In one of my earlier columns titled Melas to Traffic Sergeants, I briefly touched upon one of Lahores much awaited public events - the industrial exhibition - held annually at Minto Park, on the spot where the Minar-i-Pakistan now stands. This weeks column is dedicated to the fond memories of this mela, which formed one of the much anticipated recreational and cultural activities of the city. The centrepiece of the exhibition was the big tent, which housed the circus, complete with clowns, lions, horses, acrobats and jugglers. What, however, made every show a 'packed house attraction was the trapeze act, performed by a family of high-flying artists that included a young woman, who was perhaps the focal point of mass infatuation. I am told that this family was Eurasian by descent and their death defying skills had been practiced by many generations before them. The circus tent had other companions next to it. One of these was the travelling theatre with its sideshows and gaudy cloth posters. Though I did go to one such theatre much later in life, this particular place was completely taboo to us at the time. The tent, therefore, carried an aura of mystery and we imagined it to be full of fearful monsters and what not. The theatre was flanked by a high circular well like wooden structure with vertical wall and a sidewalk at the top, where spectators could stand and look at what was happening inside. This was the maut ka koan or the 'Well of Death, where a pair of dare devil motorcycle riders entertained a gaping crowd by gaining speed and then going round and round on the vertical wall-face, held up by skill and centrifugal forces. For the more adventurous and less timid, there were Ferris Wheels and a ride where one could sit in tin airplanes suspended by steel ropes attached to a central structure, which spun them round and round. The females of the families visiting the exhibition made a beeline for the industrial displays, where they found a treasure trove of stuff they could buy at discounted prices. These items included textiles, clothes, cutlery, crockery and a wide variety of other household items. There were craftsmen stalls that demonstrated how their products were made, complete with things like potters wheels and looms. It was, however, the bangle makers, who stole the show. One bangle maker wielded a long pole like contraption with semi-solid molten coloured glass wrapped around at one end that would be periodically inserted into a small earthen furnace to keep it in that state. A strand of this glass would then be pulled from the end of the pole and cut into the required length. Another individual would shape this strand into a bangle using a rotating cone like turn table. Children often walked away from this stall happily carrying free gifts of coloured glass strands shaped as tiny walking sticks. Droves of spectators were attracted by the display of technology that we had only heard of in stories at the time. It was during one such exhibition that the visitors saw a television for the first time. Then there was Mr Robot, a metal figure that moved its arms, had glowing eyes and could talk. It was awesome to hear the 'machine man answer questions and do simple oral calculations. Later as we grew up, we realised that all this was designed to entertain and that the whole contraption was a tin dummy with cleverly fitted motors, a microphone and speakers, backed up by a hidden somebody, whose job it was, to answer questions from the crowd. There was one large stall that never failed to excite both young and old. This was the North Western Railway (now the Pakistan Railway) display with its railway system model. Created on top of a huge table like structure, the scaled model showed a landscape with hills, tunnels, forests, rivers and bridges. A track snaked its way through these features, complete with small stations and signals that worked. The scene was completed by miniature trains that ran and puffed along on the line, to the great delight of all present. Last but not least, there were the food stalls with their tantalising displays of katlammas, peethi ke ladoo and a variety of spicy chaats along with hot and steamy haleem, tikkas and seekh kebabs. At some point in time this great exhibition was shifted to Shahdara, across the River Ravi, and gradually lost its appeal to the public. Even today, small melas continue to be organised by the administration, but none generate the excitement and awe that this great show in Minto Park provided to the residents of the City of Lahore. The writer is a freelance columnist.