appreciative to read your recollections?

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Mr. Ian States,
      Thank you for the appreciation. Apart from the Pindi Club which was meant for mainly the Army Officers; there used to be a CHOTA CLUB whose members were mainly the Civilian Officers, Anglo Indians and well-to-do Indians who used to gather for drinks and gossips. If I do not make any mistake it was also located near Mall Road.

  9. Gretchen White says:

    Dear Mr. Khan,

    This is a wonderful article!

    I lived in Rwalpindi as a child in 1954 and am trying to find the name of the large (at least it was very large to me then) hotel we lived in for several months. It had many bungalows, and we walked to a building that was the dining room. I believe there was also a theater or auditorium on the grounds. It was beautifully landscaped, and there was a large banyan tree past the main building that we children loved to play in.

    If anyone knows the name of the hotel, I would so much appreciate having it. Thank you

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Mr. Gretchen White,
      Thank you for the comment. If you please mention the name of the road which had the hotel & bungalows to enable me to recollect the area.

      • Gretchen White says:

        Mr. Khan,
        Thank you for your response. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the street. I was only 7 years old, a very long time ago. I remember that there was a big open-air laundry very close by.

        • Afzaal Khan says:

          A few more pointers of what was close by and it can be married down!

        • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

          Afzaal Khan Saheb,
          Yes, sir, in the complete absence of any relevant pointer it is very difficult to race such locations.

  10. Brig (R) Qaiser Viqar Naqvi says:

    I also lived in pindi for a long time. Silver Grill restaurant on the mall was quite popular.The first chinese restaurant DIM SUM was a little ahead next to W. Wilson. I remember taking my fathers car to Abdul Rehman and Sons auto workshp next to shezan opp GPO, which is no more there.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Brig (R) Qaiser Viqar Naqvi Saheb The names of Silver Grill, Dim Sum, W. Wilson, Shezan & “Mistry Abdur Rehman” ( Abdul Rehman & Sons Autos) is still very much alive & fresh in my memory sir; as I was a regular visitor to these facilities. Late Mr. G.R. Butt the Manager of W. Wilson and later a C.G.O in the Ordnance Depot RWP was a relative of mine.

  11. Maj (R) Amjid Quamber says:

    Today the swimming pool of Pindi Club has been demolished. Sad news for those who swam there in their childhood.
    More so, the powers to be have decided to demolish the Club building. The outer shops have been given notice already.
    Another old landmark of Pindi will soon be no more.

    • Afzaal Khan says:

      Those shops were a stupid error and ruined the club front area!

      • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

        Maj (R) Amjid Quamber & Mr. Afzaal Khan,
        The grace of the Pindi Club was worth seeing before the Partition. But after the Partition and specially when it was declared “Dry”, the regular members almost stopped visiting and only the Young Officers were seen sipping a cup of tea. The construction of shops, etc; ruined the left over grace of the once so impressive & imposing English Style building of the Club.

  12. Albert Dean, Canada says:

    Mr. Rafiq Khan Sahib,
    I express my gratitude for providing such a treasure chest of information about Rawalpindi, of pre-Partition times.
    Because this article was so brilliantly written and vividly presented, whilst reading it and visualising the places described, I felt that I was viewing a documentary film of all the buildings, hotels and structures mentioned. It was rather unpleasant to read that commercial Plazas have been built in front of Pindi Club, thereby disrupting the natural landscape which was most beautiful. Besides Flashman’s and Mrs. Davis Private Hotel, I think another hotel called Metropole hotel was situated in Sadder not far from the Railway Station.

    • Afzaal Khan says:

      Mr. Albert Dean,
      There was a Mackson Road and a Kreigh Road and three othe,r all coming into a roundabout! There was a Sayle or Shores Hotel there in a big bungalow. Mid 5os, would you have recollection of that and the original Wilson Chemist shop!

