J A L A N D H A R  S T O R I E S


More than a heartbeat of Doaba
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

“WE are proud to be Jalandhari,” feel a galaxy of achievers from the city. And indeed they have reason to feel so for Jalandhar is a colourful, vibrant and a progressive city that lies in the heartland of the Doaba region of Punjab. The people are full of life and enthusiasm and their undying spirit to win at any cost has not only exalted their status in their respective and different fields, but has also made Jalandhar known all over the world.

It is interesting and at times even somewhat   difficult to imagine that despite their envious success stories, Jalandharis, or those who have had a long association with the city, have largely been down to earth people. And wherever they are today, they love Jalandhar in an extremely passionate manner.

For Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, the former Prime Minister of India, Jalandhar is still  an “emotional home,” where he and his family had settled down after the partition of the country in 1947. It was here that his mother late Pushpa Gujral became a member of the then Municipal Committee of Jalandhar. “ I am proud to be a Jalandhari. Both of my sons were born here. It is a city which had given us a place to stay and which embraced us after we had been uprooted during Partition. It was the time when Jalandhar was a small city with bad roads and polluted environment. Nowadays, it is a modern city which has turned out to be a prominent education centre. It will grow further and will bear a scientific ambience with the completion of the Science City. My emotional attachment with Jalandhar is perennial.”

Mr. Gujral was behind the setting up of the Doordarshan Kendra and strengthening of the All India Radio transmitters during his tenure as the Information and Broadcasting Minister.
For playback singer Sukhwinder Singh of “Chal Chhaiyaan Chhaiyan” fame, Jalandhar is nothing less than a “Mecca.” It is from here that his career as a singer had taken off and it is the place where he had spent a couple of years for getting his training in classical music. “I think Jalandhar was behind my success as I had jumped headlong into music. I was given a break as a singer by the Doordarshan kendra here and its then producer Harjit Singh. Jalandhar is my soul and I am fully concerned with Jalandhar. Whenever I go on a foreign trip, people from or around Jalandhar and settled abroad, swarm around me and show their love for me.”

Eminent film producer and Dada Sahib Phalke award winner, Mr. Yash Chopra, a former student of Doaba college, shows his emotional attachment with the city by quipping, “All I can say is that I love Jalandhar.” He has been a regular visitor to the city, where his relations are putting up and where he still has his ancestral house.

Jalandhar- based Hans Raj Hans, the ‘Raj Gayak” and a renowned singer of the Sufi stream, considers Jalandhar as a city where every hue of life is visible like a “rainbow in the sky”. For the sake of his ‘homecity’ Jalandhar, Hans even shunned his plans to settle in London and later in Mumbai. He had even bought a nice home in London, but, he failed to resist the love that was offered to him by Jalandharis. “Yes, I admit, I find myself to be extremely attached with Jalandhar. Memories are still afresh of my days of intense struggle, when I used to come to Jalandhar from my native village, Samipur, and cover the 10- km distance on foot,” said Hans Raj Hans. He also hums a line from one of his songs, Saada Fakkran Daa Shahar Jalandhar Kude....” to strengthen his claim over the city of his struggle and dreams.

“It is clean but at the same time a little congested. But I consider it the best city of Punjab, as it is always full with life. I have been passionately associated with it since 1992, when I shifted my base from my native village, Dallian Mirzanpur, in Gurdaspur. Since then it has been a long journey,” says pop singer Jasbir Jassi.

Prominent hotelier and industrialist Gautam Kapoor, who is also owner of hotel Radisson Windsor, has more reasons to feel proud to be a Jalandhari. “People here and in the entire Doaba region are hardworking. They are achievers in life. Even in countries like the US, Canada and the UK, Jalandharis are not dependent on the social security system. Jalandharis are also more careful about their surroundings, which is why Jalandhar is more clean as compared to any other city of Punjab,” feels Mr Gautam Kapoor.

Ms Poornima Berry, a prominent socialite and industrialist who is also associated with the annual Sri Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan apart from being the Managing Director of Leader Valves Limited, thinks that Jalandhar is a cosmopolitan city, where besides enjoying the comforts of life, “one can retain one’s identity.” “People are comparatively peaceful and friendly. For me, it comes next to Amritsar, but, still it is better than any other city of Punjab,” maintains Ms Berry.

