By Col Ajmal Mahmood (30 Long Course)
An article (Nostalgic Memories of Rawalpindi) in a website, Native Pakistan, reminded me of my love for this city. My house is in Rawalpindi since 1952. Being in the Army, I served in Rawalpindi from Oct 64 to Sep 65 and then went to war with India. Pindi used to be such a lovely place. On Bank Road a car would pass after 2-3 minutes. Now you can’t cross the road because of rush of Suzukis and other vehicles.
Yes, many young ones used to phone the “ganja” of Super Cafe and place order for the next day. He would take all that seriously. Then in the end when the caller would shout “Oye! ganjey“, having heard his abuses, at times sitting late at night in Super’s, we would know that someone had teased him on phone by a fake booking. I know at times some nurses of CMH also used to tease him by fake booking. I also know that this “ganja” had made small holes in the cabin walls. Whenever a boy with his girlfriend would sit in a secluded cabin with curtains drawn, the waiter will go to the “ganja” owner of the Cafe and tell him, “Now you can see them”. On getting this clearance, “ganja” would go upstairs and sit in the adjacent vacant cabin and peep through the hole.
I lived in Lalkurti from 1956 to 1962, before joining the Army in 1962. We 3-4 friends used to walk daily from Lalkurti to Saddar and then keep walking on Bank Road and Kashmir Road for 2-3 hours. Our daily walk was almost 10-12 miles and then in the end we would sit in Ciros Cafe, in front of Bata shop and have half teapot (4 annas) or full teapot (8 annas). Our favourite waiter was Ibrahim.
We would only see very good movies in Ciros, Plaza or Odeon cinemas. Some of the good movies I saw during that time were; “I Want to Live” (Starring Sophia Loren) , “Ben Hur “, “Cleopatra”, “Blue Angels” (Starring B.B.; Brigitte Bardot), “Genghis Khan” and “Gone with the Wind”.
London Book Company was a favourite shop to visit for good books. Tongas used to charge 2 annas to Lalkurti and 4 annas to Raja Bazar. Rupee was quite strong then. I remember $ was equal to Rs. 9. For a long time gold was Rs.120 per tola. My salary as a 2 Lt was Rs. 500 per month. So I could buy about 4 tolas of gold with that salary. Now one tola is Rs 57,000 plus. To be able to buy 4 tolas now (July 2012) my salary should be Rs. 2,28,000 plus!
There used to be a brand new white tonga parked on a side road (Probably its name is Canning Road) near Pindi Club. One could see interested parties/ persons having a “deal” with the tonga wala.
I need not repeat what other points/shops of Rawalpindi have been mentioned by other writers in this website. But I would add another place that is Kirpa Ram square lawn in which there used to be two iron benches where one would rest for a while and have a puff.
Come what may, Rawalpindi would remain in our hearts.
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