    • Zahiruddin Khan aka babar says:

      for Mr. Albert Dean. what a surprise to see your name. I am sure you are the brother of Parvez Dean and we used to go to Station School on the same tonga. Your MOM, God bless her soul used to teach us. Your dad used to teach at Gordon College and the hockey and basketball grounds were our play grounds in the evenings. We used to live on Gordon College Road opposite the Post Office . Some of our common friends were Yasin, Nasim, Michael and Gene sons of Nasir sahib who also taught at Gordon College.
      I still remember the skit in Jubilee Hall where they showed a contraption. They put an egg in one door and out came a hen. After few of these, Your dad walked and and entered the door and you came out of the other door showing that the machine could also reverse the process. It was hilarious. This is a long trip down memory lane, circa 1958-1959

  13. Zahir Khan says:

    Rafique sahib,

    This is another very interesting piece about Rawalpindi. Major Amjid Quamber has mentioned the Anglo-Indian police sergeant. There were two. The one he is referring to was Sergeant Blunt. The other one was Sergeant Gardener. Ronny Gardener also represented Pakistan in the 1960 Rome Olympics as hockey goalie along with Naseer Bunda, Muneer Dar, Habib Ali Kiddie. Pakistan won the Gold Medal beating India by the narrowest margin. Gardener was known to even head the hockey shots with his forehead. These sergeants would police the whole of Pindi starting from Gujar Khan all the way to Sang Jani including Raja Bazaar. Seldom would anybody dare to break the law. No tonga could ply on the road without two side lights (lanterns), seldom did a tonga wala dare to pass by these officers if he was not wearing a uniform, nor a car could drive on The Mall with its high beam, not to mention the number plates. Total number of police officials on their Harley Davidson were 3. The third was Emmanual. Later on as they retired, they were replaced by one I remember, Sergeant Bajwa and others.

    Talking about Flashman’s. There manager Fabian, an Australian introduced buffet lunch in Rawalpindi around 1964-65 for Rs. 11 and it was the talk of town. Lunch for Rs. 11. Wow!! Now you can get one small tandoori kulcha with sesame seeds for that amount. The two other hotels you missed were Kashmir Hotel near Panjsarki and Metropolitan Hotel at the end of Edwardes Road (Bank Road) besides Dawn Hotel (Barkat Plaza) and Mrs. Davies Private Hotel that you mentioned. It was situated on Bank Road near the Departmental Club.

    The old Masonic Lodge (at the intersection of Canning Road and Haider Road) area is now used as a parking by Askari Bank. It only has two pillars of the entrance gate with huge concrete balls on top. The traffic is a chaos unlike the good old days.

    What would be your next subject? I look forward to it.

  14. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, USA says:

    Dear Rafique Sahib,

    It is a treat to read your pieces especially for those who only have faint memories of the city that you are writing about. I was born in the late 60s and have faint memories of Pindi that you are trying to resurrect in your pieces.

    I remember seeing all those beautiful buildings which have been torn down and replaced with ugly concrete structures especially in Saddar.. A law may be enacted to preserve historical buildings.

    My grandfather Syed Niaz Ahmed Tirmizi, Head Master of the Muslim High School moved into a house after Partition near the school. It was formerly known as Khalsa High School. The house was built in the 1930s by the Principal of the Khalsa High School. One of my uncles still lives in that house which is still in very good condition. Deodar was used for windows and doors. Even after 80 years, they are in immaculate condition. I was told the first owner came to see the house in the 1960s and 1980s and broke down after seeing his home. He never turned up again. I guess he would have moved onto the next world.

    Rafique Sahib your articles should be compiled into a book. You have an amazing gift of writing such beautiful prose.

    Dr. Surriyya Malik was a cousin of my Chachi. She passed away last year. I am in touch with her daughter who is a physician in Houston, USA.

    Respectful regards.

    Faisal Niaz Tirmizi

  15. Maj (R) Amjid Quamber says:

    There were two other hotels in Rawalpindi cantonment; Shores Hotel off the Mall and next to EME Mess (Where GHQ BOQs are now) and one next to the railway station which is in ruins now with construction machines standing there. Both places had long term residents and were popular with the Anglo-Indian community.
    I have bought diesel for 75 paisa a gallon and petrol for Rs. 1.50 per gallon. There were a total of 200 registered vehicles in Pindi when we registered our car!
    My parents had forbidden us from riding our bicycles on the Mall so we used the horse track which ran alongside the Mall!
    There was a famous Anglo-Indian police officer on his Harley Davidson who was the terror for all motorisst and would even chalan bicycles without lights at night! I believe he moved to Canada on retirement.
    And let’s not forget the Disco in Intercontinental Hotel.

