Chauburji A long, long time ago Lahore was not what it has now become a concrete jungle teeming with chaotic traffic and plagued by pollution. There was greenery everywhere and the roads had such quaint titles as Bansan wali sarak and Kelian wali sarak. The walled city had its narrow alleys and congested tall houses, but even these were eye-catching, with beautifully carved jharokas and wooden balconies. Some had ornamental details of animals and flowers, while others had figurines carved in finest detail above the main entrances and facades. In all, the inner city was not only an art lovers paradise, but also a great heritage and tourist attraction. Commercialisation was restricted to a few specific areas, while localities like Temple Road, Lawrence Road, Queens Road, Mozang Road, Goulding Road, Panj Mahal Road, Mason Road, Waris Road, Jail Road and Davis Road, to name a few, boasted spacious residences with well-kept drives and gardens. Some of these homes were known by their popular alternate names such as Billion wali kothi on Queens Road or Pankhay walon ki kothi on Lawrence Road. Four of the leafiest residential areas were the Mayo Gardens, the GOR, Model Town and the Cantonment. Gulberg emerged as an elite residential locality in the early sixties. Families could stroll about on these roads and children could pedal up and down on their bicycles, without fear of any sort and residents knew almost everyone, who lived in their respective localities. Evening tea was usually taken on lawns and in verandahs, where neighbours and friends got together to swap yarns. One such group consisting of Ahmed Hassan Khan (maternal grandfather of cricketer turned politician Imran Khan), Mr Chughtai (brother of the celebrated artist Abdul Rehman Chughtai), Pir Taj Din and Nawab Mamdot could be found almost daily in our house on Queens Road. Pir Taj Din used to live in the bungalow opposite to ours, but chose to come to our house in his horse-drawn buggy, while Nawab Mamdot arrived in a black car with a furled Pakistani Flag, sans protocol or escort. Ahmed Hassan Khan always carried a brown paper bag containing barfi and was extremely popular with us children, justly earning the nickname of barfi walay khan sahib. Often, family friends from the walled city came over to the house and one got a chance to meet big names like Hafeez Jullandri, the author of the Shahnama-i-Islam and the national anthem. The roaring of the African Lions in the Lahore Zoo carried far across the city as did the ringing of church bells. The first was often used to bring errant brats into line, while the other was a symbol of interfaith harmony, calling the congregation to prayer. One of these church bells always pealed in a melodious sequence that sounded like music and was very agreeable to the ear. There were days when the compounds of these bungalows rang with the sound of two voices singing in harmony. This was a pair of roving blind minstrels, who earned a living by moving from house to house singing devotional songs to the accompaniment of a sarangi. Shops would open early and served their clients without a break till late evening. While Anarkali Bazaar catered for all sections of the society, establishments on the Mall with names like Goldsmiths, Pitmans and Ranken attracted the more affluent. The leading book store on the Mall was Ferozesons, while Book Centre and Imperial Book Depot were popular amongst the younger generation and students. The Bible Society store in Anarkali was also a place where one could find good reading material on subjects other than religion. The 'His Masters Voice record shop, with the distinct logo of the terrier sitting before a vintage gramophone, was located just short of the Nila Gumbad area, in the ground floor of a building and was a rendezvous for music lovers. Public transport consisted of single and double-decker buses and tongas. The latter could ply on the Mall and the Municipal Corporation had recruited individuals, who carried long-handled metal scoops and buckets to pick up waste that the horses dropped on the roads. In all, the Lahore of yore was a green, leafy haven of architectural beauty, peace, tranquillity and tolerance, the memories of which generate nostalgia amongst those of us, who have lived through those times. It is then that a wistful sigh escapes us and we whisper, Aah Lahore The writer is a freelance columnist.