By Maj Agha Amir Ahsan, Sigs (2nd SSC)
Editor’s Note: Maj Agha expired on 28 Nov 2012. This article was published the next day after his death.
Continued from Part 3……
Rawalpindi in those days was a very small city, Cantonment being the larger part in terms of area, the city area was not very clearly demarcated on its three sides, but limits were marked very clearly where it met with the cantonment in the south, generally along the railway line.
The Cantonment or the Cantt as we used to call it was absolutely different from the city. While the city was a complete chaos with dirty roads, unruly traffic and rowdy behavior, Cantt had clean roads, very efficient traffic police and generally well-behaved people. While ladies could come out unaccompanied without any fear and walk on the Cantt roads even after dark, they could not do that in the city because of the fear of eves teasing and harassment.
There were large well-kept grounds, where young men and children would come out and engage in healthy activities. There were hardly any indoor activities for children in absence of television and computers. It used to be a challenge for every mother to get her children inside the home in the evening. My curfew was the prayer call in the evening (Azan-e-maghrib), after which I could not go out unless accompanied by an elder.
We also had a grassy ground in our area, which was large enough to accommodate all children of the area, who would be either playing hockey or cricket, which were the two favorite sports, or a local game like hide and seek or pithoo garam. My father was an Army level tennis player, and very regularly played at the Signals Officers Mess, still located at the same place on 160, The Mall. The courts at that time were adjacent to the Panj Sarki and my father used to walk from our home. There was even a pedestrian gate in the wall, right in front of the roundabout. I sometimes used to accompany him for my favorite glass of Vimto lemon, and later on to play tennis.
Rawalpindi Club was another very attractive place. I never used to miss the children’s movie in the main hall on Sunday. There also used to be other movie shows in the evening, but I was not allowed to see them. I was very contended with my one cartoon or cowboy movie on the Sunday morning. In the summers, there was also a swimming pool in the Club, where I took my first swimming lessons. The large commercial buildings around the lawn were not there, and you could see the traffic moving on the Mall Road. The lawn always used to have chairs and tables where you could sit and enjoy the sun or a cool evening breeze depending upon the season. There used to be an army of waiters serving tea, snacks or food. It was also a favorite place for meeting friends or get together like birthday parties or Eid Milans. One day of the week used to be reserved for Tambola. It was compulsory for all local Army officers to be members of the Club and pay the subscriptions. There was another time when Army officers were not welcome in the same premises, but that is another story. (to be continued)
Editor’s Note: It is notified with a heavy heart that the final part (Part V) of this series of articles about Rawalpindi now can not be completed because of sudden death of Maj Agha Amir Ahsan on 28 Nov 2012.
More Articles by Maj Agha
Rawalpindi, a City of Dreams and Demons (Part I)
Rawalpindi, a City of Dreams and Demons (Part II)
Rawalpindi, a City of Dreams and Demons (Part III)
Letter to a Chilean Friend
The Chocolate Fairy