    • Afzaal Khan says:

      The Metropole Hotel near the railway station was one time used by Army officers in 30’s and 40’s, sadly in ruins now.
      Another hotel was on Kreigh Road near the so called Panj-sarki roundabout, there was Suffok House close by, in ruins still there! Opposite that was our Army house in 50’s. My father had his thoroughbred horses in the back stables, later this huge house was joined into a school area and became its back grounds. The school front was on the Mall.

  16. Rafique Khan Sahib,
    Another exemplary article full of explicit details of my home town Pindi. You have an amazing nostalgia provoking skill in prose. I like your details of classes in Railway. In 1960s I can remember travelling in Tezgam from Rawalpindi to Karachi. I remember Blue Lagoon swimming pool and vivid memories of watching cricket match between MCC and Pakistan at Pindi Club Ground.
    Mrs Davies Hotel was one of the properties of my uncle (Late Akhtar Mirza) acquired after Partition but went into government control later in 1980s.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Mr. Sajid Baig,
      Many thanks for your nice appreciation and further information. 1960 was only a yesterday for me as I am recollecting my memoirs mostly of pre- 1930s.

  17. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Thank you for yet another beautiful and knowledgeable write up. After reading all your write ups at times I get disturbed and feel that instead of going forward like all other nations are we in reverse gear? Every thing was fine and wonderful then. Common man seemed to be contended, people had more time to enjoy and basic principles and norm of life were adhered to. Buildings and roads were well maintained without pollution and congestion but now every thing seems to be the opposite. May be sir you also write about this debacle and its main causes. Please share your experience and wisdom on this topic too.

    • Dear Lt Col Masood Alam,
      You are quite right sir, as we in the past, were enormously happy and contended people with little requirements. With the invention of the modern gadgets our life has become so complicated, busy and restless that the past looks like a dream only. We have entered into a shameful race to have more & more that we resorte easily to even adopt to corruption openly to achieve our demands. Would you believe that we would go to sleep immediately after dusk and wake up earliest to resume the normal and peaceful life, that you can not even dream of. Inspite of the fact that being a multi religion society we were living along with non Muslims in an appreciable peaceful manner. Now a days we do not tolerate even the Muslims of other sects. It is such a vast subject which requirse voluminous works to explain. The responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Intellectuals to take over the lead and guide the nation towards a peaceful and meaningful life.
      With regards.

  18. Siraj Syed, USA says:

    Dear Mr. Rafiq Ahmad Khan,
    This article took me back to my young days when I lived in Rawalpindi from 1956 to 1966. I was shocked to know that the Masonic Lodges all over Pakistan were shut down by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1972. My father was a Mason and I remember going and attending a party at the Masonic Lodge at Lahore in 1951. My father passed away in 1971 and he told me that Mr. Bhutto was refused membership of the Masonic Lodge because he had a big mouth and could not keep secrets. Probably this was the reason he could not get membership. Nearly 44 years after my fathers’s death, my youngest daughter is an employee of the Masonic Lodge at Colorado as their graphic designer and she is paid very well.
    Since my father served the Madras and Southern Maratha (M&SM) Railways before Partition and Pakistan Western Railway (PWR) after the Independence, we traveled a lot all over India and Pakistan.
    Khan Sahib, you have re freshened my mind of Dr. Minhas whom I knew very well. I also visited his house near Jamia Masjid, Rawalpindi when it was burned down. His daughter Surriya Malik was a great family friend of ours and she moved to 33 Saidpur Road and established her children delivery hospital. She had 2 sons and one daughter. Last year she died and her son Moti (nick name) who is a leading Cardiologist in Texas and her daughter Sabina called me to tell about their mother’s death.
    I have lots more to tell you, but I only type with one finger and it takes me a long time.
    Khuda Hafiz.