“Here in this city, you can find everything that is found in a big city, from a surfeit of food joints to big and good hotels. The beauty of the city is that it is not very congested. The new part of the town is very beautiful and has come up in a well-planned manner. Moreover, you have state- of-the-art educational facilities here,” feels Mr Ashok Mittal, Director of the  Lovely Educational Trust and an eminent industrialist.

Dubbed the ‘sports kingdom’ of Punjab, Jalandhar has sports personalities falling in love with it as well. “People are good, no doubt. But what attracts me the most to it is that the city has all kinds of facilities,” says eminent hockey player Jugraj Singh, who has been putting up in the city since 1994 and who is a product of the local Khalsa High School.

“My reason for falling in love with this city is that people here are not interfering. As a large number of people from here have gone abroad, the city has attained a classy touch, which is visible everywhere in the city,” Besides maintaining its oriental touch, it’s modern as well, says Olympian Pargat Singh.

Nidhi Yashroy, a young girl of the city, feels that Jalandhar is the best place for one to develop his or her personality. “It is full of opportunities and avenues. If it is a centre of media and education, this city also has the highest concentration of hospitals in Asia. It is the most happening city in the state,” says Nidhi.



Jalandharis are enterprising’

“TO be a Jalandhari is to be bold, adventurous and enterprising; to be deeply religious as well as keenly rational, to be guided by tradition and yet value modern trends and outlook; to love the land of one’s birth and yet to try to move out for greener pastures. The inhabitants of Jalandhar Doab were the first to migrate to Canada, the UK and the USA and continue their exodus despite constraints and risks to their lives.

The spirit of the city lies not in its posh colonies or industrial houses, sports, rubber of leather products or educational and technical institutes but in its rich socio-cultural heritage.

Being on the old route from the north-west to Delhi, the Jalandhar Doab had to bear the brunt of foreign invasions. The hammering hardened the inhabitants to tempered steel. Ghadari Babas made a show of this spirit against the British Raj. So did the Babar Akalis whose courage and confidence had become legendary.

Jalandharies love to talk and want to be heard. They believe in hard work and expect hard returns. They are not satisfied with just making their both ends meet but want to make a mark in life. Politics is a substance in their bones. The city being the media capital of Punjab has sharpened their ratiocinative faculties and given them sufficient opportunity to express themselves on social, economic, political, cultural and other issues.

Walt Whitman wrote (Song of the Broad-Axe), “a great city is that which has the greatest men and women.” Jalandhar clearly makes the grade in this respect. It has produced eminent persons of national and international stature — politicians and statesmen like I.K. Gujral, Zia-ul-Haq and S. Swaran Singh; literary figures like Hafiz, Sudarshan Faqir, Upendranath Ashq and Gurdial Singh Phull; singer-actor like K.L. Saigal and wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh, cricketers like Harbhajan Singh, freedom fighters like Master Mota Singh, Babu Labh Singh, Shanno Devi, Virendra, Jagat Narain and many more; social crusaders like Lala Dev Raj, Lala Munshi Ram and Pushpa Gujral.”



Killer roads snake their way through city
Traffic violations rampant, no earmarked parking space as administration indifferent to traffic woes
Deepkamal Kaur

Tribune News Service

THE statistics are shocking: more than 95 persons were killed and as many as 117 injured in accidents on Jalandhar roads in the past six months. Even more shocking is the fact that the administration is yet to wake up to it.

The traffic scene here is quite chaotic. Motorists ride without a helmet. Jumping lights is common. Underage drivers zip past the roads merrily. There are hardly any zebra crossings. It’s free-for-all on most of the city roads.

The problem has assumed serious proportions as the number of vehicles on roads has increased manifolds over the past years. According to data available with the District Transport Officer, the city with a population of nearly 8 lakhs, has about 3.5 lakh vehicles. Of these, 75 per cent are two wheelers and 22 per cent are cars. The rest three per cent comprises heavy vehicles.

