Archive for May, 2013

Gwalior Ki Gayaki: A Tribute to the Late Ustad Ahmed Ali Khan

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Sunday, 2nd June 2013 | 7:00 pm

Join us at T2F for an evening of eastern classical music as Karam Abbas, Waseem Abbas and Yousuf Kerai pay tribute to the late Ustad Ahmed Ali Khan.

Karam AbbasKaram Abbas Khan and Waseem Abbas Khan belong to the Gwalior gharana, famous for its repertoire of khayal singing. Sons of the late Ustad Ahmed Ali Khan and grandsons of Ustad Umeed Ali Khan, both classical vocalists of great renown.

Karam and Waseem are committed to continuing their family legacy and finding ways in which to experiment with merging their techniques and styles with contemporary musical forms. Karam was awarded the Nigar Filmi Award in 2002 and was nominated for PTV’s Best Classical Singer Award in 1997. He released a ghazal album, produced in collaboration with the late songbird of Pakistan, Mehnaz, in the year 2000. Karam worked with a fusion band called Garaj in 2005 and has had the honor of performing at the Royal Albert Hall in London that same year. His most recent tour was in the USA in the year 2010. Karam has now shifted his focus to grooming his younger brother Waseem, who is proving to be a promising vocalist in his own right.

The musical performance, featuring Karam and Waseem Abbas on vocals and Yousuf Kerai on tabla, will be preceded by a lecture-demo elucidating the art of khayal singing and the Gwalior style.

Date: Sunday, 2nd June, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm
Entry: Rs. 300
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

art=(love)² – A Film by Mumtaz Hussain

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Saturday, 1st June 2013 | 7:00 pm

Dean and Isabella are the quintessential New York City couple. Isabella provides passion and inspiration for Dean’s large and colorful canvases. A mathematics undergraduate at Columbia University, Isabella lives in a vivid world of geometrical shapes and symmetry. Their relationship is unique, a merger between shapes and color. When Isabella dies mysteriously, Dean consumes himself with trying to figure out what happened. He circumvents the police and friends and chooses a path of creative madness.

Running Time: 90 minutes
Language: English

The screening of art=(love)² will be followed by a conversation with Mumtaz Hussain.


About the Filmmaker

Mumtaz Hussain is an artist, director, producer and writer. A graduate of National College of Arts, Lahore, he has studied European art forms in London and graphic design and filmmaking in New York. He has worked at Simon & Schuster, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren as an art director. Mumtaz has written short stories in Urdu and English and has completed a series of films, including Soul of Civilization which was screened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Date: Saturday, 1st June, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm
Suggested Donation: Anything you like. Please support our vision of intellectual poverty alleviation by donating generously.
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

Philosophy 101: Aristotle’s Conception of the Good Life

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Friday, 31st May 2013 | 7:00 pm

Join us at T2F for an introduction to the ancient Greek scholar, teacher, and philosopher, Aristole and his theory of the good life.

Philosophy 101This edition of Philosophy 101 will begin with a brief overview of Aristotle’s background and his most important ideas, including well-being, the good life, the ideal society, balance, the structure of the world, and contemplation. When Aristotle speaks of the good life as the happy life, he does not merely refer to happiness, amusement, or contentment. Our speaker for the evening, Anthony Galli, will discuss popular conceptions of pleasure, wealth, honor, and virtue and Aristotle’s reasoning about how humans can live ‘the good life’.

Anthony Galli
Anthony has a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Central Connecticut State University and has taken several philosophy courses, in addition to independent study. He has worked in the fields of social service, teaching, and media. He is a musician and part-time actor.

Date: Friday, 31st May, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm
Suggested Donation: Anything you like. Please support our vision of intellectual poverty alleviation by donating generously.
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


June 2014


May 2014


April 2014


March 2014


February 2014


January 2014


December 2013


November 2013


October 2013


September 2013


August 2013


July 2013


June 2013


May 2013


April 2013


March 2013


February 2013


January 2013

The First Writers’ Meetup at T2F

Monday, May 20th, 2013

written by Sadia Khatri

The conference room turned out to be too cramped; we were thrilled. Najia [Sabahat Khan] and I had been expecting a few people to show up — five to six at most — having done minimal advertising for the event. But with continuous knocks and peeks through the door, people kept filing in. One man barged in to realize he was in the wrong place, looked around wordlessly, and left. We were disappointed, but half an hour into the session sixteen faces sat around the table, firmly holding on to their printed works of poetry, fiction, non-fiction or their iPads.

Introductions revealed that we were in the company of accountants, students (finance, film, writing, medicine), moms, and also full time writers. Here is the thing: there are serious writers everywhere, looking to be published or improve their skills. Literature festivals do a great job of exposing the writing community, but don’t really foster the community in a sustainable way. To be fair, it isn’t their job to do that. The idea behind Writers’ Meetups was to create a space where seasoned and amateur writers could freely walk in and out to share their work and learn from each other’s expertise.

