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Friday, July 06, 2007

A T2F Events recap (as promised/threatened)

Don't blame me. YOU asked for it!

The Second Floor began its Events run with the first of its Mixed Bag series, hosting Saad Haroon's "Open Mic Night", an amalgam of standup-comedy, music, reading, music, and more music. It brought in an energetic young crowd for the most part, mainly friends and fans of Saad and the others who were performing. That's certainly more than T2F can seat. There were 90+ people at one point --- more than double its café style seating capacity --- which made the event more intimate and fun, as concerts should be. Some sat on the floor, some on hastily added chairs pulled in from neighbouring b.i.t.s., while some remained standing. A fun evening, for young and old alike, it opened with Saad's own hilariouspiece, Welcome to Dubai. He really is a brilliant performer and has a great presence. Here's the opening verse that should ensure your requesting him to perform it the next time you catch him onstage.

The crowd enjoyed every bit of the evening that featured a whole lot of young artists: Hassan Fancy, Khizer Diwan & Saad Choudhry, Maaz, Ali Alam & Miqdad Mohammad (from names list provided by Saad). Here are brief snatches from Auntie Disco Project and Humaira & Kenan, my favourites from that evening.

And then there was Bina Shah. There were doubts in some minds whether (because of the otherwise heavily music-laden evening) people would enjoy listening to a piece of prose. But, wow! She brought the house down with an excellent piece on getting a US Visa, written specially for the event. Her funny-dramatic delivery - she's a natural - added to the pleasure. In fact, T2F immediately decided to book her for an event of her own.

Following this kind of evening, what was planned next - an Urdu poetry reading in the series In Their Own Voice - raised several questions. Who would come to this venue for such an event? Is Urdu poetry (and, specifically, our first guest Zeeshan Sahil's) popular in the areas from where T2F is more easily accessible? Would people travel from the remoter parts of Karachi to attend this, something those associated with T2F really wanted to encourage?

We were sure that we'd get 40, anyway ... so packing in close to 75 on the actual day was a really pleasant surprise, as was the rapid sale of Zeeshan's books at the signing session that followed. Surprisingly delightful, too, was the fact that more Urdu editions were sold than the bi-lingual one with Tehmina's Ahmad's translations. Many buyers commented that they were glad to see the Urdu books section at T2F's small but thoughtfully stocked bookshop, without having to go all the way to Urdu Bazaar. The Urdu pre-selections, mainly by writers Asif Farrukhi and Ajmal Kamal, have helped a lot, as have later suggestions from visitors.

What can one say of Zeeshan and his poetry? Both exude sensitivity, affection, warmth. His poem, Jahaaz, as one member of the audience said, "imbues a machine with human emotions in an age where humans are becoming more like machines." For those who missed out on the evening: Do get a copy of one of his many books on your next visit to T2F. You'll love it. My recommendation: Try Email Aur Doosree Nazmayñ or Karachi Aur Doosree Nazmayñ for starters. We cannot thank him enough to travel so far and sit through such a long evening, in his wheelchair-ridden condition. He closed with a poem called Taliban.

In a complete shift of mood and tempo once again, T2F hosted an evening of Tee-M (Tariq Mirza) on tour of his hometown all the way from the USA. Held - coincidentally - on his birthday, it was nostalgic fun for me and a joy to meet a couple of old friends who turned up and thoroughly enjoyed the music. I discovered, too, that Tariq was the younger brother of two very old friends/classmates of mine: Farhat & Shahid - the latter, sadly, no longer with us. Obviously, Tariq was so much younger - he was probably born when I had nearly left school - that I have no recollection of him from back then. This discovery, in turn, led to a further interesting twist for me: Shahid's son, Taymur - who runs an IB school in Karachi - has been interacting with me without either of us being aware of our 'connection'. Only the most common of all clichés comes to mind, so I won't repeat it.

