Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society


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The following story was told me by Tumble back in the 1970s on the evening of the day it occurred. He remembers it well for he narrated it in Mangla again some years ago

Year 1974, Tumble (Javed Alam Khan), the youngest of the Alam Khan brothers, was a captain with 24 Cavalry and Brigadier Zahir Alam, the eldest, was commanding a brigade in the same division, that is, 6 Armoured Division in Kharian. Tumble narrates that he was over for lunch with his brother and they are sitting down with the lady of the house eating when she narrated.

She had earlier that day been at the CMH for a urine analysis. There she met up with three other young army wives who were there for the same purpose. So they sat in the Ladies Waiting Room to be called in by the laboratory man. Now, for some peculiar reason, the way to the officers’ toilet was through the ladies’ waiting room. (It is no longer that way now).

Mrs ZAK narrated that a young armoured corps lieutenant in a black overall (that’s how she knew he was AC) walked in and regarded the three women holding out their beakers full of yellow piss. ‘Cheers!’ said the man before walking away to the loo.

When ZA heard the tale, he actually fell off the chair laughing.

PS. The next day, ZA asked all armoured corps officers who had exhibited that fine example of wit. Now, the Alam Khan brothers are no ordinary men. They are all good people, the typical public school types. ZA wanted to commend the youngster for his ready humour. No one owned up. Not one lieutenant stood up. What made me very sad when Tumble narrated the episode back then was that the youngster did not know his commander. He did not know one of the best men and one of the greatest officers the army had produced.

Related: Living with one of those Alam brothers

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 21 October 2013 at 12:31, Anonymous From Facebook said...

Zkk Khattak

Excellent. I am sure it is true. Gen Tumble bet his month's pay over something in a GSP with a Captain (Ali Ejaz Rafi) and asked him to show him the book the next day. Gen Tumble lost and sent him the Cheque on the first of the following month.

Waris Kamal

I had the honor of knowing them all, less shamim alam , right upto the last one in army . And u bet there is a whole book of jokes like that

Zuha Saeed

I had d pleasure of being gen shamim's G-3 at d CGS sectt,and then his ADC wen he ws d CJCSC..knew all d brothers less d 2 shaheeds..d pers who deserves d real tribute ws their MOTHER who trained them to be wat they eventually became..ALL wer icons in their fields..

Shafqat Chatha

ZA was my commander in kharian those days kamal.i fully agree with ur remarks.i some times ponder as to where all such like people have gone....??and there were many many more like this those brig javed(micham)...rafi alam.....long list.

Yawar Habib


Rauf Ahmed Khan

It was a pleasure to serve under (late FA) Feroze Alam during the '71 war. May ALLAH bless his brave n noble soul, ameen.

At 21 October 2013 at 12:47, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Gentlemen, the Alam Khan brothers were/are all good people. To know them was an honour. To be friends with even one a greater honour and boundless pleasure.

At 21 October 2013 at 15:51, Anonymous Omar Chaudhry said...

I had the pleasure of knowing the Alam brood, and the proud privilege of serving alongside some of them; one seldom comes across a finer band of soldiers & human beings! It has been an honour to count them amongst my role models & friends; thank you for making my life richer!!

At 21 October 2013 at 16:44, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Omar Chaudhry, many of us were fortunate to know this merry band. The tragedy is so many will not know them and be able to emulate them.

At 21 October 2013 at 18:40, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you will never loosen up. Good to get out of deep and thick history once in a while. Loved this. .

At 21 October 2013 at 18:42, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 21 October 2013 at 19:45, Blogger Arshad Ansari said...

Had the honour of serving with Gen Javed Alam in C&SC in 89/90, I was DQ and he was a DS....never demanding...always forthcoming to help us young officers. Had a unique way of telling Jokes....serious faced! God bless him

At 22 October 2013 at 00:14, Blogger Nayyar Julian said...

Cheers sir.

At 22 October 2013 at 10:24, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Anonymous, I am human, after all, aren't I? I've got other racier jokes. All unprintable, though.

At 22 October 2013 at 10:25, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Arshad Ansari, You have been a fortunate man. Cheers!

At 22 October 2013 at 12:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why was Javed Alam Khan called Tumble? Any story behind it?

At 22 October 2013 at 13:09, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

By JAK's own account, he, Ejaz (13 Lancers, died Bara Pind Dec '71) and, I think, Shuaib (PAF) were at the same time at Lawrence College. Their fav food was egg rumble-tumble. They overdid it so much that they came to be known as Tumbles, all three of them. Legend has it that even they themselves greeted each other 'Hi Tumble,' 'Hi Tumble.' As they say, 'Darogh ba gardan e Ravi.'

At 22 October 2013 at 20:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Humour seems to have gone out of uniform. Good old days.

At 23 October 2013 at 15:56, Anonymous Omar Chaudhry said...

Since the order of March was Zahir, Feroz, Shoaib, Shamim, Shamoon, Aftab, Mushtaq, Ejaz & Javed, the three brothers together at GG most probably were the three youngest - Mushtaq (PAF, killed in an F-6 accident in '67), Ejaz (13L, Shaheed in the '71 war) & Javed. Their nickname may also be reflective of their somewhat rotund facial shape (please note that I have made no comment on JAK's impressive physique)!!

At 23 October 2013 at 17:01, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Myself and Brig Saad has the honor of costing one month's pay in 1974 on our joining the SPEARHEADS. Tumble still remembers that and now he owes me BLUE..........................

At 24 October 2013 at 06:01, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Omar Chaudhry, for the correct order of march, pl refer to Brig ZA's "The Way it Was". My mistake: it would have been Aftab, not Shuaib.But we could always refer to Tumble for the last word.

At 24 October 2013 at 23:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khak main keya sooratain hon gee jo pinhan ho gaeen.

At 25 October 2013 at 09:27, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Anonymous, so true Mirza Ghalib. When I finished reading The Way it Was (Brig ZAK) in 2005, I inscribed this full couplet on the last page.

At 28 November 2013 at 07:46, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aap ke blog se mutasser ho ker, i have written an article in Uru. if you go me your email address i can send it to you.Sabuha Khan (mrs shuaib Alam)


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

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