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KARACHI: In the heart of Jamshed Quarters, once home to multiple ethnicities — Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Parsis and Jews — a new public space has emerged to provide the citizens of Karachi with a safe, inclusive space to talk and discuss ideas.

TDF Ghar, launched by The Dawood Foundation, was originally constructed in the 1930s under an almond tree with hand-crafted tiles, now also having a stunning view of the Quaid’s mausoleum. A rich heritage building captured and transformed for modern use without losing its ethos, TDF Ghar boasts of an intimate living room that is being used as a museum for antique artefacts and collectables from the past century.

Once visitors have feasted their eyes on the historic collections the TDF Ghar hosts, they can cool off in the veranda affectionately called Sehan Café which harnesses the Irani café culture that Karachi had been famous for, with bentwood chairs welcoming visitors.

There is more at hand at TDF Ghar. According to Fasih Biyabani, general manager of The Dawood Foundation, “the foundation of TDF Ghar is on the lines of the spirit of Karachi where people from all ethnicities, religions and cultural backgrounds coexist. We wanted the general public to have access to a place where they can come together and talk, and indulge in discourse in the areas of science and arts. We also want TDF Ghar to be a place where there is a lot of cultural exchange.”

A dominant theme behind TDF Ghar is to revive the rich history of the city and allow people to sample it. So care has been taken to keep its restoration and renovation as close to the original as possible.

The tiles on the second floor, where the three rooms are called the Numaish rooms, date back to the 1930s and are all handmade. More of the original tiles that have been used to decorate the rooftop are collected from constructions that date back to the early half of the last century.

However, achieving this was not easy as not only is it almost impossible to find such fixtures and all that is available in the market is of low quality.

TDF Ghar, it is said, can be utilised for organising workshops, trainings, seminars and exhibitions among other activities and is open to the public.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2017