By Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai
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 worked as a Consultant in Provisioning & Stock Control and Logistics in various Organisations. Finally retired from PIA and now lives in Dubai. He is writing a series of articles about the life in Rawalpindi during 1930s, 40s and 50s.
Continued from Part 8 ………..
The Cantonment in Pindi used to be known as the cleanest and second to none in every type of civic activities in rest of India. In spite of a multi religious residential area, there was a complete harmony, religious freedom and unity amongst all. All the Mosques, Mandirs, Gurdwaras and Churches were functioning smoothly without any interference. The administration was so strict that no one could dare do any crime without being punished immediately. Of course the religious/political processions and gatherings were not allowed in the open places. No other activity except the prayer was allowed in the religious places.
The common average Indian civilians were mostly living in streets and small lanes; whereas high gentry lived in bungalows and fashionable areas along with the British civilians. A very rich sector belonged to Bohra Muslims called Seth. Such very famous Seths were Seth Adamji, Seth Mamoonji. This Sect would not mix up with common people and remained confined in their own community. They are all in business profession dealers in Arms/Ammunition & Hardware. They still live in the central area called Saddar, and go to Jamaat Khana for prayers.
There used to be a big population of Anglo Indians (now extinct in Pakistan) also who mostly lived in the Westridge area in railway accommodations, and Lal Kurti area.
I still remember the Anglo Indian ladies and old gentlemen used to visit Military Poultry Farm in the Westridge, where I was posted during 1945. They used to come daily in the evenings to enjoy watching the different imported breeds of Poultry, rabbits, and guinea fowls. They used to bring sandwiches and tea to share with me and would show eagerness in poultry breeding. I remember one Mrs. Davies and her sister who lived opposite the bungalow where Col. Umar Khitab used to live. They were quite elderly well built bodied and very active and visited almost daily for very long. They were very sweet and soft spoken ladies.
At a small distance from the Military Poultry Farm, there was a big Piggery by the name of Sharp’s Piggery run by a British Mr. Haye, who used to keep high bred racing horses also. He also used to visit the Poultry Farm frequently; and arranged sending minced pig’s offal, lungs and liver for the birds free of any cost daily.
The British administration was very keen and interested to promote the modern type of poultry farming. A large number of heavy size electric incubators (Secura), and Kerosene run incubators (Hearson’s Champion, Griffin & Tatlocke) were imported and were used in hatching the costly eggs.
As the affairs in the Poultry Farm were running in full scale; suddenly I received an order to my horror, from the Pakistan Government during late 1947 or early 1948 to send all the live stock including all the imported birds and rabbits etc., to Royal Pakistan ASC for further distribution of the same for the consumption thereof in the Army Units. I may mention that the Farm had very precious and costly birds of imported breeds like Rode Island Red, White Leghorn, Light Sussex, Black Minorca, and rabbits like Giant Flemish, and Khaki Campbell, etc. I can not express the feeling of disappointment, uneasiness and anger in words here by the Anglo Indians in the Westridge, especially by Mr. Haye of Sharp’s Piggery, and every sensible person who learnt about this order.
While in the rest of the world modern poultry farming was being introduced on very high scale to achieve a better quality of eggs and chickens; in Pakistan it was being ordered to wind up a flourishing Poultry Farm producing high quality of breeding and table eggs and birds. Evidently I had to obey the orders with heavy heart, and disposed off all the live stock accordingly, closed the Poultry Farm and reported to the Main Military Farms. The equipment was sold to the second hand material dealers (KABAREES), and the Poultry Farm was locked up; which was later on took over by the Army Dog Breeding Training Centre & School.
Famous attractive places in the Cantonment were Saddar Bazaar, Babu Mohalla, Hathi Chowk, Main Market for Meat/fish/grocery and vegetables, Lal Kurti, Lunda Bazaar near Railway Station, Chik Bazaar, Kabari Bazaar. Hathi Chowk was very famous for food/snack shops where people enjoyed breakfast with “Halwa Puree”, Haleem, “Siri Paye”, green milk tea with “Malai”(cream), now known as Kashmiri pink tea, etc. The fresh cheese was only available in Hathi Chowk in the entire Pindi. A vendor who was from Peshawar used to come in the afternoon to sell fresh cheese right in the Central Hathi Chowk. His entire “Chaabrhi” containing total 5/6 kilos wrapped in green leaves used to finish within one to two hours.
The fashionable areas were The Mall Road, Dalhousie Road (now Kashmir Road), Edward Road (now Bank Road) and Lawrence Road (now Haider Road). Famous shops were in Ahatta Kirpa Ram where general merchandise/ crockery and tailoring shops were doing their business. Ismail Tailors, Jabbar Tailor, Master Khuda Bakhsh Tailor (My elder brothers and myself used to get our “BOSKI” shirts stitched by Master Sahib), Haji Noor Din Tailors and Qazi Tailor were all high class tailors in this area. Ismail Tailors were the most expensive tailors and would attend to stitching only the military officers’ uniforms and for very high gentry.
Editor: The following photo shows Magistrate A.P. Gill (with a garland around his neck) leaving Rawalpindi on his posting out in 1949. Master Khuda Baksh of Gown House is on his right wearing a turban. Photo contributed by Azam Gill, son of A.P. Gill.
The late Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan gave his measurements to this Ismail Tailors for his “SHERWANI” before his death in Pindi. Adjacent shops were the famous George Press and Model Photo shop mostly visited by the foreigners. There was another British photographer Mohatta Photographer on Kashmir Road. There was a Sheikh family which were carrying out big business in general merchandise crockery and electronics. This family had shops all over Saddar area. Sheikh Fazal Karim, Sheikh Abdul Latif and Sheikh Abdul Rehman were running very big business. Some other famous shops were Cosmo Shoes, Adelji, London Book Shop which during pre- Partition period was called J Rays & Sons, Wilson Chemist was owned by a British Chemist before the Partition, Shaws Radios was owned by two British brothers, Time & Tune, Time & Co, etc.
In the Lansdowne Cinema Building (now Plaza Cinema ) on The Mall Road there used to an old British Precision Instrument Mechanic. During early 1940s once when I went to his workshop, he was doing some repair job while standing, whereas his dog was sitting on his chair. After quite a long time the dog jumped down to greet his wife who brought something, it was then that the Mechanic occupied the chair to resume his job. I was much impressed to see his love and respect for his dear dog. 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)
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi
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