    • Dear Mr. Siraj Syed,
      So nice of you sir, appreciating the efforts to recollect my memoirs. Like every politician Mr. Bhuto also could not restrict to only the good deeds; hence he also committed a lot of things which can be attributed to doing things with negative results. He was a sentimental person; and in order to be the Prime Minister allowed so easily the separation of East Pakistan. Dr. Minhas was our family doctor and friend. I knew Mrs. Surriya when she was a teenager. As a matter of fact they were returnees from Uganda; and related to Dr. Mehmood Ali Khan who practised at “Pull Shah Nazar” in front of Masjid “Wahabiyan”. He purchased the residence of Dr. Teal a British in the cantonment area and shifted to live in there. I felt very sad to listen about Mrs. Surriya’s death. Don’t worry sir, I am also a one finger typist and not a “touch typist”.
      Thanking you again and with blessings.

  19. Sattar khan says:

    Thank you, Rafique Khan Sahib.

  20. Shaheda Rizvi, Canada says:

    Dear Rafique Khan Saheb,

    It is said that people with fine memories are those who recall their childhood memories often, and you are certainly one marvelous proof of that theory. But it’s not just your fine memory that needs mentioning but the whole package – package of exploring and expressing Pindi times with grace, ease and fluency, combined with academic objectivity, and Sufi-like philosophy. I have loved and enjoyed all twelve episodes. Thank you so much.

    Of course the Railways (PWR – of my times) played a pivotal role in my life, and reading your description of various classes, that is 1st to 3rd, I was reminded of our journeys from Pindi to Peshawar and how each tiny station presented its own unique character, with vendors selling fresh fruits from their farms… and the stations themselves so unique, clean, well swept…You have provided me with much food for thought and a theme for my next story. Again, so many thanks.

  21. Sultan Jamshed. says:

    Dear sir,
    The latest nostalgic account of Rawalpindi is really a memory boosting for those who have this city five or six decades before. During my adolescent time, the Masonic Lodge was fully operative and was known as described ” Jadoo Ghar”. During 1965 War, the Masonic Lodge became a suspicious place from spying point of view and finally disbanded during 1971 War. I was a regular customer of Grugson Dry Cleaners, who never delivered the clothes in time. Bhatti Photographer was most expensive photographer of the town. Railway Station’s Dinning Room was one of the best places for spending cold evenings of December & January specially when any train with Stephenson’s black locomotive was present at the platform. Had Mr. Rafique mentioned about the road (now Kashmir Road) on which the GPO’s building is situated, it would have been a jewel in the crown. I, myself in spite of sharping my memory, couldn’t remember the original name of road. The wine shop known as “Dadabhoy” may be added, as shared by Brig Hashim. That’s all for now.

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

    Rafiq Sahib,
    Thanks for another historical account of Pindi. It was 30 Apr 1968 when I boarded the train from Pehawar for Pindi. I had a trunk, holdall, etc. I was joining CMT&SD Golra after passing from PMA. Capt Anwar Lodhi came to receive me at Pindi railway station. Traveling by train always fascinated me since my childhood. Ordnance School was located at Malir. Going to Malir was a 28 hours journey. Tezgam used to leave Pindi at 8 am and reach Karachi by 10 am next day.
    We were frequent visitors of Pindi Club. Finger fish and potato chips were used to be served hot and spicy.
    Hard drinks were issued by CSD on cash payment. We were about 20 Lts/Capts in Golra. On joining the unit one bottle costing Rs. 117 was served to all. May God forgive me. I never had drinks in service, thanks God. The messing for breakfast, lunch and dinner was less than Rs. 5. As food member I remember the mutton was sold for Rs. 5 per one saer (approx 1 kg). Railway is now off line and mutton is out of the reach of people. In a country of 190 millions the strategic transportation of food, fuel and men and material is mostly by oard. Which is expensive, takes longer, etc. This is due to the criminal negligence of successive govts. Not a single railway engine was added to railway fleet in last 5 years of PPP rule.
    Best regards and prayers .