Big plans. How would we do this? We asked everyone to first read aloud sections from their work. A few lines of poetry, a paragraph or two of fiction. The air in the room was bated; who would go first? Everyone eventually took the plunge. I explained that we were trying to get all voices in the room, to gather a feel of what kind of writing we did. But it was more than that. If you’ve heard poets’ recitations of their work, you will know that no one else can do their work the same justice. Reading your work aloud is an exercise in ownership, confidence, and instilling intimacy into the words you write so that is meaningful for someone meeting it the first time.

The room had a lot to offer. I was personally expecting a lot of politically themed work, but aside from a few such pieces, the writing spanned a range of topics. Maliha Ali read out a particularly memorable Urdu poem, ‘Aik Mülk Tha’:

Aik mülk tha
Jo bas müsalsal shaam hee mayñ atkaa hüa tha
Aik masnüee sooraj bhi laa khaRaa kar diya
Magar voh bhi bujh gayaa
Logoñ ke ghar kee mo’m bhi jal kar khatm ho gayi
Inqilabi jalsoñ mayñ cheekh cheekh kay galay bhi kharaab ho gaye
Tou logoñ nay bolna hee chhoR diya

Hers was one of the two pieces in Urdu. The rest were in English: works on personal history (one from a woman working on a memoir), novellas and anthologies in progress, short stories in the pipeline for writing competitions, blog posts from years ago. They spoke of relationships, identity, freedom, magic, old Karachi, rooftops and love.

For the critiques — the main part of the session — we split people up in groups of two and three. In half an hour, they did a close reading of each other’s pieces, delving into the technicalities of writing. On a whiteboard we had hastily scribbled starting guidelines, asking people to identify, at the least, one strength and one weakness in their partner’s work.

There is a culture of skirting around criticism, especially among younger people. Reaching out to friends with your creative efforts means getting encouragement that is blind enthusiasm. Outside institutional pedagogies, new writers don’t really have a space to get constructive feedback and grow creatively. Desi Writers Lounge is an excellent project in this regard, but with the meetups, I was thinking of something that would be more real-time.

Couple that with the increasing number of writers I was running into everywhere, I thought these meetups could be a realistic, sustainable new project. Meanwhile a few friends in Lahore and I had just founded a new arts and literature society called Open Letters. These meetups, we thought, could be a meaningful new project in line with the society’s philosophy of creating a circuit of regular writing-related activities. After talking to Sabeen, Najia and the Open Letters team, the first meetup was scheduled. And now, here were people, discussing why their poetry lacked flow, or why their fictitious characters had depth.

Post-meetup feedback convinced me that this project has potential and that people would follow up. For now, we hope it becomes a sustainable space where writers can keep bringing their work to the same audience, and grow with continuous feedback from a tried community. Aside from networking, which will be a direct result of these gatherings, a culture of critiquing can really be fostered. There is room to further define the purpose of these meetups, something I am sure will happen with time; people have already suggested writing activities, guest talks.

In the meantime, another meetup is in the pipeline in Lahore, under the Open Letters society. I am convinced now that all it takes is an initiative for something you think is lacking, and people will respond. After the first success, you are almost forced to wonder why you didn’t do it before.

The Writer Inside: Becoming Bolder With the Pen

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Open Letters and T2F present a workshop on the basics of fiction writing.

Open Letters SocietyIf you are interested in writing fiction, this workshop will help you to start thinking and reading like a writer. The workshop comprises short assignments, readings of short stories, discussions about the key elements of powerful story-telling, and critiques of original works of fiction submitted by participants.

About the Instructors

Amna Chaudhry is a founding member of Open Letters and a student of literature at LUMS. She has helped conduct fiction writing workshops in Lahore at The Knowledge Factory.

Ovais Munshi is a LUMS graduate, who has helped conduct several fiction writing workshops at LUMS.

Please submit a writing sample to by 24th May, 2013. The short list of participants, selected on the basis of aptitude, will be announced before June.

About Open Letters

Open Letters is a society of young, creatively driven men and women who believe that the arts need to be given more importance in Pakistan. They feel that critical views on art and culture need to be integrated within the country’s social institutions and take a more central role in shaping public discourse.

