Lush green placid lawns, acres of space, rows upon rows of trees, a majestic building in the center, a few monuments; that’s what makes Frere Hall stand out in the so many remnants of the British Raj. The building itself was constructed somewhere in 1860’s. It’s a beautiful place to spend any day of the month. In the mornings you are sure to find men and women jogging or walking, in the afternoon a few couples busy talking their troubles under the shade of trees and in the evenings the place is full of kids playing cricket and football, hobbyists clicking their cameras, hawkers selling Pani Puri, Chanay, Chaat or even Ice Cream. The place is serene and full of activity, often. It can be approached from Abdullah Haroon Road as well as from Fatimah Jinnah Road. The adjoining lawns were named as Bagh-e-Jinnah after independence.
The gardens around it are dotted with benches and sitting areas. One can see families picnicking in the gardens on Sundays and holidays. I have been told there is library somewhere in the lower floor and an art gallery which I still have to explore. The lawns are connected with walkways and there is road which leads to the main building from either approach.
On Sundays there is an old Books Bazaar in the space between the main building and lawns when coming form the Fatimah Jinnah Road. They do showcase a good collection of used books both, pirated and original. A pirated will cost you less money while an original almost double of that. One can find anything and everything from Zubaida Apa’s cooking recipes, to Women’s magazines, books for kids, young and old. I saw many uncles, aunties and would be aunties some scouring the heaps slowly while others rummaging. The book sellers know their job and even recognize you after a few visits with a nod or a smile.
There’s children playing cricket and football in the lawns, old men trying to jog and young lads trying to walk. A couple or two you can find huddled together under a tree or on a bench, so close that even air can’t pass in between them, ostensibly lost in conversation over matters more serious than the those affecting the world’s existence.
If you feel thirsty you can find a few hawkers selling ice cream and other tidbits. The Papars (Desi Crackers) I found to be very tasty. Got myself a couple of them and laying down on a lawn, started munching them while gazing at the passing clouds. What an awesome sight it was, as if the sky itself was on the move.
A couple of hours spent in sublimity put me in a state of temporary trance one which was disturbed by a cricket ball striking me somewhere on the leg. Got up and walked towards the Abdullah Haroon Road only to find a lonely Victoria wallah offering me ride for Rs. 300. Hopped on to it for a lovely 15 minutes ride that left me feeling like a soldier in the British Raj times, on an out pass from his regimental abode.
Next time, I am taking my kids along.