T2F has gotten a lot of flak out here, so this is for all the T2F haters: it is simply the most crass, commercial project imaginable. If T2F becomes the “cultural hotspot” of Karachi, may god help us all.
Consider. T2F has very successfully managed to position itself as having an artistic/intellectual/sophisticated side where the coffee is cheap and the ideas rich. But then I actually went to the place and found it to be as unwelcoming as a hospital cafeteria. The spotless, multicoloured walls (other than the incomplete mural), the uncomfortable wooden stools, the awful lighting, all tucked away in the most soulless, corporate office block imaginable. Zamzama isn’t a pretty place at all, but the cafes there at least manage to mask the ugliness of the buildings that house them.
And, it isn’t exactly the cheapest thing out there. I went there in a group of three for a recently organised “jazz evening” and we had to fork over nearly a thousand rupees to gain entrance. If you thought that would buy you at least a chair for the evening, you’d be mistaken: the place was so crowded that it was barely possible to find a spot to stand on. I guess when it comes to making money, small issues such as overcrowding and fire hazards can be disregarded – so much for the “new awakening” of T2F.
I didn’t go for the Science Ka Adda event advertised here, but was I the only one who thought that perhaps the 100 rupee entrance was 100 rupees too much for an educational lecture? Don’t get me wrong, 100 rupees isn’t a lot, but then why charge a fee to have others come and listen to the exchange of ideas? Surely if the event is stimulating enough, people will order a cup of coffee or at least a Coke?
Which is what my biggest problem with the place is: it is commodifying the arts, science and culture. Cafes on Zamzama make no bones about what they represent and one has to at least grudgingly respect them for that. But T2F is doing something more insidious: it is trying to capture the moral high ground and then carve it up and sell it back to the people of this city.
These are obviously my personal views, but I for one would be happy to see the back of T2F.