Saturday, Aug 13, 2022
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On An Ancestral Trek

A Punjabi adage: one who hasn't seen Lahore hasn't been born. A birthday boy's account.

On An Ancestral Trek On An Ancestral Trek

As I looked up the scroll of medallists (1922-1945) at the Veterinary College in Lahore, Punjab, I found the name I was looking for. Mela Ram Sharma. My paternal grand-uncle and a gold-medallist, 1925 alumnus. He is no longer in this world, Lahore is no longer in India and the college has been elevated to the status of a university. The vice-chancellor, principal and his colleagues helped me spot his name out. And there were flashes of cameras around to record that moment of ours looking momentarily into the eyes of history.

Then I discovered one Mela Ram Road in Lahore, close to the legendary Anarkali Bazaar near Bhatti Gate. If you think it was named after my grand-uncle, then you are deceived. It was named after the great 19th century elite Rai Bahadur Mela Ram who owned a spacious haveli in that locality. His son Rai Bahadur Ram Saran Dass, a great patron of the arts, celebrated all major Hindu, Muslim and Sikh festivals with great fanfare at his bungalow. The illustrious list of invitees included Allama Iqbal, Sir Abdul Qadir, Raja Narindranath, Sikandar Hayat Khan and Sardar Joginder Singh. Rai Bahadur Mela Ram was one of the key contractors when the Lahore-Amritsar railway was being laid out in 1880.

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