Art Book Launch: Basila & The Street Crew
Book Launch / August 18, 2017

Karachi, August 17: Basila, a young girl from the Makrani community of Sindh is an active citizen. From child labor to animal abuse, she is troubled by all social ills of the community. That’s where she rises to the challenge and takes to teach homeless aspiring artists to pursue their passion through painting visual messages of love, peace and interfaith harmony on public walls and open spaces. Streets of Karachi are her classrooms and the city walls are her canvas. Basila and the Street Crew is one of Azcorp Entertainment’s breakthrough comic books. While it focuses on various societal issues, it draws attention to a very important theme of social inclusion by introducing a transgender character. Riffat Apa, the aunt of the protagonist, is the leading character. She also shares the same passion for the country and her surroundings like Basila. With various incidents of transphobia reported every day in Pakistan, the need to normalize their existence is ever crucial. “More than anything, the transgender community of Pakistan wants acceptance”, said Anain Shaikh, the co-creator and illustrator of Basila and the Street Crew. “We’ve aimed to neither glorify nor victimize a transgender person but to rather show them in everyday…

Paish-e-Lafz sets good precedence for Student-led festivals

On May 7th the students of SZABIST Karachi held an event at T2F as course project. Titled ‘Paish-e-Lafz’, it was organized on the lines of Literature Festival by students who opted Experiential Marketing course for Spring 2016 semester. Starting at midday, the program included four distinct segments that covered a variety of subjects. The first one was “Boys Played Well”, the Cricket segment that included former Cricketers who spoke about the game and its current situation. Names like Shoaib Mohammad and Sikandar Bakht were part of the panel present at the event. The second segment was “A Tale of 3 Cities” where participants from Karachi, Mumbai and Dhaka spoke about culture and history. Joining via internet, Ganapathy Balagopalan from Mumbai and Naveed Mahbub from Dhaka, they joined Madiha Syed for the discussion panel moderated by Mariam Durrani. The third segment was about writing by Desi Writers Lounge. Focusing on an event called NaNoWriMo, where participants write 50,000 words in the month of November, the panelists spoke about writing in groups and how it helps. The panelists included Farheen Zehra, Christie Lauder and Sheba Sultan. The last segment of the event was a movie screening “Ankhon Dekhi” that was directed by Rajat…

NaNoWriMo Pakistan Experience
NaNoWriMo / December 12, 2015

I came to know about NaNoWriMo few years ago through social media. The idea of writing a novel of 50k words in a month seemed, at the same time, daunting and exciting. Daunting because taking out time to write an essay of 2000 words is an effort in itself, requiring careful flow of ideas and proper planning of objectives to achieve from the write-up. It was not the case with NaNoWriMo, because writing 50,000 words novel in 30 days just did not seem possible. But it was exciting at the same time, the sheer joy of writing that story that has been brewing in your mind for a long time. So, in the year 2014, I tried my hand at NaNoWriMo’s challenge and began working on a sci-fi novel set in Karachi. I was excited, and scared, and was determined to see it through. It did not last long. I could not continue beyond 5,000 words. This probably is not for me, I thought. I am one of those who need a long time to write such a large piece. And the story remained there, on my laptop, untouched, for nearly a year. And I was reminded of it by Desi Writers Lounge…

Conversation with Laurent Gayer
Author Meetup, Speaker Session / March 2, 2015

Laurent Gayer, author of Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City, came to T2F for a session about Karachi city and its violence. The event was co-hosted by Desi Writers Lounge and T2F and moderator for the session was Sabin Agha, renowned journalist who has covered the difficult years of Karachi and currently works for the BBC. The session started at 7 pm and by then nearly 80% seats were occupied; soon additional chairs were required to for the latecomers. Farheen Zehra, Karachi representative of Desi Writers Lounge, made the introductions and Sabin continued the conversation from there. Most of the discussion centered around the content of the book itself, therefore much of the information can be gained by reading the book. The important points, however, are summed up as follows: – Up until the 1950s and 1960s, Pakistan had a strong student movement. Since Laurent experienced student movement himself in France, he was fascinated to know how they died in Pakistan … so much so that people don’t even know about the history of the leftist student groups that shook up governments and even brought them down on knees at occasions to fulfill demands. A whole chapter…

In Conversation with Author Laurent Gayer
Author Meetup / February 27, 2015

Laurent Gayer, the author of the book Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City, will be in conversation with Sabin Agha at The Second Floor (T2F) on 2nd of March, 2015. The event is being held in collaboration with Desi Writers Lounge. Some details about the event: Desi Writers’ Lounge and T2f cordially invite you to an evening with Laurent Gayer, author of Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City. Laurent Gayer will be in conversation with Sabin Agha about urban violence in South Asia, how it affects the life of multiethnic communities in metro cities and how the new wave of terrorism is changing the nature and scope of urban violence. Laurent Gayer is a research fellow at the Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), currently posted to the Centre d’etudes et de recherché internationals (CERI- Sciences Po), Paris. His major publications include Armed Militias of South Asia:Fundamentalists, Maoists and Separatists, and Muslims in Indian Cities: Trajectories of Marginalisation. Sabin Agha is a journalist, documentary film producer and a media trainer. She has been a broadcast journalist for the past 14 years, covering the beats of politics and crime. As a freelance documentary film producer,…

Panel Discussion on Karachi with Arif Hasan
Speaker Session / February 14, 2015

A panel discussion led by famed architecture of Karachi, Arif Hasan, took place at T2F (The Second Floor) on Friday 13th February, 2015. Panel was titled The Karachi “Situation”: Exploring Responses. It started just after 7 pm and the panel included, along with Arif himself, Sabeen Mehmud (Founder T2F), Karamat Ali (Executive Director PILER) and a youth activist from Lyari. Post by The Second Floor (T2F). The session began with the moderator telling the audience about the purpose of the meeting. It was a follow-up of a two-day conference held in December 2014 titled “Exploring Peace and Reconciliation: Towards a Karachi For All” under the banner of I AM KARACHI campaign. A document detailing the action plan, agenda, key points and proposed solutions of the conference was distributed among the participants as the moderator guided through some of the discussions held at the conference and solutions that were proposed. The panel discussion aimed at further responses from youth and general people to enhance the document and further develop a plan to improve situation of Karachi. Arif Hasan shared his experienced with the audience, telling everyone how Karachi changed from a well planned city to the current jungle of concrete it is…

John Keay on How India Was Mapped
Speaker Session / February 6, 2015

Post by The Second Floor (T2F). John Keay spoke during a session at T2F Karachi titled The Great Arc – The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped on 5th of February. Starting at 7 PM and suffering from a few technical glitches, for the next hour John took us through the history of explorers who ventured through thick and thin to plot Indian territory, from the southern tip right up to the northern mountains. A bit about the speaker: Born in 1941 in Devon, England, John Keay was educated at Ampleforth College, York and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was a scholar in Modern History. His tutors included the historian A J P Taylor and the playwright Alan Bennet. He first visited India in 1965 and has been returning there about every two years ever since. After a brief spell as a political correspondent, he assisted in the revision of the last edition of John Murray’s Handbook to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (1975) and wrote Into India, his first book. A string of acclaimed works followed – and continues. The paperback of his The Honourable Company has been reprinted a dozen times and India: A History…