Cafes of Lyallpur

Sangat Singh


Born in 1933 in Dijkot, a small hamlet in district Lyallpur (now Faisalabad, Pakistan), I came after about eight attempts, including miscarriages. I grew up in Lyallpur as a pampered child. At the age of five, I was sent to nearby one roomed primary school where spartan old Jute Hessian bags (borian) were used for mats.  I refused to study there, and was enrolled in Sacred Heart Convent School for the next 9 years.  After getting his college degree in India, he moved to Singapore in 1954, and then to Malaysia in 1957, where he worked for Guthrie &amp\; Co., a large Scottish plantation company. He retired in 1988. He lives in Malaysia with his wife.  More about him at this link.

Editor's note: In February 2018, the Friday Times published an article on the cafes in Faisalabad, which used to be called Lyallpur before Pakistan was formed.  The article states: "One is not aware where the intellectuals of the city used to meet before Partition ...". This came up as a response.

In 1947 the only hotel of some note was the Grand Hotel that produced unsliced bread. They also had a hand slicing machine attached to the table. The only other heavenly product, at least for me, was cream cone, that to this day remains unmatched.

We knew the owner of Grand Hotel.  His wife was English and a doctor.  They lived in a Government Bungalow next to Coronation Library, opposite to the Ladies Garden.

I don't remember if they stayed on after Partition or not. .

There was another nondescript Union Hotel with hardly any guests. The only notable thing about it was that one of the owners was a National Hockey player.

In 1952 the Pakistani team visited Ludhiana, where we had shifted to after Partition, for a friendly match. At that time, I ran a photo studio. The Pakistani team visited me and took the opportunity to get a group photograph.  As a fellow Lyallpuri, they didn't offer to pay. No matter - it was great to have them.

There was another National Hockey Player by the name of DB Lal who had a book shop in Aminpur Bazar.

Now here is a question for Jatinder Ji. Do you remember the Union Hotel on Ketcherry road?  It was next to the famous bicycle shop.  After World War II, the new bicycles appeared on the market.  The brands were much in demand and I persuaded my respected Bhaiaji that I wanted a Raleigh bicycle then costing then Rs. 80/- The brand was BSA.

© Sangat Singh 2018


Sangat Ji's mention of BSA . Alas, Birmingham Small Arms Company vanished nearly fifty years ago.

My hazy memories about Dhabas and Bicycvles(As mentioned before).Besides the grand Grand Hotel of Lyallpur,there was amore popular Vaishanvi Dhaba where the workers used to eat their foods. most of the viositors, had their own "dabas" contaimg Deshi Ghee for applying on rotis of the Dhaba. these dabas were always locked by the owner before keeping on the special shelf meant for it.This dhaba,if i opposite the Upkari Cycles . as for cycles,we had old cycles already used by our elder brothers and passsed on to us.We used to go our school in mai di jhugi on bicycle. but i did ride a 10 gear cycle owned by the Ashraf sahib,Librarian of theCoronation Library that I used to visit wuite often.Our reach was upto the PAKORA Walla at the corner od Gole Bazaar and Kecheri Bazaar.We used to love Gobi ka pakora.I dont know whether the Grand Hotel ever served Pakoras in those days. sangat ypou are more "lyallpuri" than me.

Add new comment