“The Battle of the Bald” in Super’s Restaurant, Rawalpindi

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. 

Image of intersection of Bank Road and Kashmir Road, Rawalpindi Saddar

If this cyclist (on Kashmir Road) turns left towards Bank Road, he will reach Super’s.

Pic of Maj Siraj SyedI 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 wordGunja, 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.

Related Articles:
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi 
Photos of Rawalpindi 
Universities in Islamabad/Rawalpindi
Nostalgic Memories of Rawalpindi

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  1. Maj Gen (R) Syed Ali Hamid says:

    Come to think of it, in the 1950s-60s, Pindi was a ‘Two Bit’ Town with 2 bookshops, 1 bakery, 3 cafes, 2 Chinese restaurants, 1 1/2 hotels, 3 Clubs, 3 Cinemas, one cricket ground, 3 swimming pools, 1 large park, and not much else for entertainment; but it was our world and a source of small but fulfilling pleasures.
    When I passed my Senior Cambridge in 1965, my father gave me Rs 50. I had saved Rs 30. from my Eidi and with Rs 80, in my pocket, I and my friend Ejaz ul Haq (Cuckoo………later flew for PIA and Emirates), went to paint the town red on his Baby Laverta Scooter. Filled gas in his scooter, had ice cream at Super’s, visited London Book, saw two cinema shows and in between had a Chinese dinner for Rs 18. but much though we tried, we could not spend all the money in one evening. Those were the days…………..

  2. Sir,
    Excellent article full of meticulous detail. Stories about Super’s Cafe and Mr. Mukhtar are so hilarious, that I am in stitches. I was part of this drama in Super’s on numerous occasions. Referring to Anjum Dar’s comments, thanks for giving me the background about famous Thullah character in Gordon College between 1967 to 1969 when I was there doing my FSc. I find the comments so nostalgic that I am going to share the article on Gordon College’s group site so that all young Gordonians can enjoy reading, if they haven’t done so.

  3. Faisal Tirmizi, USA says:

    Maj Siraj, I was in stitches. An extremely humorous piece. You must contribute more.

    I never took this liberty with Mukhtar sahib but many of older cousins did. I was wondering if Lt Gen Kamal Akbar is Lt Gen XYZ?

    Editor’s Note: Faisal is son of an Aviator, Brig Tirmizi.

    • No. Lt Gen (R) Kamal Akbar (Eye Specialist) is not “Lt Gen XYZ” mentioned in this article.

      • Maj (R) Siraj Syed, USA says:

        I know Lt Gen Kamal Akbar extremely well. He just probably missed being Surgeon General of Pakistan Army. He is a great person and if ever you meet him personally, you will like him. He was very closely related to Major General Farhat Burki of Aviation Engineering who was also a pilot who flew L-19 and helicopters. Great man!!

        • Dear Maj Siraj,
          Lt Gen Kamal Akbar was the Surgeon General of Pakistan Army and he retired in Feb 1999 as Surgeon General.

        • Anjum Dar says:

          Traditions roll on…such a hilarious description of Mr. Mukhtar’s daily performance…exactly the same was almost infrequently executed by us…and the climax was not that listening to Mukhtar saheb’s colorful elaborations but the climax was that “his ducking under the counter” immediately after receiving one of our friends call…and we used to take turns…now you call and I occupy the seat near him and now I go and you enjoy his technicolor company !
          What a memories…but you know what, probably, I was the most unfortunate to be avenged and become a “Gunja Kookurr” later as after effects of this naughty exercise!

  4. Abbas Hayat says:

    I also rang up ‘Mr. Bald’ to listen to his abuses.

