While sitting in the veranda of our hut style room at the Nathia Gali Hotel, we watched and enjoyed the monkeys doing all their natural jumping, howling, playing together, doing their usual household chores (prime being catching lice in the hair of their skins or their kins) in nature.
A DISTURBED NIGHT AT UOP – REST HOUSE, BARA GALI
by Nayyar Hashmey
After having strolled twice on the Mall, I went to sip a cup of tea at the Marhaba Hotel Murree. But alas, the quality of the tea they serve now, in contrast to what they used to offer in the past, was no more there. What they offer now, is just the ordinary tasteless tea. I could not finish even a quarter of the cup & left it there. Then sitting in the open courtyard of Marhaba.I started watching people on the Mall.
My wife and daughter went to a nearby market where they sell woollies. They bought two or three warm shawls from there and after an hour or two were back to Marhaba. From there, we then walked to the Kashmir Point where our car was parked. Our driver, Abdul Latif, a former retired jawan of the Pak Army had served long time after retirement with one of our family friends, Brig (Retd.) Usman Khan Tararr.
After the demise of Brig Tararr, Latif started working with his wife, our Apa Aliya Usman Tararr, who runs many charity projects for poor & destitute women in her village Kohlu Tararr as well as adjoining villages.
Later Latif left service with the Tararrs due to his family obligations. Latif appeared to be quite adept in driving in the mountainous areas and was familiar with all such hill spots in the north of Pakistan.
We came back to our car, with Latif on the driving seat. Passed through Kuldana, Barian/Sawar Gali , Jhika Gali, Changla Gali, Kooza Gali, Dunga Gali, Khaira Gali,Nathia Gali,Kala Bagh & finally to Bara Gali where the rest house of Peshawar University Summer Camp was located.
But look, what a disappointment was waiting for us. The rooms were quite dirty, the bathroom had the blackish green layer of the algae which had covered almost half the bath room wall, the knob that pushed the water tank over the commode was broken so there was no way how to flush the refuse from the commode.
Though the UOP Summer Camp at Bara Gali (where the university’s rest house stands) was at a very picturesque location, surrounded by thick, dense jungle, the building itself is a remnant of British Raj.
The British had a small cantonment here which was occupied in the hot summer months by one of the British mountain batteries that were stationed in Rawalpindi.
The buildings were constructed like small mountain type huts in 1907 and seem to have been kept at the poor quality of living that still dates back to 1907. (This picture was originally uploaded and shared by user Zafar Hayat Khan, Habib Khel on panoramio.com).
To our misery, there was no warm water in the bath room either, so there was no question of either doing the wuzoo or a bath in such ice cold water. But qahr-e-derwesh ber jan-e-derwesh, we had no other choice. The room was smelly as well. When we told the rest house keeper, he said janab it’s a university rest house, the budget we get from the authorities is that of maintaining a jhuggi (a shanty) and you are expecting 4-star facilities from us. Any way, we told him that we will be back after having our meals.
Off we went to a khaba located in the main bazaar of Nathia Gali for chicken sajji. This place was known to us since 2011 when we came all the way from Islamabad via Abbotabad to Nathia Gali to taste this famous sajji dish in Nathia Gali. My youngest son Usama was then in the driving seat. (He is living nowadays in Sydney, Australia).
A common scene of Nathia Gali Main Bazar, where we took our breakfast. This picture is being displayed here according to Panaramio Copyright Policies.
Usama by the way is also very fond of exploring new cities, new towns and new khabas (eateries). It was he who explored this eating den for us, so on we went to this place. The quality standard of the sajji was same as before and we took the sajji to our heart’s content. Fresh baked rotis were coming from the tandoor and sajji with dahi raita was there too.
After taking our dinner with chick sajji, we went for a stroll in the bazaar and later moved around in our car to see some prominent places in Nathia Gali. It was getting dark by this time, so we moved back to the rest house. To our utter shock and amazement; the room had been delivered to some other family.
We didn’t want to disturb the family who had wrongly been allotted our room to them because of perhaps the lust for more money. On our strong protestation, the rest house keeper agreed to move the family to another room and we almost made ourselves settled into the smelly, dingy room.
The whole procedure was so annoying that we decided, now we’ll spend the night and move early in the morning for Islamabad..So the next morning, we took breakfast at an ordinary type of cheap shop. We wanted to breakfast at an eatery which was famous for their halwa poorhi, but to our dismay, it was fully occupied and there was no place to sit anywhere there.
We didn’t want to breakfast at the shop where we did, becoz it was of poor standard but since all good dining places were fully occupied, therefore, we took breakfast at that very very ordinary shop. They were serving parathas and egg omelet which was of very ordinary taste but the bill they charged from us was quite heavy.
Anyway, we took the breakfast and before leaving for Islamabad, decided to check the hotels/rest house or a guest house that will be of some chajj for us. (Word “chajj” basically is a Punjabi word and means a place which suits one’s needs). Meanwhile, just an idea flashed into my mind. I told my wife and daughter Hira, why not to try Hotel Green where we used to stay in the bygone days.
This is the room (a mountain style hut) at the Hotel where we were sitting, watching the monkeys playing on this lawn & on the roof of a room next to ours.
Both agreed with me and we started asking people where was the old British era Hotel. They said that the Hotel has been sold to some other party and now it is being run under different names. I Inquired about the old one and they directed us to drive upward on a hill. So, on we went to the old Hotel Green .
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