By Brig Muhammad Akram Malik (2nd SSC)
A friend in his article “Nostalgic Memories of Rawalpindi “ wrote in detail about old Pindi. It has prompted me to write something too about this city. My friend got acquainted with Pindi intimately when he arrived at Aviation School in 1975 but I know Pindi a little more than him because I had my schooling there.
Yes, Pindi was once a sleepy but very pleasant town. I remember mashkees (Watermen) spraying water on the streets during summer evenings to make the evenings cool and dust free. Yes, Saddar and Mall Road were the places for gentries to have evening walks as all these roads had lines of trees on their shoulders and quiet walk ways. The environment was so clean that Shezan (Opposite GPO) had a front lawn for people to have outdoor tea. It was not unusual for Anglo-Indian ladies with skirts to roam on the streets of Saddar and Lalkurti without posing any threat to our Islam. I wonder where have they all gone?
We were never allowed to take our bicycles on the roads after sunset if our bikes did not have the dynamo light and tail reflector. At sunset all tonga walas would stop to set their lamps alight and always used bags under tails of their horses to ensure road cleanliness. Can children of today imagine all this? In those days Liaquat Baagh was really a baagh. I remember playing hockey during my school days as it was close to our school. It had beautiful green lawns and sports grounds. Places like Odeon, Plaza and Cerose cinemas were the places to go. Harley Street, Westridge and Satellite Town were posh suburbs on the fringes of Pindi. Murree Road from Flashman’s Hotel to Faizabad Chowk was wide, lined with thick trees. Near Satellite Town, it had big houses with wide lawns. Cycling along this road on holidays was adventurous and enjoyable. Baagh Sardaran next to Raja Bazar was really a baagh with mango trees.
Haathi Chowk had an elephant statue and Massey Gate had a gate. Ask Pindi walas if any one remembers the location of this Massey Gate? It was about one hundred yards from Haathi Chowk towards Saddar where there are even now some auto shops. Double decker buses, Pindi Hazara bus service, GTS bus station in Saddar and tonga stands with excellent overhead shades and drinking water channels for horses are now history.
Coming back to my friend’s article. He asked the name of that poor bald-headed owner of Super Cafe, located on Bank Road. Everybody made fun of him. His name was Mukhtar. How can anyone living in those days forget his name and the pranks the youngsters had with him?
Pindi Club was an evening RV for all young and not so old officers to meet……………???
On Bank Road young Romeos were seen strolling in search of their Juliets.
Well, those were real good old days.
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