The half-burnt building in Shah Alam Market tells the story of a bank that was never meant to be
By Sarah Sikandar
From the foundation
stone to the very inch of the complete structure - every building encompasses
a journey. But some stories always remain untold like the story of Gobind Ram
and Hindustan Commercial Bank. Sixty years since the partition of India and
the building with the inscription 'Gobind Ram Kahan' and 'Hindustan Commercial
Bank Established 1805' still remains amidst the hustle bustle of vendors, gold
and crockery traders of Rang Mahal in the walled city.
Badar Munir Butt of AL-Sadiq
Jewellers was four years old in 1947. Though he faintly remembers the
partition violence he has heard stories about Gobind Ram and the building. His
shop is adjacent to the half burnt building. According to him, Gobind Ram
owned a shop at the ground floor of the present building. Trader of achaar,
chatni and sharbat, Gobind Ram's sharbat was very famous in this area.
Supposedly, one of the richest men in this area he was well-respected too.
And, with money comes influence. When he, with his family, left Lahore for
India he had put the money and jewellery in the basement of this same
building. Some years after the partition he came here with Army officials from
both India and Pakistan and took away all the jewellery and money that they
had kept safe in the basement. To the neighbours' dismay, the loads of gold
and money kept lying there all those years without them knowing about it.
According to an elderly
man who owns a shop in the basement of the building.and also one of the oldest
residents of the area, Gobind Ram's sharbat was "famous and if one bought
it for one takka, one would reach Amritsar but the sharbat wouldn't
All the gates of Lahore
survived the violence of partition except the Shah Alam Gate which was
destroyed along with other buildings in this area. From Shah Alam to Rang
Mahal, this was the sole building that survived and that only because it was a
new building. Some myths follow the existence of a trench in the basement that
goes to the Lahore Fort.
The branch of Hindustan
Commercial Bank for which the new building was made never saw the light of the
day. Established in 1805 one branch of the bank was supposed to be opened here
in Lahore and Gobind Ram was among the partners.
Majeed Sheikh, a
renowned historian, informed that The Hindustan Commercial Bank Lahore was to
be one of the five branches of the bank that was established in 1805 and whose
first branch was opened in Amritsar. The bank opened in Bengal on January 2,
1809. Two branches were to be opened in Lahore, one here in the walled city
and the other in Neela Gumbad. "After 1965 war with India the building
was declared enemy property."
During the partition the
present area of Rang Mahal, Suha Bazaar and the adjoining area was a Hindu
majority area. A Baowli, a reminiscence of the Sikh history in Lahore, was
also situated in this area. The Baowli was destroyed during the partition
violence. But some Sikhs visit it even today to remember the long forgotten
ghosts. Dr Khan, the Chief Minister of One Unit, got the Baowli renovated
during his government. Haveli Mian Khan, also located here, now has almost
hundred small houses in its premises. Settlement Department gave the houses on
claim while some were built.
Kashmiri Bazaar was the
hub of trade in pre-partition days. There was a press and several famous shops
in this locality. Being a Hindu majority area the trade and business of this
area was also controlled by Hindus. Now the building is encircled by garment
shops, gold market and crockery.
Air guitar-ing days
By Ali Sultan
god for the fact that when I was growing up there were no Atif Aslams or Ali
Zafars, there was very loud rock music and playing air guitar was THE art
form for every teenage male.
hear a song on the radio that I really like, or that used to be a favourite,
I sometimes dance around a little bit and pretend to play guitar. I play air
guitar. It probably looks extremely dumb to an outsider, especially to a
female, but to the man who plays it, it is quite serious slash a primal and
private dance. Men identify with the great rock guitarists the way they do
with sports legends, and we mimic their gestures and attitudes in an
instinctive quest for grace.
do is: extend your left arm sort of crookedly, faking chord changes on the
neck of an invisible electric guitar, rhythmically. Your right hand strums.