  5. Dear Col Tariq Masud,
    Your comments of 15 Nov about life in good old Gordon College are so exquisite that I am reading them again. Sir, you are right about Miss Jane. When I was in Gordon College in 1969, their relationship was fully flourishing, it was the talk of the town. When she used to teach inside the college, a male member of the staff, and sometimes even the Principal Mr Victor Mull, used to accompany her to control the class during her English lecture on Romeo and Juliet. Looking through my old papers, I found my Quantum Club, Gordon College 1968-1969 Physics Society card with R S Sohail’s name. He was Hon President of the Quantum Club. Christy Munir wad the Physics Prof.
    Those days were so nice, on Saturdays and Sundays we used to go to matinees shows in Odeon and Plaza cinemas in Saddar and often when we used to be in the queue for tickets Mr. Munir used to ask us to get one for him as well as he did not like to stand in a queue.
    I can remember Chemical Association. Professor Niel R Kemp use to administer that. I was a student member. The annual membership was one Rupee. I am uploading Quantum club and Chemistry Association cards on Facebook to share.
    In Zoology class we opened the sack full of frogs which happened to be left at the back of the class, the frogs were brought for dissecting. Oh God! there was such a pendominium and chaos with girls screaming and boys trying to catch the jumping frogs (if I am not wrong thezoological name of frog is Ranategrinna). The Botany Lecturer was awful and We used to get fed up with the pronunciation of Botanical plant classification by Botany Lecturer, Sir Iqbal. We used to imitate him in the Tuck Shop, he used to wear thick black glasses.
    Good old memories I wish I could do FSc again. Parvez Ahmad was president Chemical Association.

    I think I have written enough for the day. ALLAH HAFIZ all.

  6. A hilarious writeup! Jazakallah khair.

  7. I enjoy this article so much that I am reading it again. Refering to comment by Col (R) Tariq Masood, I would like to add that I was also in Gordon College from 1967 to 1969 when I completed my FSc Pre medical. In those days Victor Mull was the principal. I can remember Miss Jane (English Lecturer) Mr. Iqbal (Botany lecturer), Mr. Inayat Ullah (Chemistry) and Prof Masud (Maths).
    Tariq Sahib, I am trying to place you. My class mates were Jaidi Javed who joined army in 1969, Abbas who I think now is teaching German in a University in Islamabad, Musheer Hussain who is an ENT consultant in Uk. I still meet Musheer. Jaidi, Abbas, Musheer, we all used to enjoy movies in Odeon, Cirose and Plaza cinemas in Saddar. Once we went on bikes all the way to Murree. I remember a chap nickname Tullah in Gordon College who used to cause a chaos in Ladies Garden. Then those fights in the Tuck Shop. Those somosas used to be so tasty. I remember Gordon College so much although it was Sep 1969 when I completed my FSc but it seems I am there today roaming around. If any body from that class of 1969 reads these comments, please be in touch. My email address is: sajidbaig2@gmail.com

    • Brother Sajid,

      You were an year younger to our batch in Gordon College. We did Intermediate in 1968, and later I joined Govt College Asghar Mall Rawalpindi, before joining the 44 Long Course in May 1969. It was the same teaching Staff who was with our class. Miss Janes, Professor Inayat, a handsome, golden hair, fair looking tall and slim young man. Christy Munir, was Physics teacher and Mati Ullah, a round face with round prescription glasses. Khawaja Masood was also one of the professors. There was one Mr Masood from Iran who was an English teacher. There was one old man who was Lab in charge. He was very kind to the girls specially and used to put his hands on girls’ shoulders and teach them practical.

      In winters on sunny days, Miss Janes was always forced by the students to have the class outside on the grassy green plot around the Main Hall. The young lady was also dressed in skirt and nobody minded it. The rumour mongers spread the news that there is an affair going on between Inayat and Miss Janes, tairay mairay payar kay churchay her zabban per…….

      The Cafe behind the college was known as Zamzama Cafe, where one could listen to any farmaishi song in chaar annas sikka raij-ul-waqt.

      So sweet were the memories!!! I will write more interesting articles about life in college in near future.

      Be blessed.

      • Anjum Dar says:

        Dear Col Tariq,
        That Ol’man was Nana Jan…and the girls liked his hands on their shoulders…isn’t it?
        Miss Jane was too young to teach us lol…His brother was a very good singer for Mohammed Rafi’s songs and was a professional in Flashman’s evenings…We formed Rawalpindi Music Association under patronage of Prof. C. A. Peter, I was vice president of Association and Miss Jane was our advisor…then on our request he once brought his band to our college for a memorable performance…I still remember one of the songs, “Yeh maira prem patr purrh ker kaheen naaraz na hoana” so wonderfully delivered by him…Oh God…sweet memories…truly !

