Col (Retd) Tariq Masood

In my older golden times in Rawalpindi, during late 1950s and early 1960s, there were two different cultures which were far apart from each other. There was an English medium school culture, if I remember correctly, there were only three schools where the elite of the city used to be educated. These were; St. Mary’s School on Murree Road, Denny’s High School near Mareer Chowk. One girls school, Presentation Convent, in cantonment in Lal Kurti, close to CMH Rawalpindi.

There were other ‘Taat’ schools, like Muslim High School Saidpur Road near Asghar Mall Chowk having two branches; one near Kali Tanki and one in Bunni area.

There were other big schools like Islamia High School having a few branches in different parts of the city. Mission High School near Raja Bazar, Faiz-ul-Islam High School near Moti Bazar, Simla High School in Namak Mandi and Allama Iqbal Primary School near Mohallah Shah Chan Chiragh, which happened to be my ‘Katchi’ and ‘Pukki’ class school.

The two cultures were vividly so different, which could be observed very clearly and so were the two social societies miles away from each other. Apart from many other factors the most prominent was the uniform.

There were elegant uniforms with Blazer cloth coats, pants and ties in English medium schools, while the ‘Taat’ schools had dress as pyjamas not even shalwar. The pyjamas which rich people used to wear as sleeping suits.These were with the different colour of lines known as ‘dhari-daar pajama’. The little better middle class families would give militia shalwar-qameez to their children.

We were in Matric (10th Class) when one of our class fellows whose brother had gone to England, sent a pant for him. His name was Sultan Ahmed and he used to live near Petrol Pump Chwok (This Chowk is near General Hospital on Murree Road immediately towards the Saddar direction, from where a Road leads towards Chaklala Air Base).

Shomi-e-qismat (Unfortunately), one day Sultan came to the school wearing the pant and proudly told everybody, “Aye pant bhai nay England toun behji aye.”

He wore the same pant every day, being the only one in Muslim High School (Saidpur Road) who wore a trouser. The whole class was fed up of listening to the same story that how the pant was sent by his brother from England. Finally to keep him shut, I gave him the nickname of “Bhai Dee Pant”. That nickname, stayed with  him for the whole life.

Later on “Bhai Dee Pant” also went to England for higher studies. He became one of the top scientists in UK and got the national level recognition. He has permanently settled in England. If “Bhai Dee Pant” (Sultan Ahmed Class of 1965) reads this article, he should try to reach us.

The class of 1965 was of about 350 students from all walks of life. The class made a commendable contribution in the development of the Nation. (Col Tariq Masood is from a Punjab Regt. He is also a Homeopathic doctor. He has settled in USA since 2001.)

Maj Siraj Syed

In 1965, Down Town Pindi Saddar had a different look. There were some old spots which were constantly visited by the young Army Officers. First spot was the Super’s Ice Cream cafe run by the famous bald man Mukthar on Bank Road. Second was the famous Karim Samosa Wala where you could eat the best potato samosas and pink tea (opposite Standard Bank, now Habib Bank Ltd).

In the 60s, Saddar was a neat and clean place where you could find VIPs in the evening without any security and protocol. During week-days before sunset you could find the most immaculately dressed gentleman with a felt hat matching his suit standing in front of London Book Company (Now replaced by Unique Bakers) at the intersection of Kashmir Road and Bank Road, admiring all the beautiful girls.

He was the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. I have many times seen Mr. ZAB standing outside the book shop near the railing puffing in a cigarette.

He always stood with one leg on the ground and the other on the curved railing. . Now in 2013, after exactly 48 years, I visit my Physical Therapist regularly in a hospital in the USA, she makes me stand on one leg. After a minute I get tired and she makes me change to the other leg.

This exercise tires me out completely in ten minutes. Surprisingly M.r ZAB stood for hours together on one leg. I always remember Mr. ZAB when I am made to stand on one leg by my Physical Therapist.

Peak hours for admiring beautiful girls was one hour before sunset to two hours after sunset. The younger unmarried Army officers would come across their seniors many times and they normally tried to avoid them.

The younger lot visited Saddar Pindi for fun whereas the seniors visited to find their life partners.

After this we would all go to the Pindi Club to socialize and thrice a week Tombola was played there. The younger lot created so much noise that the Anglo-Indian man who conducted Tombola would announce, “If you can’t behave like officers, then behave like gentlemen”.

Immediately after Tombola, the tables and chairs were moved to the sides and ball room dancing started off. At 12 in the night the club would close and we headed back home.

On Sundays the same beautiful Down Town (Saddar) was full with booksellers selling old books and rehri walas (Carts) selling different items like clothes or food.

Odeon Cinema and Plaza Cinema ran English movies. These two cinema houses were in one big yard opposite where Askari Bank/AWT Plaza is now located on the Mall.

During those days the Down Town (Saddar) was immaculately clean and the Station Commander was the overall in charge. Col Mustafa was the in charge for many years.

Pindi, I miss you a lot.

(Major Siraj Syed is from Artillery/Aviation. He has settled in USA since 1978. )