Congested roads coupled with encroachments by shopkeepers, particularly on Ladowali Road, Rainak Bazaar, Daana Mandi, Jail Road, Garha Road and railway station, compound the problem. Street vendors and rickshaw pullers further hinder the free flow of traffic.

Lack of adequate parking spaces outside major shopping places is yet another problem that has added to the traffic woes in areas like Model Town. People park their cars and two wheelers just outside shops, blocking a sizeable chunk of space.

However, the district police claims that violators of traffic rules are being dealt with strictly. Mr Rajpal Singh Sandhu, SP (City), said vehicles that were parked in “no parking areas” were towed away. In a recently launched drive, he added, encroachments on PAP Chowk, BSF Chowk, BMC Chowk, Kapurthala Chowk, Football Chowk and Patel Chowk were being removed. Police personnel in plainclothes kept a check on the violators, and a special drive to educate school and college students was in full swing, he elaborated.



Glassful of clean water is a luxury, say residents
J.S. Malhotra
Tribune News Service

SHORTAGE of drinking water has hit residents of more than a dozen residential colonies here. They rue that they cannot get even a glass of clean water. Clean drinking water has become more or less a luxury for them, they say.

Though the problem has its genesis in the water table here having gone down from 30 feet in 1994 to 99 feet in 2004, lack of proper planning on the part of the Municipal Corporation authorities has made things worse.

During a survey of the affected localities by The Tribune team, it was found that residents of Darjian Mohalla, Kila Mohalla, and Mohalla Karar Khan areas were facing acute shortage of water. The localities are nearly 30 feet above the ground level. “Water pressure is very low here. In fact, water is available only for one hour in the morning. We have to fetch clean drinking water from adjoining localities,” rued Ms Sharanjit Kaur, a resident of Kila Mohalla.

“We are living in a miserable condition. Water is the basic necessity and we have to do without it. The MC officials seem least concerned. We submitted written complaints to the officials many times, but nothing has been done so far,” Mr Satinder Kumar of Mohalla Karar Khan said.

The residents of these areas alleged that the MC officials had decreased the duration of water supply to their area. “Water supply here is already affected by unannounced power cuts. The decision to decrease the duration of water supply by two hours in a day is a double whammy. It is an anti-people step,” rued Ms Bishan Kaur, a resident of Darjian Mohalla.

When contacted, the Superintending Engineer, Mr A.K. Parbhakar, admitted that there was shortage of water in ‘high-altitude’ residential localities. “We have decided to set up five deep tube wells in the affected localities. The work is being allocated to private contractors,” he said.

The proposed tubewells may bail the residents out in future, but as of now the residents have no respite from water woes.



Official apathy builds a bridge to nowhere
Tribune News Service

BRIDGES are the lifeline of a city. Nothing could be worse for city residents than a long-drawn-out wrangle swallowing up a bridge. Unfortunately, this has been the case with residents of Phagwara, thanks to a lingering dispute between the contractor and the state government.

The much-hyped Rs 16 crore project to construct a railway over bridge (ROB) on the Satnampura railway crossing near the Sugar Mill has been hanging fire for the past two years. The delay is costing locals dear. Recently, five persons, including a one-year-old and his parents, lost their life when they failed to see a train coming from the other side.

The project was formally (and hurriedly) inaugurated in 2002 by the then-MP Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of the then Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, just before the announcement of the Assembly elections. The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) later awarded the contract for the project to the U.P. Bridge Corporation, which started work on May 11, 2002. The bridge was to connect two major parts of the town. It would have benefited more than one lakh residents, including those of Satnampura, Bhagatpura, Main Bazar, Hadiabad, Adarsh Nagar areas on the Phagwara-Nakodar road, besides paving a hassle-free route to Hoshiarpur.

The contractor claims that the work is being delayed on account of various practical problems related to the removal of electricity poles and power sub-station from the project site, the sanction to cut trees and the transfer of land. Departmental sources, on the contrary, reveal that 80 per cent of the site is clear. It is the settlement of the escalated cost of the project that is the bone of contention, sources reveal. The project was scheduled for completion within a year. In the meantime, steel prices shot up and the project cost reportedly increased by more than Rs 1 crore.

