Rawalpindi, My Birthplace

By Maj Amjid Kamal Quamber, Retd (2nd SSC)

Amjid Quamber , Maj

Amjid Quamber

Various articles about Pindi written by my friends have also compelled me to write something about the city where I was born.

It was a humid day on 30 Aug 1953 when I was born in CMH Rawalpindi. There is only one Labour Room at 1st floor of Officers’ Family Ward and one can even today see its frosted glass if you drive from Lalkurti to GHQ Gate No. 7. (If you wonder why its on the 1st floor, here is why…each child has to be shown the GHQ Gate No. 7, so that he can enter his name for PMA without too much searching about later in life).

After a few days, I was driven back by my father in a Baby Austin to our house on Tulsa Road, Lalazar. Then my father was a Major in EME Dte, GHQ. We have lived in many houses in Pindi during my father’s service. PAF Base was one, then on Cannaught Road (Now in Chaklala Garrison) and 99-Jhelum Road (Opposite the District Courts mosque.) There was a track going from Chaklala to Ayub Park with a pipe line across Leh Nullah (Pipe line is still there behind the Askari flats) and one could cross over to Murree Brewery where a bucket of beer was boot legged for Rs 2 in the good old days (1964 to be exact).

Saint Mary's Academy, Tulsa Road, Lalazar, Rawalpindi, old photo

Saint Mary’s Academy

I am still living on Tulsa Road but now am thinking of shifting to some quieter place because a number of schools have come up on this road causing frequent traffic jams during school opening/closing timings. I am living near Saint Mary’s School but back in 1953 Saint Mary’s School didn’t exist and it was a dead zone as there were Small Arms Ranges located where now Askari VII Housing Scheme stands. This dead area was used by the Army Veterinary Hospital to dispose off  cast horses and mules. Later, the land was allotted to Saint Mary’s School by Gen Ayub Khan and the missionary school was built on that stretch of land in 1962.

What everyone has forgotten is the only disco in town. It was in the Intercontinental Hotel (Now PC). This was the only place in town for the interest of younger people in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

I also studied at three different schools: Saint Mary’s School Chaklala (Now called PAF School), then Saint Mary’s School, Lalazar, and finally the last but not the least, Faiz-ul-Islam School, Faizabad. I joined Gordon College where we had two miserable girls in our class. During college days, we enjoyed all the action of the times (Less the studies).

Life has treated me well, my friends. I have enjoyed myself to the fullest and am fully prepared to meet my Master when he calls. God Bless Pakistan.

Related Articles:
Nostalgic Memories of Rawalpindi

Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi 

Photos of Rawalpindi 

Rawalpindi Memorabilia

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  1. Col Imran Raja says:

    Khan Tahir Askari umer Farooq retired as Air commodore from PAF, he was my brother class fellow Raja Tahir .

  2. Ibney Abbas Jafry says:

    It is with great happiness and joy to have read the memories of ‘my school’ St. Marie’s chaklala. I studied in St Marie’s from 1956 to 1958. The principal at that time was Father Mallet ( a wonderful and great headmaster ) and Father Dolans, the other teachers I remember we Mr. Rahat and Mr. nasir they were history and geography teachers. We lived in Mall Hostel opposite Ciros cinema and remember the hot raisen buns from silver grill. Still remember Massey gate in Saddar and was taken down around 1957, there used to be Crown Bakery in Saddar and Hathi chawk. Father Mallet was a great character builder and insisted on confidence and self esteem which was the corner stone of that great school. Some of the students at that time I remember were Tahir Ayub, khushnood, Imtiaz, has be such long time. Still carry my sweet memories of that time and would love to hear from students at that time.
    I am in Canada since 1975 after working in Habib Bank in Pakiistan, never had the chance to meet my School mates from St. Marie’s.
    Thanks for a starting this forum.
    Ibney Abbas Jafry

  3. Kh Tariq Askari says:

    Glade to hear about old Pindi specially St Mary’s in Chaklal. After 9th class from Cantt Public School, Saddar Rawalpindi got admitted there in 1963. I passed my Matric then got admission in Godon Collage. Birg. Shoukat Qadir and I were both in Cantt Public and then St. Mary’s . Umar Farooq was also our classmate, he joined Airforce , but do not have any contact as from 45 years am are out of Pakistan. Stay blessed.

  4. Maj (R) Amjid Quamber says:

    Yes, indeed I saw the old Merc many times. It had number FFP 1. Belonged to the owner of ‘Frontier Garage’. That was next to Silver Grill Restaurant on The Mall. The owner’s daughter was my friend. And her old man had this car. Later on her elder sister took it away to the States.

    By the way I still drive my father’s 1956 Merc. Yes, it runs well on its original engine. The factory in Germany has been very kind and has always sent me the required spares which are few and far between.

