Photo Gallery - 1st Reunion of Class of 1964-69 - Sept 2001

1st Reunion of Class of 1964-1969 at Petaro, September 2001


Reunion report - Class of 1964-69

Date:  Sat, 15 Sep 2001

By: Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

Dear Friends

As salamu alaykum

With the destruction of the WTC Twin Towers and a portion of the Pentagon, and the unprecedented slaughter of thousands of people (Muslim and non-Muslim) in NY and Washington DC at the hands of individuals who seem to have lost their senses, our reunion of the 1964-1969 class seems to be pushed into the background. While the world laments this unfortunate incident, the massacres of tens of thousands of Muslims in Kashmir, Chechnya, Philippines, Kosova, Bosnia and other places are also forgotten. Indeed, as Muslims, we should not condone this unnecessary loss of civilian life in America.

Despite these dark clouds of horror that hover over our minds, let me report what transpired at Petaro over the last weekend – at least one of the silver linings in our lives.

The reunion is still fresh in our minds. The romanticism it created for our classmates has regenerated an incredible sense of love and brotherhood amongst us colleagues, and a yearning for those days which will never come back to us again.

It is not often that we are given a chance to peek through a window of the time machine, that will allow us to glance at the realities of an unforgettable age. It reminds me of a very famous song of the 1960s:

Those were the days my friend

We thought they'd never end

We'd sing and dance for ever and a day

We'd live the life we choose

We'd fight and never lose

For we were young and sure to have our way.

I suppose I am a dreamer. And sometimes we dreamers are able to make some of our dreams come true. Several months ago, when I approached my classmates to set a plan for this reunion, some of them definitely thought that I must be crazy. Now that September 6-8 has passed, and that dream has come true.

The journey to Petaro started from Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Hyderabad, Jhuddo, Umarkot, Karachi, Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco. Nearly 40 of us converged on Petaro from all these cities of Pakistan and USA on those 3 days. Several others who were very keen to come and who had promised to be there could not make it due to last minute problems.

Wednesday, the 5th of September 2001

On the morning of the 5th of September, eight of us from Rawalpindi/Islamabad, namely Zubair (502), Azizur Rehman (516), Lt.Col. Tahir Hussain (520), Brig. Nasim Akhtar Khan (533), Maj(R) Zulfiqar Kayani (604), Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui (671), Maj(R) Shafqat Hayat Raziq (982), plus Azizur Rehman's 13-year-old son boarded the Daewoo bus for Lahore at noontime.

The journey to Lahore ended before we even realized that four and a half hours passed by in a jiffy. We were all so excited. As we pulled into the Kalimah Chowk Daewoo bus terminal, we got a pleasant surprise. Standing right in front of us was a coaster with a big sign on it "Long Live Petaro". Major(R) Javed Arshad Manj (563) had arranged for the vehicle to transport us to the railway station. Within minutes, Brig. Arshad Zaman (519) also arrived from Gujranwala, and so did Lt.Col. (R) Javed Akhtar (506) and Abid Latif Minhas (514).

We drove to the railway station where we were met by Muhammad Ibrahim (973) and Maqbool (Max) Babri (971). This completed our group going by train from Lahore to Hyderabad. The rest of the people who came from the northern areas had to fly down to Karachi due to time constraints.

Brig. Arshad Zaman had already made reservations for 15 berths in lower A/C class for us on Karachi Express for that evening. There we were at the station with the hustle and bustle that I don't recall experiencing for at least the past 2 decades. We had almost forgotten what that train ride was like. Yes, we got the coolies to carry our luggage, and rushed across the platforms to find our bogie and seats. I truly felt like a teenager, climbing the rungs to the entrance of the bogie and then jumping off and then on and then off. It was almost like a new experience once again to be on the train.

The train blew its whistle at 6pm on the dot and started to move. The swaying of the coaches as the train started to pick up speed and the perennial rattling rhythm of the wheels rolling on the track seemed to sing a welcoming song and dance. It seemed to say repetitively "Welcome back to Petaro". Amid all this noise was laughter everywhere. We were prancing here and there with all sorts of jokes cracking between us. In this older age, most of the jokes could only be verbal. We were past the age of practical jokes. However, the verbosity of the jokes contained all the details of the imaginary practical part of it, which would in fact have been a reality 32 years ago.