In this wrangle, it is the residents who are at the receiving end. Service roads on the national highway are yet to be laid. The approach roads are full of potholes and the main road leading to Hoshiarpur is in a bad shape. “It’s like a dream project turning into a cruel joke. We don’t know what to do. It is very difficult to cross therailway track as the approach roads are in bad condition,” rued Mr Sukhwinder Singh Kamboh, a resident of Hadiabad. A senior PIDB officer, on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the U.P. Corporation was short of funds. “The state Finance Secretary has planned a meeting with senior officials of the corporation at Chandigarh on August 12 to settle the issue. Though the firm is demanding that the escalation in the project cost be compensated, it is not possible as per the terms of the agreement,” he added.



Beneath-the-water’ city rises to new heights
Satish K. Kapoor

A view of the Devi Talab temple
A view of the Devi Talab temple

JALANDHAR has a dipolar past. It has been both the holy seat of deities like Vishvamukhi (vide Matsya Purana) and the stronghold of asuri shaktis represented by the demon king, Jalandhar (son of ocean), whose name is mythically associated with the birth of the city. Geologically, Jalandhar is said to have been ‘beneath the waters’.

According to the Padma Purana, the demon Jalandhar had acquired so much power by virtue of his chaste wife Vrinda that Gods started fearing him. Hence, Lord Vishnu assumed the form of the demon and seduced his angelic wife. Bereft of some of his power through the infidelity of his better half, Jalandhar was easily slain by Lord Shiva. Another account states that Jalandhar was killed by lord Vishnu himself who built the city on his back. A temple dedicated to Vrinda Devi, wife of Jalandhar, exists to this day in Kot Kishan Chand locality.

Sir Alexander Cunningham found in this myth a geological hint about the existence of the Arabian Sea in the entire Jalandhar and the Shivalik hills in remote times. The land gradually dried up but the name Jalandhar meaning that which is ‘submerged under water’ remained in vogue. The earliest reference to Jalandhar occurs in the works of Claudius Ptolemaeus, Greek astronomer and geographer, who mentions it as Kulindrin or Khulindrine which, in Cunningham’s worlds should be read as Sulindrins. References to Jalandhar are also found in the Ramayana, the Mahabarata, the Puranas, Yogini Tantra, Brihata Samhita, Dashkumaracharita and Rajatrangini of Kalhana.

Historians believe that Susharmana Chandra, a Rajput chieftain, who was an ally of the Kauravas in the battle of the Mahabharata, retired to the Jalandhar Doab and founded a kingdom which came to be known as Trigartta - the region between three rivers, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. During the reign of Kanishka, a Council of Buddhist scholars is believed to have met at this place. As per oral evidence, the town had a Buddhist monastery which attracted people from near and far.

When Hieun Tsang visited the city (Che-Lan-to-lo), he described it as situated north-east of China-po-ti (China Bhuti) and south-west of Kiu-lu-to (Kaluta or modern Kulu). It measured about 1000 li or 167 miles in length from east to west and 800 li or 133 miles in breadth from north to south. Along with the Buddhist monasteries having 2000 monks, he referred to the existence of three Deva temples with more than 500 professed non-Buddhists of the Pashupata sect.

Jalandhar was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazna but it acquired great importance during the Mughal period when it became virtually the capital of the northern portion of the Jalandhar Doab which then extended to the neighbourhood of Multan. During this time the twelve Muslim Bastis came into existence in Jalandhar. The Hindus, in turn, built up kots for residential purposes. Jalandhar also became famous for its 12 gates.

The city faced the wrath of Baba Badbhag Singh and his followers as they wanted to avenge the destruction of the sacred city of Kartarpur by Ahmad Shah Abdali. Later, Jalandhar fell into the hands of the Sikh Misl, Faizalpuria then under Khushhal Singh. His son, Budh Singh built a masonry fort in the city now known as Kila Mohalla. The city was conquered by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1811. It is believed that the troops of the Maharaja stayed at a place where the Devi Talab shrine is situated.

Jalandhar was annexed to the British dominion during the governor generalship of Lord Hardinge. Its importance increased when it was made the seat of a divisional headquarter for the purpose of civil administration.