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Brig Khalil-Ur-Rehman,
      I have to thank you sir, for your kind sharing my memoirs. The finger fish and potato chips was a very famous & common snack for the “drink” members of Pindi Club. “Barha” and “Chota” soda whisky pegs were served at Rs. 7 and Rs. 4 respectively. Murree Brewery Beer used to come for rupee one per bottle only, during 1930s-40s. I have purchased mutton six annas a seer, pure ghee one rupee per kg, suger three annas per kg, chicken four to eight annas per piece during 1930s-40s.
      For the restoration of pre- World War Two/ pre- Partition peaceful period, we have only to pray and wait for some miracle to happen. We may see those times if some leader with full integrity of character i.e., an honest, efficient and hardworking one comes to lead the nation.
      Incidentally I know a few Ordnance Officers also. Persian speaking. Late Brig. Saif Ur Rehman (Ex. Commandant COD), who knew my father-in-law Agha Ghulam Jilani (a well known Film Exhibitor in Pindi) and used to visit him off and on. I knew Late Col. N A Ansari, who became my boss as the Director Purchases in PIA; and was very kind with me. Later he Joined M/s Glaxo; and I used to visit him in his house in the Defence Karachi till his death. I knew Col S U Durrani who started business in Karachi after his retirement and used to visit me frequently in PIA Purchases Department Karachi on commercial visits. Both these Officers were ex Commandants of COD Pindi. Col Dost Muhammad was my colleague in PIA. Interestingly I knew Maj. Urquhart who was a Commandant of COD Pindi during mid 1940s. He was much interested in the Poultry Farming; and used to visit me frequently when I was working in the Military Poultry Farm in Westridge, Rawalpindi. He became very friendly with me and used to invite me to his residence for tea.

  23. Syed Shahid Salam, Canada says:

    Rafique Khan Sahab:
    Thank you for another nostalgia evoking article. I remember a Bhatti photographer on the corner of Canning Road.
    Another landmark was the Pindi Club cricket ground which hosted teams from England, the MCC and the West Indians with their awesome pace bowler Wesley Hall. I believe the teams used to stay at the Flashman’s.
    We have a photo of the English team led by Ted Dexter at a reception in their honour at Topi Park.
    Any idea if it was Bhutto or Zia who officially banned alcohol?

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Syed Shahid Salam Sahib,
      Thank you sir, for the nice appreciation and valuable information. It was Mr. Bhutto who banned the alcoholic drinks in Pakistan, if I don’t make any mistake.
      With regards

  24. An historical and comprehensive article written in a very good style.

  25. Azam Gill, France says:

    Thank you, Rafique Khan Sahib, for another fascinating read, generating unjustified nostalgia since I only made a few brief visits to ‘Pindi’.
    Your pen deserves a drink, sir!

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Azam Gill Sahib,
      Thank you sir, for such gracious appreciation.
      My pen would also thank you very much for the nice drink, and would not mind one for the road also.
      With regards

  26. Brig (R) Hashim Khan says:

    The Masonic Lodge was later occupied by a Mr. Babar Sahib. His son used to be a friend of mine. Mr. Babar was something big in Pakistan Arts Council. There used to be two liquor shops in Saddar. One was on Canning Road “Ishaq Sons”, next to Grugson Dry Cleaners and the other was “Khan Bros” which was located adjacent to the GPO in a building which was demolished and is now known as Cantt Plaza. Near Ciros Cenema there used to be a Billiard Club, where characters like ‘Mama Blackiya’ and ‘Phaapa Chakka’ used to hang around. There was another person ‘Kaka’ who was a gate keeper in Ciros Cinema but also used to sell movie tickets in ‘black’ for a slightly higher price.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Brig Hashim Khan,
      Thank you sir for the valuable information. Almost all the big/famous Cafe hotels & General Merchants used to sell the alcoholic drinks till the country was declared “Dry”. M/s Aduljee was also a big Wine dealer.

  27. Editor says:

    Rafique Khan Sahib,
    A very well written piece of history about Rawalpindi.
    I am living in Pindi since the last 26 years but didn’t know about the Masonic Lodge. After the demolition of this building, it was used by transport mafia as a Wagon Stand which was evicted by Station Headquarters in 1993-94. Now the premises is being used for car parking for the staff of Standard Chartered Bank (old Grindlay’s Bank) just across on Haider Road.

    • Rafique Ahemd Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Rashid Cheema,
      Many thanks sir, for your nice appreciation & valuable additions of photos as the Editor, without which the article would not have gained the popularity in the appreciating readership.
      With regards

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