    • Anjum Dar says:

      Dear Sajid,
      Tullah was Thulla and his name was Khalid Rasool, the brother of Nasreen Rasool (she was M.A. Urdu student), a distinguished Urdu debator. From Gordon College during 1966-1968, I used to be the main speaker for All Pakistan Debates competitions, accompanied by Mr. Waheed Mirza, Mr. Asad Manzoor Hashmi or Mr. Bilal Ahmed. As a girl debator, Nasreen Rasool accompanied me only for other city, since we had strong family relations like a brother & sister.

  8. I live in Birmingham UK since 1969. I was born in Pindi. From KG 1 to 5th class I was in viqarun Nisa School. My School bus was blue coloured and used to pick me up from B-709 Satellite Town, then it used to pick up other children from Faizabad, Raja Bazar, Banni and take us all to school. I remember gajrela and mithai shops in Banni area. In Satellite Town our treat was jalebis in a big bowl of milk with malai on top.

    I was a student in Central Government Model School 37-C Satellite Town from 1962 to 1967 when I completed my Matriculation. From 1967 to 1969 I was in Gordon College and I remember Ladies Garden there and our tuck shop where every day there was some sort of trouble. I remember Supers and Mr Mukhtar. At the back of Gordon College there was a cafe favorite haunt of students. We used to go there, get a cup of tea and one samosa for 1 rupee. They used to play 70 rpm records tavas there we used to try to spend maximum time there and made sure we don’t have to buy another tea. The waiter used to come and say “Sahib jee, aik aur cup laon?” We initially avoided it but in the end bought another cup of tea to enjoy the music. I had such a lovely time….. sweet memories.

  9. Iram Iqbal says:

    It is an absolute Delight to read the comments. You all have such beautiful memories and I feel the happiness and fun that comes with these memories! I hope there is a reunion for you all InshAllah.
    A devotee of Pakistan.

  10. Looks like the story of Mukhtar has been passed down the aviation ladder. It must have been a senior like Maj Siraj Syed who took me to Super Cafe and introduced this game to me at the cost of receiving heavy abuses in Punjabi by Mukhtar. I remember it like yesterday.

  11. Lt Gen (R) M. Kamal Akbar says:

    Dear Siraj,
    I think you are “Partner” Siraj. You and your brother Shams SJ, B-57 pilot used to come to MH MI Room often and once you both got a DSP in trouble with Sta Comd Col. Mustafa. You also once took me up in an L-19 over Dhamial, trying to impress me with its low stalling speed of 25 mph but that day it was stalling at 30 mph. Is my memory correct?

    I have got a printout of your article and I am sure Mukhtar would be proud to read it. His new restaurant is about 100 meters down towards Murree Road, but deals in roast chickens and not ice cream, which I think was the tastiest I have ever eaten.
    Mukhtar now lives on Saif Ullah Lodhi Road (near Denny’s School) opposite my old house.

    Good to know you are well. Do let me know about your family too. Regards.

    Lt Gen (R) M.K.Akbar (Ex Eye Specialist, a tennis player)

    • Maj Siraj Syed (USA) says:

      Dear Gen Kamal Akbar,
      I remember you so well and my last visit with you was when you were a General in Eye Department at MH, Rawalpindi. I had some wonderful friends from the AMC; starting with you, then Gen Mahmood Akhtar, Gen Mohsin Pal, Gen Badruddin, Maj Rashid from Cantonment General Hospital, Gen Zaheer, Gen I.M. Shah, Gen Zulfiqar. Also some civilian doctors; Dr. Israr (Eye Specialist), Dr. Khalid Cheema, etc, etc.
      It was not a DSP we put in trouble, but he was the SSP (or DIG Police?) Rao Rashid who was tackled by Station Comd, Col Mustafa. It was a great showdown and Rao Rashid apologized to Col Mustafa. In those days the Station Comd was considered the overall in charge of the Cantt Area. Later, I met Rao Raashid when he was married to a good friend of mine, Nasreen, who became an MNA and later shifted to New York and started a Deli (Bakery) with Sanam Bhutto, the sister of Benazir Bhutto.
      When are you going to visit USA? I live in a beautiful town of Colorado. I was in contact with Dafne few years ago and she talked a lot about you and your friendly nature. If you visit USA, come and stay with me and bring back some nice cooking tips. Become a shahgird (Student) of Mr. Mukhtar.
      Best wishes to you and your family, Khuda Hafiz.