During the Rising of 1857 some of the native regiments revolted against the British and killed some officers in the cantonment area. Later, when freedom struggle gained momentum the people participated in great numbers in different movements and morchas launched by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress, the Arya Samaj, the Akalis and the Babar Akalis.

The complexion of the city changed after Partition. The Muslims, who formed about 60 per cent of the population, migrated to Pakistan and Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan shifted to this place.

In the reorganised Punjab, Jalandhar ranks second in urbanisation in the state and has a high literacy rate. It claims the highest density of 598 persons per sq. km against 401 persons per sq km for the state after Ludhiana district.

Jalandhar has the distinction of being the biggest newspaper printing centres of India. It is also known for its technical and non-technical educational institutions. Jalandhar is also an important business centre known particularly for sports goods, auto parts, agricultural implements, hand tools, body-building and surgical goods, ball bearings, electrical appliances, etc.

The tourist attractions of the city are many historical sites and holy places like Devi Talab resplendent with gold plates, the shrine of Vrinda Devi and Brahma Kunda, Prachin Shiva Mandir-Sannyasa Ashrama (Talab Bahrian which Adi Shankaracharya visited on his sojourn to Kashmir), Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi (commemorating the visit of the Sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind during the time of Shahjahan), the mosque of Imam Nasir-ud-Din and the Golak Nath Memorial Church made up in the shape of a cross in the Mission Compound.

Besides, Jalandhar is known for Desh Bhagat Yadgar Memorial Hall which displays portraits of prominent revolutionary leaders, sports stadia like Burlton Park, Raizada Hans Raj Stadium and Guru Gobind Singh Stadium and the studios of Doordarshan and All India Radio.

A Greek sage said that a city with over 30000 people was not worth living in. The adage is still true. Jalandhar city , which has a population of over 10 lakh people, is becoming too stuffy to live in. Many parts of it have an excrescent growth.

Unauthorised colonies, damaged roads in the interior parts, non-working sewerage system, industrial smoke, irregular water supply and worsening sanitary conditions (set right to an extent by shifting the dairies outside the city) have affected the quality of life of people. Yet Jalandhar has less industrial pollution than Ludhiana and more greenry than Amritsar and some other cities.

— The writer is the Director of the Centre of Historical Studies,
Lyallpur Khalsa College



Of idealism, education and Lyallpur
Minna Zutshi
Tribune News Service

Students coming out of Lyallpur Khalsa College
Students coming out of Lyallpur Khalsa College

THE air is redolent with idealism. Cynicism has not yet sneaked in. Education is not about pocketing degrees: it is about getting to know the ins and outs of life itself. The year is 1908; no Partition trauma to desecrate the dreams, no withering of hope to spike idealism. A nice, little dream is being nurtured at Lyallpur — the dream to educate youngsters and give them a holistic perspective on life. Soon, with the efforts of Master Tara Singh and the influence of socio-religious movements, the Khalsa High School, Lyallpur, comes into existence. Eighteen more years and the efforts of Master Tara Singh, founder-principal of the Khalsa High School, bear fruit. The school is upgraded to college. Cut to 78 years later. Idealism is a bygone story. Dreams have long been ripped apart. Education has become more or less a degree-garnering device. But the little dream to educate the youngsters and transform them into responsible persons has not died. Of course, the dream has come a long way — from Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) to Jalandhar.

Today, Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, is one of the best-known institutions not only in the Doaba region but also in the entire northern region. Spread over 28 acres, it has more than 7,800 students on its rolls, including 2,500 girls. Its location (proximity to the G.T. Road) and its orientation towards professional courses, particularly information technology and biotechnology, make it a hot favourite among career-minded youngsters. The evening shifts and the distance education courses are add-ons; they provide an element of flexibility to the students. And the college could well be a bibliophile’s haven — as its Principal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Chatha, tells us the fully-computerised library there houses more than 80,000 books on varied subjects.

It’s a familiar sight to see the students working on innovative research projects. The college already has three research centres. In fact, the NAAC team’s report on the college says, “The college has reached a stage where it deserves to be autonomous for achieving greater heights, not only in region but also in the country. Earnest efforts in this direction may be made if the college desires to become a deemed to be university in future.”