When: Wednesdays (6:00 – 8:00 pm) & Saturdays (1:00 – 3:00 pm)
Starting Date: Saturday, 1st June, 2013
Where: T2F Meeting Studio
Fee: Rs. 4,000 for 8 classes (payable in advance)
Registration: | 0332-201-1174
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

Some Thoughts and Thank You’s on T2F’s 6th Birthday

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

T2F 1.0Today is T2F’s 6th birthday. It’s been an incredible journey replete with trauma and struggles but copious amounts of joy and fulfilment. PeaceNiche, a tiny not-for-profit venture, began in 2007 with Rs. 10 lacs sent by my mamoo for my nani’s medical fund. I took the money and ran but paid a heavy price over the next 2 years, as my nani was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo a quadruple bypass. From 2007 to 2010, I maxed out 7 credit cards, took loans to pay off loans, didn’t earn a penny from PeaceNiche, worked nights on design/tech projects to pay my bills, and was accused of all kinds of things by nay-sayers. Sleeping barely 2-3 hours a night for several years, fretting endlessly about meeting payroll and managing cashflow took its toll and caused a near nervous breakdown. However, each time we were on the verge of closure, something good would happen and we’d scrape through, by the skin of our teeth. In 2010, the Open Society Foundation decided to give us a grant and they’ve been good to us ever since. We’ll be back on very sketchy ground at the end of the year but we’re working on a plan. Much of this financial trauma is due to my pig-headedness and upbringing. It doesn’t *have* to be *this* hard but I’m a victim of mad ideas instilled at a young age. I’ll just lean on good old Buckminster Fuller who said, “you have to decide whether you want to make money or make sense, because the two are mutually exclusive.” 😀

And now for the good stuff and a lot of thank you’s.

Behind the Orange WallI have met hundreds of intelligent, kind, inspirational people willing to share their time, skills, energy, and enthusiasm. I’ve had the opportunity to give and take. I now have new teachers, the likes of which I never had at school or college and am able to learn something new every day. This broken city is full of promise if you learn to love it for what it is. To have had the opportunity to create something in Karachi that has made a few people happy is more than I could ever have dreamt of.

Our Founding Board members believed in the early vision and got their hands dirty. Thank you so much for all your support over the years. To our newly inducted board members, thank you for validating our work and coming aboard to steer us towards sustainability and greater impact.

PeaceNiche is powered by the most incredible co-workers, interns, and volunteers anyone could ever hope to have. Some of us have been together since our inception and I can’t thank each of you enough for being part of the journey and for not running away during the dark days.

Ardeshir and a Kid Playing ChessTo every single artist, designer, photographer, musician, writer, poet, dancer, actor, performer, thinker, doctor, techie, activist, and human being who has been part of our programming, thank you for your generosity and goodwill and for entertaining and educating us for 6 years, without asking for anything in return.

To everyone who comes to our events, meetups and workshops, to every customer who has ever bought a coffee or a sandwich or a painting, to every single person who hasn’t ignored the suggested donation messages, you make this insane dream work. We generate 50% of our operating budget thanks to you. We want to take that figure to 100% so that we can be fully community supported. Thank you for your patronage. Please keep coming and help us become independent.

I am humbled by the organizations and individuals who have donated services, time, and money over the years. Your appreciation of our work gives us the courage to keep going and no amount has been too small. To each of you who have considered the liberal arts important enough to support in a country where charity is given to other causes, I cannot thank you enough.

Finally, to my first teacher and eternal source of strength and values, my mother, Mahenaz Mahmud, thank you for being who you are, for letting me run amok, for never second-guessing, for giving me the space and time to figure things out, and for being a monumentally supportive parent. To Zak, my second teacher and mentor, thank you for introducing me to the Macintosh computer in 1989, for pushing me to take risks, for teaching me to ignore the bozos, and for everything in between.

With much respect, love, and wishes for peace, I hope we all stay connected and continue to work together to transform Karachi.

In solidarity!
Sabeen Mahmud

PeaceNiche Tree

Code for Pakistan: Civic Meetup Karachi 01

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Saturday, 18th May 2013 | 6:00 pm

Calling all civic-minded geeks! Come apply your geek or creative skills to transforming your city for the better!

We need to start thinking differently about public service and the institution of government if we want to make a change. Around the world, civic hackers are building open source solutions that enable city governments to be more open, efficient, and in tune with the needs of citizens. This first meetup follows up on the launch of Pakistan’s first Civic Hackathon, which brought together developers, designers, urban mappers, data analysts, and problem solvers to create web and mobile solutions to Pakistan’s civic problems.

We’re bringing together a peace corps of geeks for civic betterment. Join us at T2F to discuss how your tech, creative, and problem solving skills can come together to transform your city.

Civic Meetup Karachi

Date: Saturday, 18th May, 2013
Time: 6:00 pm
Suggested Donation: Anything you like. Please support our vision of intellectual poverty alleviation by donating generously.
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

Adventures of the Lost Boy: An Evening with Usman Riaz

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Friday, 17th May 2013 | 7:00 pm

Usman RiazJoin us at T2F for an evening with percussive guitarist, Usman Riaz who will perform music from ‘Circus in the Sky’, screen his film ‘Ruckus’ and also share updates about his new projects.

