Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mangla 17th April 2011 - On the Invitation of a Three Star

So finally it was here - the responsibility of a annual get together fell on the shoulders of a three stars - an invitation to the course to Army Water Sports Club, Mangla by Lt Gen Tariq Khan. Mangla being centrally located between Islamabad and Lahore, attracted eighty officers and their families, and their families. Approximately there were over 250 all inclusive who had made the 2011 course get together the largest in volume and attendance till date. Many had reached Mangla a day earlier, while others came directly to the venue on 17th April 2011 - the day of our actual commissioning into the army.

The special feature of the event this year was that the venue were three big rafts (including one mess raft) that took all of us deep inside the lake. Mangla is the only place in Pakistan where one can enjoy this luxury and for many this would have their first ever opportunity to have boarded a raft. 

The gathering of course mates started at Mangla garrison a day prior to the mega event as some 20 officers and their families from Lahore and Islamabad reached Mangla on 16th April. In the evening they all got together at the garrison Officers' Mess for a well laid out dinner as Tariq Fazal in his e-mail recalls. He writes, "Dinner with a rich menu was awaiting those who arrived Mangla on Saturday at Garrison Officers' Mess, about 20 officers attended along with their families. Only two pictures are available in my camera. Abid Qadri took couple of snaps with his camera, maybe he can send them over to you."

Besides course mates pictured above and others, Abdur Rehman, Mujeeb from Islamabad, and Iqbal and Abbas from Lahore too have arrived.

On 17th April, all roads led to the Army Water Sports Club. Most of the course mates reached directly to the venue as Mangla is within easy reach from Lahore and Islamabad. Abid Qadri and Aslam came from as far away as Bhawalpur. Due to unprecedented low water level in the reservoir, all of us had to go down perhaps 150-200 feet down to get aboard the rafts. 

One raft with the red roof was reserved for the officers and the lady wives  - while the other with a green roof was exclusively for the children . The red roof raft finally was joined together with the mess raft later when we had gone well deep inside the lake. The children's raft was self sufficient in lunch and refreshments and thus stayed separately. Due to late melting of the snow and on going rains, the water of the lake was at its lowest limits and extremely muddy, otherwise at this time the lake is filled up with deep blue clear water.

 The Generals' View Point - others listen
 This group photo was to be Khalid-4 / Tariq-1 exclusive - but one cannot stop intruders

 A hearty laugh from Maqsood made their platoon group photo with Tariq Khan lively 

Following are the photos taken soon after the lunch was over and everyone sat around the dinning tables for informal chat, reminiscing the old memories. The biggest crowd was around Alamgir as can be seen two photos below.

 Listening to Alamgir's jokes and someone's secrets let out 
  Almagir finally makes the move and makes Lt Gen Salim Nawaz all laughs as well others

 Ghazanfar much releived after hosting two consecutive get togethers of 2008-2009 at Abbottabad


 Shirazi seems very happy after breaking shackles that have tied him to Lahore 


After the lunch, the mess raft detached and we headed back to the lakeshore for the "official briefing" by the course secretary.

The course secretary Colonel Asif asked Farooq to come on the stage for offering "fateha and dua" for the deceased father of Tariq Khan, who recently expired and all of our comrades that have since died and their relative and near and dear ones. Thereafter the accounts statement was read and everyone was asked to contribute to the course fund and for the family of Jamshed. 

And when FS Tony is around, there has to be a final hulla gulla. And who can stop him from overpowering the stage secretary and cling to the stage till light connections are disconnected. SO there he was on the stage with his typical songs and heart warming giggles. Tassawar also rose and had a song for us, followed by daughter of Tony. The show ended with a folk song by a local singer.

The get together ended with a happy note and from an encouraging offer by Tariq Khan to hold mini gatherings at Mangla as long as he is there. These may be held quarterly or six monthly basis and would continue to provide an opportunity for all those who can make to Mangla often to keep meeting each other and enjoy Tariq Khan's hospitality as it was extended this year.

Karachi Chapter is arranging this year's gathering on 20th April at 8:00 pm at the Creek Club. Wasif and Zahir are making arrangements with Zaheer as the chief guest. So have a good day on 20th Karachites and send me photos of your smiling faces to be shared by the rest of the course mates.