Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cultural Revival in Karachi; Musical Base Rock Café, Artistic Koel & Intellectual T2F

During 70’s Karachi was the cultural capital of Pakistan. Road side Coffee Houses used to provide a place for intellectual tête-à-tête .Over the period my city has evolved and at the same time global political issues & dynamics have also changed. After passing through transition, today Karachi has engulfed with range of cafes.

Surge of cafés is not all about coffee and sandwiches but a new form of culture and entertainment is evolving. There are three cafes playing a pivotal role, THE BASE ROCK CAFÉ, CAFÉ KOEL & T2F. When I think about these three cafes, music, art and intellectual quest comes in my mind.

I remember my Tokyo journey, while walking through upscale Ginza; I saw young girls and guys desperately waiting for local stars, right in front of a theater, similarly my New York trip to Broadway theaters and cafes talked volumes about the taste and artistic flair of the people. I could see intellectual artistic persona effect both in Tokyo & New York. When it comes to Karachi, I used to feel that my city is culturally dead, tasteless, heartless and completely de-intellectualized.

After the influx of cafés in Karachi I am optimist & have strong belief that these cafés would eventually lead to the revival of 70s coffee houses with contemporary taste of music, art and intellectual freedom.

Base Rock Café (BRC) is a café cum musical oasis for culturally starved Karachi, BRC is not about coffee and music but it offers a launching pad for under ground music talent in Karachi. With best music system, it brings Karaoke, tribute to music icons along with live bands and music competition for music freaks.

Café Koel adds an artistic flair to café scene in Karachi, a café evolved from Noor Jehan’s artistic quest for traditional crafts. It lead to the revival of hand block printed fabric mainly Ajrak prints of Hala Sind. Café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, one can enjoy meal under a tree or air-conditioned artistic indoor. There is an art gallery along with a boutique of exotic hand block printed fabrics.

The Second Floor T2F is a café that provides food for thought besides coffee & sandwiches, an open place for intellectual tête-à-tête. It is run by Peace Niche, an NGO, and brain child of Sabeen Mahmud. It frequently arranges discussions, invites brilliant guest speakers, provides space for book launches and also house range of books available for reading and sale.

I would love to see my Karachi, transforming from violence ridden chaotic city image to a fun filled, intellectual & artistic persona.