Sunday, April 19, 2015

Veterans meet at Nathiagali to celebrate 40th year of comradeship

Getting together for the brunch at the Governor's House, Nathiagali

The month of April is always special for us for it brings us the day when we first met - young lads in their late teens hailing from all nook and corner of the country to become friends and comrades for the rest of our lives. 17th April was the day when one of the many batches of young and spring cadets passed out from the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul in 1977. But the passing out day did not come that easy - as some 241 cadets had joined the 55 PMA Long Course in May 1975, and of these only 179 passed out two years later.

Now every year in the month of April, the veterans of 55 PMA Long Course get together in whole or part to reminisce the memories of the days spent together in the military academy and thereafter. This year the venue was Nathiagali.

Since thee are no army messes large enough to accommodate over sixty veterans and their families, Hotel Green Retreat was booked. And on 17th April, by and by the hotel started to come in life with veterans with grey hair with their spouses and children. The hotel is located almost near the top of Nathiagali, joined to the main road with a road barely enough for one way traffic with a awesome steep slope. Those who made it during the day rode up the slope with no difficulty, but those who reached Nathiagali after the last night really had a tough driving up.

Photo (above) by Zahir Khan - coaster full of Lahorites to attend the get together

While the majority of attendees were from Rawalpindi and Islamabad, a sizable contingent along with families came from Lahore to add more colour and sense of participation on this special occasion. The contingent headed by Zahir Khan included Tassawar, Alizai, Tariq Fazal and Tariq Mahmood. Javed Baloch came separately with family. 

Moving further away from Lahore, Aslam, like all previous years, came all the way from Bhawalpur, while Razaaq came from Chichawatni - this is the real spirit of the course.

The event for the 17th April was a lively dinner on the open lawn of the hotel. It was a awesome chilly evening with a very cold breeze blowing. Although arrangements had been made to have the burning woods placed in large mouthed cauldrons, it was not enough for those like me who had not catered for a chilly evening of Nathiagali.

The dinner was served right away lest it got cold in the freezing night. It was followed by a lively musical evening. Although, the fire had started to wither away, but the music kept us warm and alert. We had local performers from Abbottabad which added colours to the evening get together. 

 Some of us posing with Aitbar Khan (middle) now member National Assembly
A cup of hot tea was very much needed after the dinner to beat back the chill

The performers performing to reduce the wind-chill factor to a considerable extent 
 Some of the veterans dancing to the lively tunes - who is hiding? - none other than Alamgir!!

The evening could have gone on and on, but with fire losing its warmth and a sudden spell of load shedding made the organizers to wrap the evening for tomorrow as a slong day ahead. 

The 18th April morning was a bright sunny day - something which was much needed after last night's chilly adventure. We all got out for a breakfast in the hotel's main hall fr the lunch was still hours away.

 Say Cheese!! This is an 'on demand' photo of Kalayar

The after breakfast time gave us some time to yap around and discuss some of the burning issues, before we got back to our rooms and had some time for family snaps in the lawn of the hotel.

It was then time to pack up from the hotel and move to the lush green lawns of the Governor's House, where a hearty lunch awaited us. The venue had been courtesy Khalid Pervez Nadeem who had been the additional chief secretary of KPK and now secretary Port and Shipping in the federal government.

 The lush green lawns coming to life as we started to pour in with our families 
Photo (above) by Ali Akbar

Photos above and below shared by Mujeeb Khan

The Lahore Group (above) Photo by Saleem Saerwar
 The camera shy!!
Left to right: Tassawar - Arshad - Aslam - Jamshed - Jalal - Razzaq - Mujeeb

1975: Seven us above landed in the same platoon - but forty years ago we did not look like this as above - but as below!!

1975: This is how time changes - young lads turned into almost senior citizens as time flies by

Ever smiling Khalid Pervez with Alamgir and Shahid Ashraf
Photo (above) by Ali Akbar
Photo (above) by Saleem Sarwar

The event organization was the solo effort of our course secretary, Colonel Asif (in green T-shirt) above and below apprising us of the course activities and affairs. It was also agreed that the next course get together will be held in Lahore - something a digression from the previous trends of holding it in Islamabad, Abbottabad and nearby places as most of us have our abodes in Islamabad/Rawalpindi and for the reason that it allows others to take a break from the heat of the plains and have a refreshing stay. But this decision surely provides our comrades living in Lahore and surrounding areas to be our host next year - relieving Asif of his years long efforts for a while. The hosts in Lahore will be Zahir Khan and Javed Baloch.

The final goodbye group photo - be well everyone, God willing we shall meet in Lahore next year.

Then it was time to say goodbye and move back home. By the grace of Allah, all  have reached back safely home, carrying the beautiful memories of this great reunion at one of the best hill resorts of Pakistan. I wish health and longevity to everyone of us and look forward to meeting at Lahore next year - Insha Allah. For now, Adios my friend!!

If you like Jaho Jalal, please follow us on Facebook


Jamil said...

Great job Jalal, you always take the lead being the official Historian and and an amazing photographer of 55th PMA. You made my day very pleasent by sharing the lovely tour of Nathiagali Get Together.
I have enjoyed all write ups and each and every photograph with detailed description, well done.
Its always a happy moment to see my friends, course mates and brothers smiling, dancing and chanting and remembering the golden times we all spent together in the last 41 years.
May Allah bless you and all the 55th.
A big THANKS for my friend Asif, Khalid Pervez and others who manged and organized such a Mega Event.
May God Bless you all.

Sheikh Tahir said...

An excellent coverage of the g2g. I
.I missed it because of my leg fracture.Wish it continues with the same spirit in 55 family.Thanks a
lot for putting it here Jalal.

Syed Ali Baqar said...

Four decades of association (1975-2015), JHB and excellent coverage. I cannot recall any moment of the Day-2 being missed in this coverage. Thanks once again.