The quaint town of Fazilka near the Indo-Pak border hardly has any cafés. Known for its ex-servicemen and the Beating Retreat ceremony at its Sadqi border, the town, though, yet to develop as an urban city, still adorns its rural lifestyle. On Sunday, the first day of the New Year, the small border town will be witness to the opening of a ‘Retreat Book Café’- a tribute to Indian Army, which will enlighten the youths about the Army through its walls, interiors, collages, photographs, books and even menu cards.
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Located on Gaushala Road, the theme café based also has a customized seating area christened‘Officer’s Mess’, where the walls narrate the stories of the 1965 and 1971 war’s fought between India and Pak and also about the Sadqi Border Retreat ceremony. The text, especially focuses on the Asafwala War Memorial, built as a tribute to martyrs of the 1971 war in Fazilka sector.
Apart from this, there is a special wall hanging comprising pictures and texts about the 67 Infantry Brigade, which was moved to Fazilka on September 1,1965 war for defense of Ferozepur and Fazilka. It also continued to defend Fazilka sector in 1971 war as part of ‘F’ Sector in October 1971.
“The Beating Retreat ceremony at Wagah border in Amritsar and Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur is famous among the tourists but many people don’t know about a similar ceremony which takes place at Sadqi Border. It is on since 1988 and the border is just 15 kms from Fazilka. We have focused on this ceremony and named the café accordingly along with a collage giving out its details,” says Navdeep Asija, one of the owners.
The building, which houses the café is more than a hundred years old. “It was an old photo studio of my grandfather Des Raj ji and I decided to revamp it into a café, narrating the history of Army. Even our menu cards have informative tit bits written on it,” says Shivansh Kamra, 28, the brain behind the café.
“Having considerable population of e-servicemen, the town never had any such place where they can sit, chat and read books. Also, youths connects more with cafés than traditional libraries nowadays. The chairs, tables, walls, décor has been kept the way it was, when the two wars took place, just to maintain the ambience,” added Asija.
The menu, also has traditional recipes of Fazilka lost in time, such as jeera-soda drink , bajra (millet) dishes among others starting Rs 40. “Lots of Army men and BSF jawans visit Fazilka, thus rates have been kept nominal,” said Kamra.