By Maj Siraj Syed, 17 Long Course (USA)
Editor’s Note: Maj Siraj Syed is from Artillery/Aviation. He has settled in USA since 1978.
I recently read Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi in this website regarding the old memories of Rawalpindi of 60s and 70s. It reminded me of my wonderful youth days spent in Pindi.
Saddar was the place where the younger lot used to roam about in the evening and enjoy. In this article, I will just dwell upon the current hot topic of above mentioned website; Super’s Restaurant and its bald owner Mukhtar. The famous Super’s was located on the Bank Road, a few shops away from London Book Company. Super’s ice cream was best in the town. It’s bald owner Mukhtar was known as “Gunja Kukkar“. The youngsters teased him a lot and in turn he abused them non-stop.
In the early 1960s, I was a Capt in Aviation and my doctor friend (XYZ) was a Major (who later retired as Lt Gen). Maj XYZ often asked me to sit in Super’s and himself went to London Book Company and used their phone to ring Mukhar. He put a handkerchief on the mic, changed his voice and said, “Oye Gunjay, kee haal aye?”
On hearing the word ‘Gunja‘, the colour of Mukhtar’s face changed to crimson, he ducked down under the counter with the phone and abused XYZ in whispers but loud enough to be heard and enjoyed by me. As per the plan, I always chose a table near the counter. XYZ was also very proficient in Punjabi invective. He hurled back some abuses which were specially invented by him for “The Battle of the Bald”.
Mukhtar again fired back his volley of abuses. XYZ responded back. This was carried on for some minutes. I give full credit to Mukhtar that he never repeated the same abuse during the entire episode. I was really impressed by his ‘vocabulary’. He could have got a PhD if the “Invective” were a subject in the curriculum of Punjab University.
After a few minutes XYZ quite innocently entered the Restaurant and waved hand to the owner and said, “Hi, Mukhtar Bhai! Kaya haal hai?” Then we placed an order for our favorite Tutti Frutty. This episode was repeated twice or thrice in a month.
The time passed, I became a Maj and XYZ was promoted as a Lt Col but he was so thrilled by “The Battle of the Bald”, rather addicted to it, that he continued this prank. In addition to London Book Company, he used to ring Mukhtar from another book store which was close by. At times he rang from Shezan Restaurant which was opposite GPO. In those days all shops allowed their customers to use the phone facility by charging some nominal amount.
We were Mukhtar’s regular customers and he used to respect us a lot. Even his “Farishtay“ didn’t know that we were ever indulged in “The Battle of the Bald” to tease him. XYZ was also detailed by Station HQ to check the quality of food in the shops located in Cantonment jurisdiction. Mukhtar used to take pride that his regular customer had come for the inspection. Mukhtar’s stuff was very hygienic and XYZ never found any fault in the quality of food stuff in Super Cafe. Moreover, he was not in a position to tease him overtly; his specialty was in the covert action.
Once I was admitted in CMH Rawalpindi and the nurse on duty told me that her fellow nurses were also ‘addicted’ to “The Battle of the Bald”. They were expert in kidding Mukhtar from their Mess telephone. They had connected a small speaker with the telephone, enabling the entire group to listen to Mukhtar’s ‘good wishes’. This prank was their favorite pass-time on Sundays. We had even found college girls ringing him from London Book Company and calling him “Gunja“. It proves that Mukhtar Bhai was equally popular among females.
Those were the days of real enjoyment without any fear of bomb blast or suicide attacks. Now, at the age of 75, when I look in the mirror, I see that I have also shed away many hair. After a few years, I may also be as bald as Mukhtar. I really feel bad about the treatment given to him by us. I hope Mukhtar, wherever he is, forgives us now. May Allah also forgive us for our innocent pranks which must be quite hurting for Mukhtar Bhai.
Editor’s Note: If you have liked this page, then please share it on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media.
If it is not inconvenient, please do write a brief comment at the end of this page under the heading “Leave a Reply here”.
Visitors of this website are welcome to contribute their nostalgic articles about Rawalpindi by sending to: firstname.lastname@example.org