TEDGlobal Fellow Usman Riaz is a young Pakistani musician making a worldwide mark with his astonishing and fun-to-listen-to technique. Influenced by percussive guitarists who move beyond strumming to striking, treating their fretboard like the soundboard of a piano, Usman makes a sound that feels larger than the instrument itself, with a compelling pattern of repetition and variation that harkens to mystical music traditions. In 2011, a viral video for his song ‘Fire Fly’ helped bring his sound from the Pakistani music community to a global audience. He is now collaborating with other musicians in Pakistan and working on a new album of original music.

Adventures of the Lost Boy

Date: Friday, 17th May, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm
Entry: Rs. 300
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

Rebel Angel: A Tribute to Asim Butt

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

I read out this tribute at the opening of Asim’s retrospective at the Mohatta Palace in May 2011.
Sabeen Mahmud

When I was setting up The Second Floor, I didn’t want mundane paintings or posters on the walls. Someone, and I just can’t remember who it was, but THANK YOU, suggested I meet this mad chap, Asim Butt who had been running around painting elaborate murals outside mazaars. I called him and requested an appointment. When I got there, we both said, “Oh, it’s you!” We had met earlier but had never spoken. This was in March 2007.

I explained the idea of T2F to Asim and he got excited but he was skeptical. Zak and I were able to convince him to do a mural for us and he brought out his sketch book and started talking animatedly about a concept he was working on. He said it would take 3 months to complete and I said, but, we’re opening on the 15th of May and now that we’ve had this discussion, this just has to happen. So he said, these things take time and let me give you a painting to hang on the wall and I said NO, why don’t you just start scribbling something on the wall and we can say it’s a work in progress and it’s under construction and you can keep working on it, even after we open. He was noncommittal.

The next day, Asim came to see the space. I will never forget how he jumped up and down and clapped his hands gleefully. He was like a child – pure and uninhibited. I imagine the sight of those empty walls drove him into a state of ecstasy. He asked for the keys so he could work nights. Each morning, we’d come to work, and Asim would have encroached, just a little more into areas he was not supposed to touch. He’d then jump up and down and talk our ears off about what he’d added and why. Sometimes, he’d drive us to distraction. He threw a fit one day and demanded that the speaker wires be removed because they were getting in the way of a puff of smoke that he’d painted just below the ceiling. I was exasperated and wanted to murder him.

Thanks to Asim’s boundless energy, the mural was completed before we opened our doors, and it became an intrinsic part of T2F’s identity. Losing our original space meant losing Asim’s mural and to this day, I have weeping fits. It was heartbreaking walking out of that space for the last time.

Class by Asim

In 2008, Tehelka had an India-Pakistan summit in London and asked us to suggest Pakistani artists. We suggested Asim Butt, amongst others and I got an insight into Asim’s manic attention to detail and dedication to perfection. He just wouldn’t let go of that canvas despite the fact that the packers went to his house twice and the rest of the shipment was being held up because of him. Finally, I had to threaten him and then he grudgingly handed it over.

Another cherished experience with Asim was just after Pervez Musharraf’s ’emergency’. A group called the People’s Resistance was formed and Asim, myself and a bunch of younger people created the naujawan wing of PR – to keep ourselves sane and cope with the old left. Asim suggested that we call ourselves SOS – Subversive Operation Services and we became the art, design, graffiti, media, and technology service providers for PR. It was at this time that Asim created the Eject and Loop symbols and we would gather at T2F where he’d teach us how to make stencils, then we’d go buy spray paint, and let loose on the walls of Karachi. We had many escapades, encounters, and narrow escapes during our flash protests. Eventually, Asim got fed up with the lack of clarity and focus and left PR.

I’d just also like to clarify that it was not Asim Butt who made the I ♥ KHI graffiti. Asim’s graffiti was intelligent, funny, satirical, political – and dangerous.

When T2F shifted to its new location, Asim came bounding in one day and fell in love with the new mural painted by two A-Level students. He sat there for hours marveling at the quality of work and went on and on about how much he liked it. One day, he was sitting on top of a table admiring the painting and someone, whom we didn’t know, came in and stood by us. By now, Asim was delivering an academic lecture on this painting, and the girl reached out and touched the wall. Asim leapt off the table and screamed “Don’t touch it, you’ll wear it out”. The poor girl ran away, never to return. This was the last time Asim came to T2F.

A few days later, on the 12 of Jan 2010, I met Asim at his Nani’s house and we made plans for him to do a painting and installation using Metropole Hotel remnants on T2F’s balcony. He was to come and start work on the 14th of January. He messaged me at 9:03 pm saying, “Hey. Sorry. Will go tomorrow”. And the next day, he was gone.

I can’t claim to have known Asim well but I feel blessed to have met him and to have had several opportunities to work with him. He was a shining star. We still go and post things on his Facebook wall – memories, songs, videos, quotations. He is alive in our hearts and minds and I know he helps many of us get through the chaos of our lives.