      • Lt Gen M.K.Akbar says:

        Dear Partner,
        I just got an email from Col.Cheema.He mentioned that u had not recd my email.Thanx for urs .
        Out of ur friends of AMC,M.Akhtar is fine and doing private practice 200 yds from Army graveyard.Mohsin Pal died about a decade ago,Badar about 2 years ago,,Maj.Rashid about 20? yrs ago,Gen.Zulfiqar had a big brain infarct(scar) following angiography and lives with one of his 2 wives at a farmhouse in Islamabad.His mental faculties are badly damaged..Brig.Izzat Mukhtar Shah is at Lahore,presumably playing bridge.Col.Mustafa,died many yrs ago.His wife was sister of Bhutto..Rao Rashid used to play a bit of tennis and my opinion was that he did not behave like a thoroughbred policewala,but had a gentlemanly touch.
        Ganja was very excited and happy to see ur article.He requested me to let him photocopy it and said he wud show it to his son who is a Lt.Col. in CMI(Intell) and was due to retire in 3 months.He happily ordered his staff to get me a soft drink and even offered his special chicken tikka.His present shop is Shalimar chicken tikka shop,about 150 yds from Supers towards Murree rd.
        This morning I met Brig.Hashim(19 L) and son of late Gen.Shuaib,psychiatrist.He was also one like u all.He said that all nearby shopkeepers knew that ur friends were calling Ganja by their phones..He used to fly Cobra gunships.
        Where is Shams?When I was at Mauripur (66-69),he was in 7 or 8 sqn(B-57s)And Mehr Imam,ur sister,I think?
        My problem is paperwork for applying for a visa.Some day I might complete it.I have some good friends in USA who keep asking me over.If I do come near Colorado,maybe I might pop in.
        I am living in Army Offrs Housing Colony,opp COAS house,next to Murree Brewery.It is a pity I dont drink,otherwise an underground pipeline wud have been great.Gen.Zaheer lives in our colony.
        I am still keeping my 1962 Vespa which u may have ridden,though few opportunities occur to drive it.Anyway,it revives old memories.
        I met D in 92 when I visited USA.She is now in California.
        I recall u took me up in an L-19 over Dhamial and tried to demonstrate it stalling at 25 mph but that day it was stalling at 30 mph.
        Brig.Mokeet and Brig. Masud are in Chaklala 3 and Col.Aslam(Flt Safety qualified) is at Tulsa rd(Lalazar) which leads to Dhamial.
        Recently I saw Brig.Karim(ex CO 1 sqn) at eye dept.He still flies Hot Air balloons and is its president..I remember that every Monday morning 1 sqn pilots wud storm Staff Surgeon MH to get SIQ because Karim wud make them parade.2 sqn CO used to be goody goody,so few SIQs.
        Please let me know about what area of Pindi or which person u want news and I will try to send it.

        • Zia Sharif says:

          Dear Maj Siraj,
          Its a strange co-incidence that I came around this Blog. What a wonderful surprise. It will be nice to get in touch now, as all my attempts to get in touch here and in USA were futile.

          Hope you reply giving all family details and Nasreen joins me in wishing you and dear Becky our love and best wishes.

          Zia (presently in Rawalpindi)

  12. Ali Khan says:

    Mukhtar still going strong. He has a restaurant on Bank Road. Makes great chicken Karahi. His son is a Colonel in the Army.

  13. I takes me back to my college days. In 1967-68, we used to go once a week from Gordon College to Super Cafe. Even after joining the Army, this practice continued. Girls from Gordon College also used to go and have fun. Mukhtar was young at that time. Forgive us Mukhtar Chacha, you gave us amusement and enjoyment. Once a firing incident happened in Super Cafe. One of our class fellows Nickname ‘Marchoo’ opened fire on a boy, but he survived. What a time!!
    ‘Koi lota dey mere beetay hoi din….’

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