Maqbool had brought burgers for all of us, and Arshad Zaman had a box full of sandwiches. We didn't need to steal any from them, like what might have happened 31 years earlier. 

We all sat in a ring initially with so many things to say to each other. As the hours passed by, we broke up into smaller groups for more intimate discussions and exchanges. Nasim had also brought his pack of cards as well.

Many of us didn't sleep the entire night, but some of us managed to get a few hours of sleep. 

Thursday, the 6th of September 2001

The train was late by an hour. Instead of arriving at 7:30am, it reached Hyderabad station at 8:30am on the morning of 6th September. Before the train entered Hyderabad city, Brig. Arshad Zaman had us move all our luggage to the exit of the bogie - in full military style. We were told that the train would stop for barely a couple of minutes and we would have to jump off with our luggage. What excitement! As the train pulled on to the platform, we could see the welcoming party holding up large signs of "Welcome to Petaro" and "Welcome to the Class of 1964-69". Two teachers and two cadet captains (JUOs) were there in the welcoming party. The coolies jumped on the train and picked up our baggage. We had to cross the bridge to get to the main entrance of the station. I hadn't been on that bridge at the Hyderabad station since 1969. It was absolutely nostalgic crossing that bridge.

The college bus was waiting to take us. The old green bus of our times was not there of course. And neither was Ali Chacha driving the bus. With "CADET COLLEGE PETARO" inscribed in large letters on the side, the bus departed through the city passing by Garhi Khata, Tilak Chari, St. Bonaventures and St. Mary's Schools, Noor Mohammed High School, and the Jail, and finally headed towards the Kotri Barrage. In our days, the barrage used to be called the Ghulam Mohammed Barrage.

Drive to Petaro

We opted to go by the old road from Jamshoro to Petaro, i.e. the road which is on the eastern side of the railway track, passing by the Petaro railway station. As you all may know, the new expressway from Jamshoro to Dadu runs on the western side of the railway track. In our times, there used to be just a few thelas of fruit vendors at the turning before the phatak. Now the turning is a busy junction. There are shops on both sides, and after turning towards Petaro, you see buildings on both sides of the road for some distance.

The old Petaro railway station is still the same after these 31 years. It seemed like life has been at a standstill at this station. We were told that the same 3 trains plow this line even after this great lapse of time, i.e. the Bolan Mail, the Shahbaz Express (used to be known as the Larkana Express in our times), and a local train.

We crossed the second railway phatak after the station and headed towards Petaro. The area between the station and the college has seen a few changes. The 2 small villages in between have grown in size substantially. There are quite a few houses there now. 

The bus stopped at the main gate. It is a grand gate, and looks very similar to the gate that we had left behind. However, increasing its majesty are two large guns on either side of the gate and a large ship anchor across the road. We got off for a group photo.

Reception at Petaro

The bus drove into the college straight to the administration block. Waiting for us in front of the Quaid Hall was the Principal and Commandant Cdre. Abid Saleem (589) and many of the staff members. After this grand welcome, Abid took us into his office for a cup of tea. Yes, believe it or not, kit no. 589 was now sitting in the forbidden chair of Cdr. Firoz Shah. It was a matter of pride that one of us was actually occupying that seat.

We were then driven to Shahbaz Division (the only house that didn't exist during our time). The ground floor was for us "boys", while the first floor was reserved for any of us who did bring their families. We were given our beds and towels.

Others arrive from Karachi, Hyderabad, Jhuddo, and Umarkot

While we waited for the Karachi group to arrive, Dr. Mushtaq Memon (534) arrived from Jhuddo, Dr. Sharif Varyamani (607) arrived from Umarkot, and Major (R) Ghulam Hussain Khoso (546) arrived from Hyderabad.

