By Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai
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 12………..
I had been highlighting about the cleanliness of Pindi, which was notably better in quality in the Cantonment area than the city. As far as I remember, during 1930s and before the roads in the Cantonment were all metaled, but the sole of same was only cobbled in the city without being sprayed with Coal-Tar to make them dust proof. The only exception was the Murree Road which was metaled: whereas a portion of this road in front of the ISLAMIA HIGH SCHOOL was reinforced with concrete cement during 1940s as an experiment to see the result of such type of road.
With the exception of the Murree Road no other road was metaled, with the result that during rains it used to become extremely difficult to walk on these roads which became heavily muddied. There were no side walks for the pedestrians; and the people used to “cat walk” on the furrows in the mud made by the tyres of the passing truck or car, to avoid their foot wear gathering lot of mud. It was a scene worth seeing when the clothing of the pedestrians were sprayed with mud by the passing cars and the persons abusing the driver, and looking so helpless but mad with anger. The Raja Bazaar, Jamia Masjid Road, Purana Qilla, Bazaar Saraafan, Teli Mohalla and many such famous places in the inner city were worst affected during rains. During the heavy rains these areas were flooded/inundated with waist deep water. But the water cleared quickly as the drainage system was kept clean.
The sole of the main streets was covered with bricks to walk on with the drainage passing through the middle; as against the present system, where the drainage is made on both the sides, and which being quite improved way facilitated convenient walking. Metaling the streets with concrete cement slabs were started during 1950s. Now the streets do not become muddy at least during rains.
During 1940s and earlier the underground sewerage system was invariably cleaned almost daily; and we never heard of chocking of any sewerage. After the Partition the situation started deteriorating, with the result that now almost the entire sewerage system is at the verge of break down. During the British regime the local administration had to be vigilant in their official performance; being answerable for any inefficiency. All the class IV employees (sanitary staff), did not or could not think of any malingering or carelessness in their routine. Strict discipline was enforced and full output was obtained from the workers. I never saw any heap of filth lying by the roadside unattended, which was removed by the next mobile collection team in line coming from the previous point.
Members of the local Self Government, who were elected by the public used to be very vigilant and regularly checked the sanitation staff. I still remember the Member from my Ward used to go round the streets early in the mornings to check/inspect the sanitation progress. He used to surprise check the presence of the sanitary workers and their Supervisor as a daily routine.
Though the existence of corruption and malingering can not be denied during old days, but it was so negligent that it could easily be handled and corrected. This vice was visible in the Municipality, Civil Courts and Police but it was surely restricted to only a few persons who could be recognized due to visible guilt of conscious on their faces. Whereas the corruption, now a days is prevalent on a whole sale basis done with sense of pride and matter of right; it was considered then to be mean, shameful and disgraceful act below the dignity.
When I compare the situation prevailing during the pre 1940s days with the one prevailing now a days; the former looks like a dream. Similarly any written account about the old era may be taken as an unbelievable fiction. It was extremely difficult for us to believe that in future the gold will be sold @ Rs. 60000/- per tola as against Rs. 12/-, Mutton @ Rs. 400/-per kilo as against Rs. 0.4/- , Milk @ Rs. 80/- against Rs. 0.16/- per litre (One rupee was equal to 16 annas or 64 paisas) etc, etc,.
There were some ugly practices also prevalent in the city area. The Gowalas (fresh milk sellers) who owned sizable herd of buffaloes used to keep their herds in the buildings in the street, and used to move the herds out of the city twice a day; taking them to the Nullah Leh which flowed winding through the city, for bathing/cleaning. When such herds were moving on the roads all the traffic used to be interrupted and stopped.
The route also was littered with the animal dung, though it was immediately collected by the woman (following the herd) for making dung-cakes (GOHYAS, UPPLEYS) for fuel. These dung-cakes were used mostly by Muslims as a cheap fuel. This practice automatically solved the cleaning problem acting like a catalyst. The ashes from the burnt dung-cakes were used by mainly the Muslims to wash/cleanse the utensils.
The individual owners of milch animals used to tie their animals in front of their houses. They kept free lance Gowalas who used to clean, feed and milk the animals at fixed times of the day. This practice was really a nuisance for the neighbors in the form of offensive smell of the dung and the animal itself. In case of any objection by the neighbors the cattle was taken and tied inside the entrance of the house. The owners had to pay a certain amount as fee to the Municipality to keep the animals. Such cases were very rare in number, main reason being economical.
The Hindus used to keep the herd of cows in a specified area called Gaoo Shala. One Gaoo Shala was situated near the Shamshan Bhoomi (Hindu cremation site) near the Nullah Leh. The supply of the fresh cows milk was made from this Gaoo Shala to the consumers in the city area. This dairy was maintained properly as regards the hygiene and cleanliness of the sheds and open ground and the production of milk was concerned.
In addition to the cow and buffalo milk, the goat milk was also available freely. The sellers of the goat milk used to roam all over the streets with a herd of goats, and would start milking the goats when asked for milk. The consumers would get the milk straight from the goat to their container; and which was taken without boiling. The goat milk was considered as very healthy drink for the children. Often the children were made to sit near the goat to drink the milk straight from the teats, without using any glass/cup. The practice looked funny but it was surely the most hygienic way to avoid using the contaminated utensils. The children who otherwise do not take milk easily; also enjoyed this type of method. TO BE CONTINUED……………
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)
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi
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