    I have been married in that car and have asked my daughters to transport me to the graveyard in it when I die. Not much of a ride from here (Tulsa Road, Lalazar) to Army Grave Yard.

    Yes, Bilgrami was cod. And lived next to our house. Every night at 8, Summer and winter, he would hang a board outside the gate which said ‘Shaba khair’.

    • Shahid Ahmad says:

      Thank you for your response. Did the old Mercedes leave Pindi in 1970? I think I saw it being loaded onto a truck near Silver Grill. It was a pale yellowish car with wooden wheels, would you please confirm and would it be possible if you have any pictures of it? InshaAllah your Mercedes will also give you years of carefree running and InshaAllah it will be a long long time before she ( Mercedes) transports you to your final journey!

      • Amjid Quamber says:

        I indeed saw the old merc many times. Later it was exported to the USA. One of the owners was Miss Riffat Haq. I queried her on the cars whereabouts.
        Her elder sister was the one to take it to the States and has since sold it. Pakistan’s loss I am sure.
        It was in pristine condition and was lovingly cared for by Mr. Haq, the owner.

  5. Shahid Ahmad says:

    Major Amjid Sahib,

    I am very much interested in the story of the 1936 Mercedes you mentioned in another comment. Did you actually ever see the car?
    Any other details that you have about that car will be very helpful.

    I too was in St Mary’s from 1970 to 1973, so passed your house everyday on my bicycle.

    I remember Ayaz Babar, he had a younger brother too.

    Would also love to see some photographs of your 1956 Mercedes too.

    Was Brig Bilgrami living next to your house around 1971 or so? He was my friend’s father.

    I shall be looking forward to your response.

    Best regards

  6. Amjid Kamal Quamber says:

    I would love to know where you were living and where you studied and in which years ! Then I am certain I would be able to tell you much more of friends in common. Me – Station School and St Mary’s- then Gordon College, all the way from 1959 to 71.

    • Farooq Ahmed Bhatti says:

      Dear Maj Quambar,
      I was a student in Gordon college from 1968-1970, in arts group.
      Used to live behind Station School RA Bazzar, if you remember the triangular Park before Jamia Masjid RA Bazzar, there is a lane for residential units, leading to MP Ground. I lived there for 18 years, in 1982 we started our new house at Tulsa Road Lalazar and shifted there. I got my graduation from NCA Lahore in Architecture and now working as Project Manager Architecture in a multi National Company in Saudi Arabia.
      My younger brother used to study in Station School # 1. His name is Abdul Qudus, later he studied in Cantt Public Secondary School near Capital Cinema.
      My father Abdul Aziz Bhatti (Late), who was in Grindlay’s Bank, constructed his house in Lane # 2, off Tulsa Road. I have seen your house at Tulsa Road, but believe it is unattended these days.
      Really nice to read about Pindi in old days. It is nice to share memories of the past and especially of Rawalpindi.

  7. Ayaz Babar says:

    Major Amjid, thank you for the great memories of Rawalpindi. I went to St Mary’s, Lalazar and really was grateful for the good education provided by them. The 502 Workshop used to service Army tanks and we used to watch them kick up clouds of dust and dirt from classes. Major Tim was my Math teacher and Father Burns was the principal of the school. I remember going to his funeral when I left Sir Syed College and almost all of “Whose Who” of Pindi attended to pay their respect at the big Catholic Church in Lalkurti.
    Please let me know what Lalazar and Tulsa Road is like now as I have been away from Rawalpindi for 35 years.

    • Maj (R) Amjid Kamal Quamber says:

      Dear Sir,
      I joined St. Mary’s Lalazar branch, coming from St. Mary’s Chaklala when it was taken over by the PAF. Yes, Tims was the Maths man and Burns/ May (both Late) and Tess (who is still alive and I see her often) were very much the school life. Tims was a good man, from the Artillery and used to treat every one as a recruit.

      If you studied at any time in St. Mary’s, then you passed my house every day. It’s right opposite the Gate of St. Mary’s on the main Tulsa Road and everyone used to drop by for a cold glass of water in summers, and were always welcome by both my parents. We still drive a grey Mercedes-Benz, an 1956 car which was well known to most Marians. My elder brother Maj Naveed Quamber did his Senior Cambridge and I did my Metric from St. Mary’s.

      Nice to know you!

      • Muhammad Shahin says:

        Maj Quamber,
        I had the honor of traveling with your father way back in 1977, perhaps. He narrated so many informative incidences about the corruptness of the then Government.
        We both (you and me) attended some Course in School of Armor, Nowshera. I didn’t know that you too studied in Saint Mary’s. Now a days I am also attempting to write a few words about Rawalpindi which is my birth place also. Regards.

  8. Ferdaus Al Amin says:

    Rawalpindi is also my birth city.

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