Just before lunch, the first large contingent from Karachi arrived. Included in the contingent were Naeem Saroya (504), Khalid Jameel (509), Mukhtar Ahmed (511), Anwar Aziz Farooqui (521), Zahoor Malik (522), Abdul Aziz Talpur (545), Perways Inam (567), Fayyaz Ahmed (571), Javed Siddiqi (572), Jahanzeb Arshad (675), and Kamal Qureshi (689). It was one of the most incredible scenes. Just imagine all these 50 year olds jumping up and down with joy, grabbing each other, shouting at the top of their voices when they met their long lost friends after 30-35 years. I am so thankful to Allah that half of them didn't collapse there due to heart attacks or exhaustion. But the excitement was unbelievable – the embraces, the name-calling, the hugs, in the corridors of Shahbaz Division.

Then Ch. Shahid Latif “Sanday Khan” (962) arrived with his wife from Multan. Lastly, Pervaiz Akhtar “Beauchamp” (965) arrived with his whole family from Lahore. They drove all the way.

Lunch at the Cadet’s Mess

We had an hour and a half to get ready for lunch. Despite the fact that most of us hadn't slept well the previous night, we were in no mood for a rest. But we did need a shower. Most of us had our clothes off with towels around our waists. The funny part was that the towels were too small to go around the waists of many of us fatties. With fat thighs sticking out while they walked, you may have considered it to be a rather vulgar scene elsewhere. But between brothers, that apparent vulgarity was just a laugh. With some brushing their teeth and some sitting in a row over the khuddis, while others in the showers, the bathroom was alive. It was the place to be, where all the problems of the universe were being discussed from each corner.

We had lunch at the new Cadets' Mess - rather late - around 2:30pm due to the late arrivals from Karachi.

Shortly after lunch, Afzal Cheema (532) and Javed Arshad Manj (563) made it. They had taken a flight from Lahore to Karachi in the morning and drove in the college.

Also arriving at this time was Lt.Col. Irfan Haider (Y-9), who came from Hyderabad.

Cricket Match

At 4pm we had a cricket match - between the Class of 64-69 and the present appointment holders of Class XII. Our team captain was Lt.Col. Afzal Cheema. I am sure that the college administration was very benevolent and must have briefed the cadets not to be too hard on us. I am sure they didn't want to embarrass us too badly. However, you will be surprised that we oldies did a pretty good job. We seem to have excelled in batting, bowling and fielding. Brig. Nasim and Cdr. Khalid Jameel's catches were excellent. We won the match by around 20 runs, thanks to the Class XII for their kindness.

Immediately after the match, the clothes contractor set up shop in the dorm to get each one of us into uniform for the next morning. Each one of us was required to buy a uniform shirt (white – the khaki uniform doesn’t exist now), epaulettes, CCP brass, CCP badge, and beret. Trousers were optional. The epaulettes were prepared specially with 5 stripes – the 5th stripe to signify that we had passed out from Petaro. Some of us also bought belts and shoes, and our house T-shirts and shorts. The greatest problem was finding the right sized shirts for the fattest amongst us. The tailors worked hard to fix the shirts and we succeeded.

Dinner at Principal’s House

That evening, we had a dinner at Cdre. Abid Saleem's residence in his lawn. Yes, we were the honoured guests on the same lawn that used to be the strolling ground of Cdr. (R) Firoz Shah, our principal. The food was excellent and the hosts (particularly Mrs. Abid Saleem) were most gracious.

After dinner, we were shown the movie "Heer Ranjha" (from the 1960's) in the college auditorium.

Friday the 7th of September 2001

The dress of the day was the college uniform above the waist. We were all dressed up, and then went for breakfast. After breakfast, we all had to "fall-in" in front of Shahbaz Division. Two drums were brought for the march past. The large drum was fixed on Karim Khan's stomach with great difficulty. We had to bring a cobbler to adjust the holes in belt so that it would fit over his extra large tummy now. The other drum was taken over by Shahid Latif. They practiced the drums for around 5 minutes. We are all amazed how these 2 still remembered how to play the drums after these 3 decades.

March past

The made the 3 columns and with Cdre. Abid Saleem commanding the troupe, we marched in pace (no one was out of step) to the drumming of Karim Khan and Shahid Latif. Good old Naeem Saroya had made a rhyme about the "Class of 69", and to the shouts of this rhyme and the drums we marched all the way to the assembly area in front of Quaid Hall.

