The South Asian Life & Times - SALT   
  January - March 2013          



 January - March 2013


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 Chakwal – Fondly Remembered

By O.P. Dutta

(O P Dutta was a regular contributor to SALT – his column ‘Social Comment’ was popular and eagerly awaited by all its readers, and so were his articles that he wrote from time to time. It will be a year this February, since he passed on. In his fond memory, we are publishing one of the very first pieces he wrote for the magazine – while it was still only on the web.  In this article, O.P. Dutta, film-maker and writer, fondly remembers his first ‘hometown’ Chakwal - now in the Punjab province of Pakistan.)

The railway station at Chakwal, the second last station on the ‘Mandra-Bhon’ railway as it was known then (I am talking of twenties and thirties during the last century) was a running distance from the town, if not a walking distance. The moment you alighted from the only train that arrived from Mandra, you were greeted by the drivers (and not coolies) anxious to grab your baggage. Not only were they looking for passengers to the town, but to neighbouring villages such as Karyala, Bhalla, Udharval and Roopwal. They gave special attention to well-dressed ladies and the gentlemen of the ‘Khoja’ community who were mostly engaged in the leather business at ‘Calcutta’ or ‘Hong Kong’. The attention was for obvious reasons.

As one drove down (or walked) the road to the town, one was greeted by the aroma of cooked food in the air. There were quite a few cooking joints (they are now known as ‘dhabas’). The aroma of the curried lamb was so arresting. A little distance down the road was the bus ‘adda’ (then known as the lorry stand) which looked more like an auto garage. It seems the vehicles were constantly under repair.


Read the entire article in the print edition of The South Asian Life & Times



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