By Tehniat Aftab
Creative artistic spaces.
“A community space for open dialogue, T2F provides citizens with a platform for social change through rich cultural activities, public discourse, and advocacy using progressive ideas and the new media,” PeaceNiche (parent organisation of T2F)
The thing that needs to be understood about The Second Floor (T2F) is that it’s not just a café. Well, it is but it’s so much more, from its wealth of books and magazines, board games, puzzles and free wi-fi, it is as so many of its patrons feel, a second home. A place where you can kick off your shoes and enjoy the great company, coffee and of course, the food!
Situated in Karachi, Defence Phase 2 (ext), the café offers reasonably priced homemade menu items, including scrumptious sandwiches: moist and juicy pepper chicken, hunter beef and “The Grilled Cheese Flying Saucer” are just a few of the options on display. While there are a variety of steaming hot beverages to choose from—from espressos to cappuccinos to hot chocolate— T2F is best known for its baked goodies. Rich, delicious chocolate cupcakes, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal & chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. It also offers an all day breakfast – with omelet, frenchtoast, granola and milk. The café management assures us that everything in their kitchen is made from scratch and with handpicked ingredients—the coffee freshly brewed, and bread and cookies freshly baked everyday at the café.
The ambience and atmosphere of T2F is warm, comfortable and welcoming. The café has a light, contemporary look: brown polished furniture, orange walls, and is plenty spacious. The café also features events for students and other young people to participate in and attend. There are training sessions, tabla classes, drawing and art classes, classical singing classics, photography workshops, comedy nights, karaoke nights, book launches and a whole lot more. There have been over a hundred different events and workshops at T2F: photography and design exhibitions, discussions, talks, poetry readings, musical sessions, theatre performances etc. Artists, writers and intellectuals are often found here engaged in healthy discussion and debate, writing their grand masterpieces of tomorrow or merely enjoying the ambience.
The Second Floor also features a bookstore, with over 500 books on various subjects: politics, fiction, poetry, science, art, design and novels. It also has a selection of rare comtemporary Urdu novels and poetry. One of the more interesting elements of the café is the bathroom blackboard; its purpose being to allow its customers to indulge in artistic, creative whimsy. The café also hosts its own gallery—Farrar Art Gallery—which serves as a platform for new and emerging artists & photographers.
The Second Floor is a place for the intellectually inclined and visually arresting artists, poets and writers of today. With its good food, coffee and focus on constantly engaging healthy discussion and debate, it is exactly what the city and country need. Here’s hoping cafes in Lahore and Islamabad follow suit. It might help increase the impact of the intellectual and creative elite, if an increasing number of establishments sat up and took notice of the talent growing in their back yard.