Havaldar Mirullah Jan was also there to remind us of the old days. He now has a red beard and is very old. Ali Chacha the driver had also come to be with us.

Assembly

At the assembly, Zubair (502) recited from the Qur'an and Naeem (504) read the translation. Then Y-9 Lt.Col Irfan Haider read the news. This was concocted news of what may have happened in 1969 - funny incidents about Bhatti Sahib, Azim Sahib and various students.

College tour

After the assembly, we were given a tour of the college and its new facilities. The language lab, the bio lab and the computer lab were new for us. The library is now air-conditioned. We even sat in a classroom to remind ourselves of our days, and Mr. Durrani just walked up and spoke for a few minutes as the lecturer. That was great.

Just as we had started the tour, Raza Kamal Minhas (584) and Mohammed Ali (Y-5) arrived from Karachi. Nostalgia was in the air again.

In the staff room

As we ended our tour, we found ourselves in the staff room on the first floor of the Administration complex just above the staircase and the drinking water tanks. An elaborate tea was waiting for us.

The present staff members had hosted the tea in the staff room for us. Inayat Sahib, Zaman Sahib and Channa Sahib also joined us for the tea under all that excitement.

Private session of our classmates

We then moved to the auditorium for a very private session. Only our classmates were allowed. Each one was required to come to the podium and tell all others of what he has been doing since he left Petaro, about his family and any anecdotes from his period in Petaro. The session was incredible and nostalgic to its limits. I am afraid that I cannot reveal all that was said there.

Lunch, namaz and the Official Session

Lunch was in the Mess, and then we rushed off for a quick lunch and then Juma prayers to the masjid.

After namaz, we had to assemble again at the Quaid Hall. There we had group photos taken, and then the serious session started. All of the Class XI and XII, all of the present staff members, the Class of 1964-69, and those of our professors emeritus who had come were present. Mr. Aziz Ahmed Farooqui was the Chief Guest. Unfortunately, Mr. Azim had met with a small accident to his foot the previous day and was unable to come. Likewise a couple of our other senior teachers like Mr. Abdullah Khadim Hussain were down with the flu' and were in bed. Mr. Bhatti and Mr. Saeed were told at the last minute that they could not get leave from their present assignments, and therefore had to decline at the 11th hour.

The teachers who did come were Mr. A.A. Faruqui, Mr. Inayat Ali Khan (Urdu), Mr. Ch. Abdul Ghani (Maths), Mr. Channa (Agriculture), and Mr. Zaman (Chemistry). Mr. M.P Durrani and Mr. Ghouri had just joined the college when we left. Thus there were 7 of the teachers of our time who were present.

Each of the teachers spoke to us for a few minutes. Mr. Inayat Ali Khan is a celebrity these days over TV. He is often there in mushairas, and is quite popular. Here on the stage, his presentation was superb with his own poetry about Petaro and the Pakistani scene. Mr. Zaman, Mr. Channa and Mr. Ghani's speeches were to the point and very emotional. Lastly Mr. Faruqui's speech was excellent.

We had shields prepared for each participant from our class with the names and kit nos. of all our classmates inscribed on them. Each one of us was then called to the stage and given a shield by the Chief Guest. We then asked the Chief Guest to present our GIFT TO PETARO of Rs. 10 lacs to the Principal. This money will be used to construct new squash courts. It was indeed a great achievement that most of us from our classmates contributed towards this gift.

Lastly, I was nominated to speak on behalf of our class to the audience to thank everyone and to relive some of those memories. We also remembered the 6 colleagues of ours who had died, and offered dua for them.

Football match

After the ceremony (which lasted around 2 hours), we rushed to the dorms, changed clothes and headed for the grassy field for the football match between our class and the staff members. It was a very good match, and we lost by 1 goal. Abid Saleem was our captain.