Your head bobs. Your hips twitch. A nearby mirror -- the bigger the better
reflects your grimaces. There is loud music on.
was a teenager, I used to play all the time. The impulse arose at odd
moments. Just walking around in an empty, hot late afternoon school hallway,
say, I might be seized by the inner music, drop to crouch and let loose a
devastating solo, sweat pouring down my forehead in intense concentration, it
would feel as if the heavens were falling down. The whole thing over in ten
air guitar was handy at parties, where by stiffening and lowering the arms a
little bit passed for dancing. Countless men my age still dance this way.
true essence of air guitar is intensely personal and a little embarrassing;
it's a strange mixture of fantasy and desire. I remember O-level mornings in
the anticipation of talking to my first crush, this at a time when a female
was a promise of wonder, of a life transformed -- climbing out of the shower,
putting on excessive amounts of my dad's perfume, secretly smoking the first
cigarette of the day and hearing the perfect song. Here was pleasure: a long
drag, a half turn on the volume knob, the hallucinatory rush of adrenaline,
followed by mindless dancing and playing air guitar in front of the fogged up
anything, it is possible to play air guitar well or poorly, but it has
nothing at all to do with being able to play an actual guitar. One is after
an image, a cool look. The choice of a role model is important, (mine was
Keith Richards) but what one copies is stance, attitude and character.
Remember only the electric guitar counts, there is no such thing as playing
acoustic air guitar. Years of practice help, and so does an appreciation for
very loud dumb music.
anyone remembers 'Risky Business' its success had a great deal to with the
scene in which Tom Cruise bounds about in the living room in a shirt and
socks. His parents are out of town of course. He turns up the stereo and
indulges in a whole array of rock star moves and plays amazing air guitar.
with friends years later, I discovered that our enjoyment of the scene -- of
its celebratory tone was tempered by all of us as an uneasy feeling of having
somehow been found out. A kind of reverse identification had taken place, and
we saw ourselves not as guitar heroes but as slightly absurd, lonely
teenagers -- which we actually were.
levels, I found friends who were into loud dumb rock music like me and before
any of us brought instruments and started a garage band -- which we actually
did later -- I remember that how we would crowd up in my room after a boring
day and make up a whole imaginary band -- it was always Led Zeppelin, Pink
Floyd or the Stones, and how I always wanted to be Keith Richards or John
Bonham. Each of us with our eyes closed, and our air guitars, always in a
sense alone. It sounds like a very silly and slightly aggressive male
fantasy, and it was.
remember my first car accident. My friend and I listening to 'Comfortably
Numb' on the car stereo, anticipating, hungrily for the guitar solo to come,
so that we could play our air guitars with it. And when it came, my friend
totally forgot that he was driving the car, closed his eyes and took his
hands of the wheel to imitate the David Gilmour riff. Many screeches later
and finding the car on top of a pavement, we couldn't stop laughing. Those
were the days.
same time, we always thought that playing air guitar would highly impress the
opposite sex. These were the heady confused times when me and my best friend
would close our eyes and play incredible dual solos on our invisible fenders
in front of the cafeteria. The women as one might have guessed were generally
get me wrong, we used to joke about playing air guitar, it being the perfect
subject for my generation's mode of discourse and rebellion, which was a mix
of the intimate and the ironic. But slowly with time and growing up, some
habits disappear and die.
days, I find myself at some emotional distance from most of the popular music
I hear, and going to rock concerts with friends has lost its appeal. I still
put on loud music first thing in the morning, and sometimes as I start to
dress, barefoot, with my first cigarette of the day in my mouth, I play a few
notes if it feels right and then refreshed, go to work.
A concert of unheard melodies
Government College University Lahore every Saturday at 01:30 PM
Puppet Show for Children at Alhamra,
Mall at 11a.m.
Horse Race Shah Jamal - Shalimar Bagh at Shah Jamal
Thursday 09:00 PM
Puppet Shows for everyone at Peerus Cafe
Asian Student Fair at Pearl Continental Hotel 13 - 14 Aug 2007.
Qawwali Music Session at Data Darbarevery
at 03:00 PM
The Second Islam Seminar: Global Environment & Islamic Thought at
Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex on 19 Aug 2007 09:30 AM
Die Hard 4.0 at Plaza Cinema 3:00 PM.
Khuda Ke Liye In The Name Of God at SOZO Cinema, Fortress 03:30 PM.
