Ludhiana is a bustling industrial town of Punjab and like all industrial towns, it’s cosmopolitan, well connected , congested and not too clean. I read sometimes ago that the the city had the distinction of having the largest number of Mercedes Benz sedans in the country ! The city has, like any other developing city in India, metamorphosed into a bigger and posher city with restaurants serving global cuisines and swanky malls and buildings. However, there is one fixture that has survived the change. It’s Prince Hostel, a preferred abode for all bachelors coming to Ludhiana either for studies or first jobs.
I was resident there for about 3 months way back in 1986. It was the time when Punjab was in the throes of terrorism and Ludhiana was as susceptible to terrorist attacks as any other city in Punjab. In such a scenario, Prince Hostel was a safe haven that also served homely food. Sunday lunch menu was special and their rajma chawal were something to die for. Paranthas in the morning and healthy two course dinner were most satisfying. However, what must be stated here is that it was a bachelors’ Hostel and not a den, as the owner ensured strict discipline. Liquor was strict no no and there was time fixed to return to your rooms, unless there was a very specific reason for returning late. The parents, guardians and spouses were thus assured of their people being safe, disciplined and being taken good care of. It was, therefore, a home away from home- affordable, clean, safe, well located, with all the basic amenities available.
The trigger for this blog was received from a respected senior, Mr Malik, who incidentally was posted in Ludhiana during that period and to whom I reported. He was the one who had suggested me to stay at Prince Hostel and due to my stay at Prince Hostel and his guardianship, my brief stay of around 3.5 months remains a memorable episode of my life. Just couple of days back, he was in Ludhiana and when he passed by Prince Hostel, he especially stopped there, clicked a picture and send the same to me. It brought back all the memories of that happy phase of my life.