CHAUBURJI The great Mall of Lahore was designed to connect the city's civil station with the Mian Mir Cantonment and stretches from the military Flag Staff House westwards to the town hall. Just short of the town hall there stand three great landmarks that are connected to the same surname - Kipling. The first of these was constructed as a temporary structure to accommodate a Crafts Exhibition and Museum in 1864. It later became the setting for the opening chapter of Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling's best selling classic 'Kim', due perhaps to the fact that John Lockwood Kipling, father of the celebrated author was its curator. In the wide-open space facing the building stood a piece of ordnance that gained an almost iconic status with reference to Lahore. This was Zamzama aka Banghion Ki Tope aka 'Kim's Gun'. This huge cannon was part of a pair cast by Shah Nazir in 1757 under orders from Shah Wali Khan, Prime Minister to the Abdali King Ahmed Shah Durrani, and was used in 1761 during the last battle of Panipat. It was later captured by Hari Singh Bhangi in 1762 in a battle with the Governor of Lahore and hence acquired the name Bhangion Ki Tope. Last used by the Sikhs against the British in the siege of Multan in 1848, the cannon was placed outside Delhi Gate. In 1860 this historic relic was moved to the garden of Wazir Khan's Mosque, till it found a place at the exhibition and museum venue in 1870. Its name Kim's Gun was derived from Kipling's book, where the young hero Kim, first spots the Lama while sitting astride its barrel. In 1894, Zamzama was relocated to its present resting place a few hundred meters up the Mall. It was also in 1894 that the museum and its artefacts were shifted to a new building constructed by the famed philanthropist and engineer cum contractor Sir Ganga Ram and the old exhibition structure was converted into a meat, fruit and vegetable market known to Lahoris as Tollington Market. This market quickly became a place where almost everybody who was somebody in Lahore did their shopping. It also attracted a large number of hunter beef fans as it provided the best tasting beef roast in the city. No visit to Tollington Market was however complete without spending time and money at the king of all ice cream parlours, the Tangiers Milk Bar. It was here that one was invariably trapped by the most exquisite and delicious ice creams and milk shakes. A few years ago, progress and a callous attitude towards all things historical, prompted a decision to tear down this historic and graceful structure. There was a great hue and cry amongst conservationists which prompted reversal of the decision from demolition to restoration. Happily, Tollington Market now stands restored with the welcome news that it will house the Lahore City Museum. Further up the Mall stands another red brick building with burjis. This is the National College of Arts, originally founded as the Mayo School of Arts in 1881 by John Lockwood Kipling, who was also its first principal. Across the road from this college and standing watch over the old University Hall, stands the dust coated figure of a distinguished looking individual wearing academic robes and carrying a book, all cast in dark metal to minute detail. This is Professor Alfred Woolner, Professor of Sanskrit and Vice Chancellor of the Punjab University between 1928 and 1936. While many Lahoris might have noticed the statue and ignored its existence, there was at least one individual who had the 'madness' in him to acknowledge in his own queer way, the long dead professor's contribution towards education. In a moving daily ritual, this person would approach the statue, stand before it for a few seconds and then reverently polish its shoes with a cloth, oblivious to the stares that were directed his way by passers-by. I am told that the 'shoe shining' ritual has not been seen for some time now, raising fears that its central figure may not be with us anymore. This leaves one wondering if the actions of this unique individual were behavioural aberration or a moving expression of gratitude towards a great teacher to whom the city of Lahore owes a tremendous debt. Our nostalgic stroll up and down the Mall must end on the note that each old structure along this great artery that cuts through the heart of Lahore has a story to tell. The question is as to how long will these 'story tellers' stand against pollution, ugly commercialisation and greed. The writer is a freelance columnist.