While I enjoyed Tee-M's evening overall, for me the peak fun moment was seeing Tee-M's elder cousin, Naeem Mirza, join in for an informal and rendition of Jamaica Farewell.
Read only if you're past 60:

Naeem - an old schoolmate - used to be among the best voices of our younger days and I still recall him and Adlynne Afzal's duet of A- You're Adorable on a Radio Pakistan(!) Show, where another friend, Ifti, also sang Granada in his beautiful baritone the same evening. (Bet you, Naeem, that you'd forgotten this yourself!).

Those were the days of Western Music programmes on Radio Pakistan! Hit Parades in the afternoons. Music Requests at night, with 'dedications' that often led to disasters - as Dr Irfan Mirza would know if he reads this. Still ringing in my mind are the popular voices of announcers-cum-newsreaders, Edward Carapiett and Khadija Naqvi.

Wonder if we can get some of the old folks together at T2F: Louis D'Cruz - known for his Country & Western bits - and Austin Freitas for some Operatic arias. Can anyone recall others and help?
Tammy Haq of Business Plus was, obviously, bowled over by Tee-M's performance (which, by the way, is part of T2F's Visitor's Nights, an occasional event that will host interesting people dropping into Karachi). So, Tammy decided to hold a TV Special that was shot at T2F, soon after. Sabeen was interviewed on the program, too. While the evening was enjoyable, the 'shoot' certainly took away from the spontaneity of Tee-M's first performance and those who only caught the latter on TV have no idea what fun his first T2F night was like.

Bina Shah's session was held next and drew a good-sized audience. She read out a poignant tale about the evil practice of Kari from her latest book - Blessings - a collection of short stories. The reading had a couple of members of the audience in near-tears.
Following up on the story, someone has suggested a whole evening dedicated to discussing the Kari scourge, its origins, and what can be done to stop it. Is anyone interested in taking this up and organising it at T2F???
On request, Bina next read her recent US Visa piece and, once again, had the audience in stitches. There's a review on KMB of her evening by Jamash (whose lovely photo of Bina is worth a dekko).

Oh ... I plead guilty to the less-than-great sound quality that evening. Sorry Bina. The usuual music system is not wired for mics and live feed, and the lo-fi PA equipment - obviously designed for roadside weddings, as we learnt the hard way - was hastily borrowed from (wait for it... ) Kauser Tent House, whom people now mockingly refer to as Zak's Media Partners. Alas, it did not do too well :-( but, I am afraid, it was all that a poor NGO could be expected to afford and muster in a last minute rush. T2F's own PA system was delayed and arrived just a day later. That's life! A simple but more than adequate dedicated sound system - put together by an old friend and hi-fi service wiz, Mohd. Mamsa* - worked very well at Pervez's event! So, folks, the next time Bina reads, she'll sound even better!

Pervez Hoodbhoy's presentation at the first Science Ka Adda has already been covered in the previous post, so there's no need to go into it, except to note that it has led to some exciting debates currently raging at T2F.

*Tracking Mamsa down on 92-320-509-4651 is a chore-&-a-half, but he certainly knows his onions (and Quads, Revoxes, Thorens and other esoteric equipment). So if you want to get that old turntable out of the dusty cupboard and revive it for the sudden resurrecton of vinyl we are witnessing, he's your man. Now THIS is what I call a PLUG!

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Anonymous Quizman said...

Re - your query. I am neither Pakistani nor past 40 (forget 60), but this article may help trigger memories of musicians. This is from the Indian side of the border, but some folks may have migrated to Pakistan.

11 July, 2007 23:32

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Thanks so much for pointing me to a wonderful article. Floods of memories ....

11 July, 2007 23:45

Anonymous Quizman said...

You're welcome. Prof. Surjit Singh, of San Diego has put his entire collection of 1940s songs on his website>. They also include an extensive section on Khurshid Anwar (videos, audios), some of which were donated by his son Irfan.

Also, re classical music, Dr. Rajan Parrikar has uploaded many rare gems on his website. Scroll down on this page, and each link thereafter is a gem.

12 July, 2007 02:06


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