The college, right from its inception, has had quite a few illustrious alumni – theatre personality Prithviraj Kapoor, sports persons Ajit Pal Singh, Pargat Singh, singer Malkit Singh and a host of politicians, bureaucrats and academicians. “Our aim has been to develop the total personality of a student. We let the students discover things for themselves. We do not thrust rules upon them. We just let the youngsters grow and evolve with internal locus of discipline. And it works,” says Mr Chatha.

Perhaps, it’s the right mix of tradition and modernity, peppered with glorious history, which gives the college its unique identity. The writer Waryam Singh Sandhu, who is a faculty member at the college, while recounting his nostalgia-suffused visit in 2001 to the mother-college at Lyallpur, says, “The old building of the college is still intact. The Municipal Degree College is being run in that building. A plaque near the office verandah reads, ‘This piece of land for Khalsa High School, Lyallpur, is the gift of Jawand Singh of chakk number 213.’ I almost felt as if I was a part of an epoch.” Well, the starting of the Khalsa School, Lyallpur, was indeed an epoch-making event and it shows even today, nearly a century after!



An evening out... juicy gossip... and hot yummy pizza
Tribune News Service

AN evening sans a bite of yummy pizza, a bit of juicy gossip and a package of cool fun is wearisome for youngsters who love to flaunt their cosmopolitan stance. “You need something hot and hip to rev you up. It could be hot sizzling Chinese cuisine or a hot cup of cappuccino savoured at a ritzy restaurant. It’s not so much about having your grub per se as having it at the right place in the right style,” sallies Ms Manisha, a college student who frequents Model Town Market here.

A visit to a swish, classy place after a long tiring day rejuvenates you, feel young professionals Aman, Gurvinder, Yadwinder and Sunny. They frequent the eating joint “Heat 7” in the evenings. “It’s fun to be here.

The crowd is good and you can enjoy your food,” says Mr Gurvinder, taking a break from his chat-session with his pals. His friend, Mr Sunny, chips in, “May I venture to say that you get to see vibrant girls here?”

Another group of youngsters at “Headquarters” in New Jawahar Nagar echoes similar sentiments. “We go for ambience; the place where you hang out with your friends should not be a dull, dreary rat hole. It has to have certain class to it. At the same time, it should not cut a gaping hole into your pocket,” the girls reason out.

For many, particularly those in their twenties and thirties, evening hang-outs could well spill over to late- evening outings that almost sidle into late-night jaunts. Then it’s over to flashy dance floors and fast pulsating music that becomes all the more stirring after quaffing a few mugs of chilled beer or a few pegs of booze. “I love to freak out with my friends and family at Jack Daniels, Radisson Windsor,” says Mr Raghu Kakkar, a young businessman.

There are, however, some youngsters whose idea of a hang-out is simply munching a mouth-watering pizza and having long-winded talk-sessions under the canopy of the azure sky. Flamboyance is not the style of these youngsters, who, of course, are in not-so-enviable minority.



Vajra Corps’ landscaping plans in full bloom
Tribune News Service

A canopy of trees, flowers in bloom, fountains cascading to the rhythm of light breeze, and all this within the precincts of Jalandhar Cantonment. A tall order? Not if we go by the plans of the Vajra Corps to beautify the cantonment. The corps is all set to expand the green cover at the cantonment. Two more parks, roadside tree plantations and upgrading of the existing parks are on the anvil.

Landscaping of the proposed Thamayia Park has already begun near the Regal Cinema Hall. The park is expected to be ready in two months’ time. Flowerbeds are being prepared. Huge stones are being procured to be fixed around the pits for ornamental shrubs. Amaltaas and Jatranda trees are being planted around the boundary of the park and alongside the pathways. The park will also have cascades and waterfalls to provide a cool, relaxing place to nearly 280 families of army personnel.

Another yet-to-be-named park is coming up at some distance from the Vajra Vatika, near the Golf Club. This park is being constructed on the pattern of the Vajra Vatika, though it may have swings for children. It will also be open only to families of army officers; civilians will not be allowed. Brig A.N. Sharma, Sub-Area Commander, said the Vajra Corps had decided to launch a tree plantation drive under which 250 palm trees would be planted on the outskirts of the Army Environmental Park and Training Area. Saplings of 150 palm trees would be planted on the Bhim Road, he added. The drive would subsequently be extended to the Ajit Road and the Jindan Road.