Students by night
Employees looking for an edge in the job market attempt to accommodate management courses into their evening schedules
By Jazib Zahir
years ago, Akbar was a fresh graduate from NUST (National University of
Science and Technology) eager to carve out a place in the local job market.
He was able to land a satisfying position in the telecommunications sector
and entered the grind of a 9 to 6 job. His company immersed him in
specialised training programmes and his diligence had already been rewarded
by a promotion up the corporate ladder.
time, he realised the significance of enhancing his formal education.
"Managerial skills were becoming increasingly critical to my day-to-day
job and my parents were pointing out to me the inevitability of pursuing an
MBA," he explains. "My experiences in the job market had also
convinced me that there was growing awareness of the value of a post-graduate
degree and a management degree in particular."
enrolling in a traditional full-time MBA meant resigning from his job and
sacrificing two years of potential work experience. "I was not willing
to leave my job since I realised that our recruiters place a premium on
number of years of experience as well," he explains. Fortunately for
Akbar, he found the perfect compromise by enrolling in the executive MBA
programme at the Lahore School of Economics designed specially for full-time
working professionals like himself.
evening classes permit him to continue developing his practical skills on the
job. He does not have to sacrifice two years of salary and thus has the
resources to finance his education without dipping into past savings.
"It's a pretty unique experience," he says. "You can apply the
things you learn every evening to your job the next day and there's instant
gratification." In two years, he hopes to have received a formal Masters
of Business Administration and have progressed even further at his job.
being a student by night can be an arduous task. He is expected to attend
classes from 6 pm to 9:30 pm four evenings a week. Couple that with the fact
that he is at his job right up till 6 pm and has to fit in time to study and
complete his assignments and he has quite a Herculean task on his hands.
"I am usually late to my class in the evenings," he admits,
"and I'm often struggling to complete my assignments within my free time
at work but I believe my efforts will eventually be rewarded."
everyone is so persistent. What started as a class of seventy students,
quickly whittled down to thirty-five. The survivors complete core
requirements in their first year and then choose between standard
specialisations like marketing and finance in the second.
just the difficulty of juggling classes with a testing working life that
forces people to capitulate. While the courses in the evening session are
supposed to closely mirror the structure of the regular full-time classes,
the teachers employed for them are not the most experienced ones. Also, the
rushed nature of these compact courses means that instructors often do not
have the time to explain fundamental concepts and those without exposure to
the rudiments of finance and accounting can be left floundering.
too was interested in cultivating some managerial skills but felt a formal
MBA was overkill since he was not looking for a complete change of job
function. He wanted a specific area of expertise and thus settled on a
part-time Masters in Quality Assurance from Punjab University. "Vague
skills in sales and marketing would not help me with the job I was
visualising," he explains, "an academic degree in quality assurance
has given me comparable decision-making skills to an MBA and allows me to
make a concrete contribution to my company."
found an alternative solution by enrolling in an evening course in finance at
the Lahore University for Management Sciences. "I knew exactly which
skill I needed to burnish so I found an appropriate course and enrolled in
it," he explains. "Since it is a single course in a functional area
relevant to my present position, my company agreed to pay for it. If I had
opted for something more elaborate, I would have had to foot the entire bill
everyone reaps immediate benefits for his efforts. Kashif knew lack of
business training might impede his job options, so he enrolled in evening
management classes at Punjab University while still an engineering student
having little formal work experience. But when he did get his first job offer
as an entry-level engineer, he found his employer accorded little weight age
to his complete skill set when setting his salary level or assigning him
retrospect, I might have developed my business credentials later in my career
when they would be more relevant," he concedes, "I'm hoping that my
employers will acknowledge these additional skills when deciding upon
awarding me positions of increasing responsibility in the future."
Motivation on the part of employees is thus often present. But financial
support and recognition from employers would go a long way in justifying the
endeavours of our most committed workers.
Kashmiri Chawal, Lakhsmi
burger, Mini Market
Kebab wala, Temple Road
Chikar cholay, Regal Chowk
Pathooray at Wazir Khan Masjid
Parathas at Kartaba Chowk
Pathan Chappal Kebab, Main Market
Sanam Haleem , Ferozepur Road