By Maj Siaj Syed (17 PMA Long Course)
Editor’s Note: Maj Siraj Syed is from Artillery/Aviation. He has settled in USA since 1978.
In 1965, Down Town Pindi Saddar had a different look. There were some old spots which were constantly visited by the young Army Officers. First spot was the Super’s Ice Cream cafe run by the famous bald man Mukthar on Bank Road. Second was the famous Karim Samosa Wala where you could eat the best potato samosas and pink tea (opposite Standard Bank, now Habib Bank Ltd).
In the 60s, Saddar was a neat and clean place where you could find VIPs in the evening without any security and protocol. During week-days before sunset you could find the most immaculately dressed gentleman with a felt hat matching his suit standing in front of London Book Company (Now replaced by Unique Bakers) at the intersection of Kashmir Road and Bank Road, admiring all the beautiful girls. He was the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. I have many times seen Mr. ZAB standing outside the book shop near the railing puffing in a cigarette. He always stood with one leg on the ground and the other on the curved railing. . Now in 2013, after exactly 48 years, I visit my Physical Therapist regularly in a hospital in the USA, she makes me stand on one leg. After a minute I get tired and she makes me change to the other leg. This exercise tires me out completely in ten minutes. Surprisingly M.r ZAB stood for hours together on one leg. I always remember Mr. ZAB when I am made to stand on one leg by my Physical Therapist.
Peak hours for admiring beautiful girls was one hour before sunset to two hours after sunset. The younger unmarried Army officers would come across their seniors many times and they normally tried to avoid them. The younger lot visited Saddar Pindi for fun whereas the seniors visited to find their life partners.
After this we would all go to the Pindi Club to socialize and thrice a week Tombola was played there. The younger lot created so much noise that the Anglo-Indian man who conducted Tombola would announce, “If you can’t behave like officers, then behave like gentlemen”.
Immediately after Tombola, the tables and chairs were moved to the sides and ball room dancing started off. At 12 in the night the club would close and we headed back home.
On Sundays the same beautiful Down Town (Saddar) was full with booksellers selling old books and rehri walas (Carts) selling different items like clothes or food.
Odeon Cinema and Plaza Cinema ran English movies. These two cinema houses were in one big yard opposite where Askari Bank/AWT Plaza is now located on the Mall.
During those days the Down Town (Saddar) was immaculately clean and the Station Commander was the overall in charge. Col Mustafa was the in charge for many years.
Pindi, I miss you a lot.
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