Brigadier Sharma said efforts to upgrade the Sapper Park were also being made. This small park, once a major attraction for children, was overgrown with tall grass, and the swings, too, were not at their “swinging” best.

Presently, army officers and their families prefer to go to the Vajra Vatika. The park has several attractive features like waterfalls, shrubs cut out like giraffe, horse and dinosaur, swings for children, and huts fixed atop a mound. The cantonment is surely looking forward to more such vatikas.



Teeing off with a regal flourish
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Golf is becoming a passion in the city
Golf is becoming a passion in the city

SPORTING white caps and pushing their golf-kit trolleys, the high-profile officers look forward to playing the game every morning. As they tee the ball through a series of holes, they discuss the game and enjoy gossip with their pals.

Officials from the army, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Punjab Armed Forces (PAP) have their own golf courses. The cantonment has a huge 16-hole golf course at the Environmental Park and Training Area, Garha Road, with about 300 officers and civilians as its members. The BSF has a 12-hole course with more than 70 members and the PAP has the smallest 8-hole course.

The game has its distinctive charm, say the officers. It is relaxing, enjoyable and it can be played without any physical strain, as one does not need to run around. (The caddy does the job of hunting the balls and getting them back.)

The tag of playing a “rich man’s game” also has its joy. As the secretary of the BSF golf club, Mr S.S. Chatrath, says, “Only those persons who can spare Rs 20,000 to buy the kit, two hours for the game in the morning and one hour in the evening can afford to play the game. There are other expenses involved, such as memberships worth thousands of rupees, monthly subscriptions, cost of ball, money to be paid to the caddy and the trolley-puller.”

But he debunks the myth that the game is only played by elderly men. “Many young officers in their early thirties are the members of the golf club. Besides, some women, including officers’ wives, are also the club members”, the secretary said.

One of the most enjoyable times for the golfers is when they get together to dine and wine on the club premises after they have played the game. They discuss the game and gossip about the day-to-day politics of their office, making the club a very happening place. The game, they believe, has an added advantage of bringing them closer to one another.

It is not just the men from the army, the BSF or the PAP who enjoy the game; many police officials, government officials and professionals are also members of the golf clubs in Jalandhar. Since the clubs are affiliated with a number of other clubs, including those from other districts and even Golf Club of India, the officers have the advantage of enjoying the game during their deployment in Chandigarh, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur.



“I am not the one to rest on my laurels”
Minna Zutshi
Tribune News Service

HE'S simple, down-to-earth and he talks about the city without batting an eyelid. He’s Harbhajan Singh, better known as “Bhajji”. Unlike other celebrities, he won’t go ga ga over the inanities of his town. His terra firma is solid. “It’s a nice city — small and yes, beautiful,” he says spontaneously. And the people here? Well, he would rather not delve on that. We guess people everywhere are the same and Bhajji must have learnt this truth during his extensive national and international tours.

Sharing his childhood reminiscences, he says, “I was very stubborn as a child. If I wanted something, I would be determined to get it. Nothing could shake off my resolve.” His favourite pastime was plucking pears. “Once this pear-plucking pastime landed me in a hot soup. My friends and I had climbed up a tree. Two burly tailless dogs spotted us. They made it a point to keep on barking furiously till our ears ached and our heart raced. The stubborn mutts did not stop till they managed to get an audience from the owner. One thought was to stay up on the tree. But that was not possible. Another option was to run. But with two burly dogs giving us a chase, this seemed a remote possibility. So, we did the most sensible thing — apologized to the owner. It was not an easy job but our entreaties did have their effect and we were let off,” Bhajji recounts.

His philosophy of life is simple — give your best to what you do and leave the rest to God. “Success is fickle. It may come long after you aspire for it. Never be discouraged,” says this player with a sunshine philosophy. He says he has a long way to go. “Right from my childhood, my father wanted me to strive for excellence. I am happy to have made him happy. But I am not the one to rest on my laurels,” he signs off.


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