Diminishing sights and sounds of glorious Lahore

Khalid Butt

IT has been appalling experience for Lahorites to find themselves suffering from repeated traffic jams on The Mall, which was once resplendent with its prestigious buildings, shopping stores, high class restaurants and smooth flow of traffic.
Alas, all that is now past history. The process of this decline and unholy trend started many years ago. But now this once premier centre piece of Punjab Capital has been turned into an unholy mess. Instead of a spick and span The Mall, with its two footpaths starting from the GPO to Lawrence Garden (now called Bagh-e-Jinnah) this has been turned into unworthy concentration of hawkers selling dry fruit, eatables and other items and traffic on both sides makes it impossible to park your vehicle. What is more instead of once being a place for evening walk even for rich and famous, this has been turned into a dump for garbage.
The process of this decline started few years back when in their infinite wisdom the then City Fathers allowed opening of Mini Markets and shopping plazas to turn it into a holy mess. The conversion of once quiet Hall Road, nearby into an electronic market has converted the whole area into traffic shambles the area finds itself.
I recall from earlier visits, prior to Independence and then even in the 50’s, The Mall was a place known for its prestige and decorum. Some of the most well known restaurants, night clubs, ice-cream parlors and high class stores and Tailors some even owned by Britishers were located here. To name few were Pitman, Ranken, F.J. King and three famous Chinese Shoe-makers, Kingson, Pitman and Fankson. The most famous ice-cream parlors namely Milk-Bar, Frosty Molty, and one in Lawrence Garden were all known for their high class product and alas all are now history. Some of the famous Restaurants, like Zelin’s Coffee House, Lunch Home, Standard, Sheraz Gardenia, Shezan Continental & Oriental, Victoria, Casino and others are all gone. The Mall now longer resembles its past. Instead of stately building of once “The Civil & Military Gazette”, now stands a crowded shopping Plaza.
Apart from its lack of cleanliness, overcrowding and turning The Mall into regular scene of holding political rallies and protests this has become to its glorious, glittering past.
Apart from the Zamazama located outside Lahore Museum, all other relics including Queen Victoria’s statue at Charing Cross and others of notable personalities have all vanished and may perhaps be lying somewhere in the official stores.
Some of the best known Cinema Houses, notable The Regent and The Plaza too are now become part of history.
I know in many other countries like UK, India and even in places like Nairobi in Kenya, authorities have taken great pains and efforts to retain the old glory of their old cities. Starting from The Mall I shall be also throwing lights on many other sides the great city of including its matchless monuments all suffering from the utter neglect and indifference of the authorities.

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