Poolside dinner

At 8pm we had to assemble at the poolside for dinner. The XI and XII class had prepared a musical program for us. They sang songs in Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi and Pushto. Fayyaz Shaikh of our class also sang 2 excellent ghazals. As this was in progress, some of our classmates went and mingled with the cadets from their own houses, dancing bhangra with them, and with shouts for their own houses. This created an excellent feeling of brotherhood between the 2 classes that were 32 years apart. Dinner was then served, and then the cadets moved to the auditorium for a movie. We had brought Armaan (from the 1960s) for screening that night.

Saturday, the 8th of September 2001

Many of us were up early in the morning for an early dip in the swimming pool.

Getting serious – let’s do something

After breakfast, our class assembled again at the auditorium. We had lots of fun over the 2 days, and we felt truly honoured. Now we wanted to discuss the way forward. We all wanted to have another reunion within the next couple of years. And we all wanted to be a part of newer initiatives that can help Pakistan and Petaro and Petarians in the future. We resolved to create a forum and a foundation for this purpose.

Presentation to the XI and XII classes

After this session, most of the classmates went for riding and swimming and shooting. While that was in progress, I had assembled the XI and XII class in the auditorium for a presentation on the "future of the Muslim Ummah and Pakistan in the 21st century". I wanted to share my own vision, and to tell them that 50 years from now they should be proud Pakistanis and not like us who have failed this country. Using Powerpoint and multimedia, I spoke to them for 2 hours. This led to an excited question and answer session for around 20 minutes. The response was excellent.

Lunch with the cadets

We then proceeded for lunch to the Mess. This was the cadets' lunch. As we all proceeded to the head table, the cadets came over and dragged us down to their own tables according to the houses. This was a tremendous gesture on their part, where they now started to own us. The head table was empty. Before the lunch started, the houses yelled at each other and made the entire hall very vibrant.

By the way, we did follow all the other traditions during our visit. The "Gentlemen bismillihir rahmanir rahim" at the beginning of meals and "Gentlemen alhamdulillah" at the end of the meals was uttered religiously.

However, the adjutant was too soft on us. He did not punish those who were smoking, or those who violated the lights out time. During the night, we had groups sitting everywhere with jokes and anecdotes a plenty. They even played Flash and didn't get an extra drill. Fortunately, the activities ended at that and we had no unforeseen activities that could have led to an expulsion. LOL! I suppose any champions of those days are a bit too senile by now.

Departure

After lunch, we started to depart. The Karachi and Sindh groups left by around 4pm while the northerners took the train back to Lahore that evening.

The 1964-69ers have now passed a resolution that the Class of 1963-68 will donate 20 lacs, Class of 1962-67 will donate 30 lacs, and so on. Likewise, the Class of 1965-70 will also donate 20 lacs, Class of 1966-71 will donate 30 lacs, etc. Well best of luck to you all friends. 

Appreciation

In the end, I want to once again thank the biggest donor amongst us, namely Ghiasuddin Sidiqi, kit no 964, who donated 5 lacs out of the over 10 lacs we collected. Three cheers for Ghias!  Amongst the others, 6 of us donated 50,000+ each. There were many who gave 5,000 to 10,000 each. We thank every one who gave even a small amount of money.

By the way, we had decided not to burden the college, and have paid for all the expenses of this reunion, including the food, travel, tips, uniforms, etc. However, the love we got from the college, the staff, and the students could not be compensated. It can never be compensated. We shall always be grateful to them for this.

I also want to specifically mention that 3 of us flew all the way from the USA for this occasion, namely Naeem Saroya (504), Javed Siddiqui (572) and Mohammed Ali (Y-5). We are most grateful to them for having considered us to be so important in their lives.

Last and not the least, we would like to thank Cdre. and Mrs. Abid Saleem and all the staff members and employees of the college who made this into the most wonderful and memorable occasion of our lives.

For those of us who missed this occasion, I feel sorry that you were not amongst us. We missed you, and I know that you missed an opportunity of your lifetime. This occasion shed at least 10 years from our old age, and has rejuvenated us.

Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif (1965-69)

 

Naeem Saroya adds:

Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2001 16:18:46 EDT

From: NSAROYA@aol.com

Salam my dear friends,

Thank you Zulqadar for putting together the report of our reunion May Allah reward you! However, it did not cover the Southern Contingent’s Journey from Karachi to Petaro. There were 12 of us that came from Karachi. 

The coordination was undertaken by Brig. Mukhtar and Perways Inam. We all got together at Mukhtar’s house and he was very gracious to host us, serving us with the desi ghee Halwa. Perways Inam specially brought "Ludoos" in honor of Khalid Jamil Luddoo and also to celebrate the occasion. The southern contingent included Naeem Saroya 504 (ChuChi), Khalid Jameel 509 (Luddoo), Mukhtar Ahmed 511 (Mullah), Anwar Aziz Farooqui 521 (Pakora), Zahoor Malik 522, Abdul Aziz Talpur 545, Perways Inam 567, Fayyaz Ahmed 571, Javed Siddiqi 572, Jahanzeb Arshad 675 (Jhanpoo), and Kamal Qureshi 689.

Raza Kamal Minhas (584) and Mohammed Ali (Y-5) drove up from Karachi together on Friday morning, just in time to attend the main functions. Farooq Tahir 539 was the last to come since he was travelling. He finally made it to Petaro on Saturday morning as was able to spend half a day with us.

We had a most enjoyable and interesting journey from Karachi to Petaro. At the mid-way tea stop we had the most interesting mushaira (if it can be called one), interspersed with the most unimaginable (and non-repeatable) jokes. The star poets were Perways Inam and Fayyaz of course. We did get some tea too. Believe me, I hadn’t heard such incredible poetry in these 32 years. You know what I am talking about.

Some of us also had the opportunity on Friday and Saturday to check the temperature of swimming pool water. It reminded us of the lessons we took from Mrs. Russell 36 years ago. Others amongst us got a chance to check out the Chaal of the Petaro horses.

Well as far as the sentiments are concerned when I was flying from USA to Karachi, I already had turned back into a 12-year old in the plane, imagining myself in the dorms and walking the corridors of the Administration Building and the sports fields. It didn't matter where we were coming from we were all once again turned back the time. It was wonderful. I don't thing we can recreate the sparks and spontaneous love and affection each one had for the other. Walking in towels and keeping the tradition of borrowing the tooth paste was very much alive.

My love and thanks to Abid Saleem and Zulqadar and other who put it together.

Till next time

With love and respect

Your brother

Naeem Saroya 504

Brother to Brother

Petarian to Petarian

In Life and in Death

A list of those of our batchmates who came to the reunion is as follows:

Kit no.

Name

406

Karim Khan Rajput

502

M. Zubair Awan

504 Naeem Ahmed Saroya
506 Lt.Col. Javed Akhtar Gondal
509 Lt.Cdr. Khalid Jamil Kirmani

511

Brig. Mukhtar Ahmed

514 Abid Latif Minhas

515

Lt.Col. Shafqat Nazar Chatha

516 CaptPN Azizur Rehman
519 Brig. Arshad Zaman
520 Lt.Col. Tahir Hussain
521 Aziz Ahmed Farooqui

522

Col. Zahoor Malik

532 Lt.Col. Afzal Cheema
533 Brig.Dr. Nasim Akhtar Khan
534 Dr. Mushtaq Memon

535

CaptPN T.J. Siddiqui

539 Col. Farooq Tahir
545 Dr. Abdul Aziz Talpur
546 Major Ghulam Hussain Khoso
563 Major Javed Arshad Manj
567 Perways Inam
571 Fayyaz Shaikh
572 Javed Siddiqui
584 Raza Kamal Minhas
589 Cdre. Abid Saleem

604

Major Zulfiqar Kayani

607 Dr. Muhammad Sharif Varyamani

671

Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui

675 Major Jahanzeb Arshad
689 Kamal Qureshi
962 Ch. Shahid Latif
965 Pervez Akhtar "Beauchamp"
971 Maqbool "Max" Babri
972 Zahid Pervez
973 Muhammad Ibrahim
982 Major Shafqat Hayat Raziq
Y-5 Mohammed Ali
Y-9 Lt.Col. Irfan Haider