three levels. The lowest, priced at two rupees, offered a vegetable, a lamb curry, and ricecooked with butter (ghee). The most expensive dish priced at five rupees —pompouslycalled Sultani Lunch—offered a shami kabab, a chicken curry, a lamb curry, rice and apudding. My friend Shafiq was a frequent patron of this eatery.Shezan Oriental was slightly more expensive, and it was patronized by the intellectuals of Lahore (poets, college professors among them). It had a long menu, all very appetizing.Our special focus was always on getting some rice (again cooked in butter), and somecurry. The lassi of Shezan was out of this world.The fancy restaurants of our time that period, however, were all located in Upper Mall Road.The names that immediately come to my mind are Shezan Continental, Gardenia, andLords, which catered to a more wealthy and deep pocketed clientele. All the restaurantswere air conditioned, and very elegantly furnished. The food was a mix of continental andPakistani cuisines. It is not that we did not set foot in those upscale digs. Once in twomonths or so we would visit one of these establishments and blow away about a quarter of our monthly allowance indulging in the extravagance. Shezan Continental had its specialtysandwiches and its signature soft drink--house made fresh lime. Sometimes we wouldorder only a glass of chilled fresh lime (costing only a rupee), and hold on to it for an hourof air conditioned comfort. Gardenia was more expensive, and I think we went there onlytwice. Food was mainly continental, with eye popping prices. Lords was a tea time favoriteof Lahore intellectuals. The most notable among the accompaniment for tea there was itsconfectionery that included various pastries, and patties of chicken or lamb.This tribute to Lahore eateries would not be complete without paying homage to the TuckShop (food stall) in the backyard of our Hostel in the New Campus near Ravi canal. CalledShezan Sentimental by my friend Shafiq, the place was run by a father and son fromPeshawar. This was the only place for breakfast or snacks within a mile of our newlyconstructed hostels. A typical breakfast was an egg omelet spiced with onions and red chilipepper, buns, and tea that had been brewing in open fire for hours along with thick buffalomilk. Considering the price and the value it offered for money the Tuck shop was a godsendto us that time.Much, much later in early nineties in a visit to Lahore I tried to locate the eateries of ouruniversity days there. Most had disappeared including the famous Shezan Continental andthe pricey Gardenia. There was no trace of the less expensive digs in Lower Mall that wehad frequented either. And gone of course was the Khan Family Tuck Shop—which actuallywas originally built to feed the construction workers of the New Campus!! The food streetwas intact, however, and it had more vendors than our time, with kababs galore. Butsomehow I missed our Rachna, Cheney’s Lunch Home, and of course the dirty dishes of theKhans.
Ziauddin Choudhury is a frequent contributor to the Forum Magazine and Daily Star Op-Ed page. He lives and works for an international organization in the USA.