Shaheen Rajan at TDG Ghar, Karachi

My first week in Karachi was close to the end and I had spent majority of time at home, with my parents, eating at every opportunity I got. I slept late, woke up late, and had been living the thug life.

I had about 8 days more in my hometown, so I got to meeting friends and checking out places on my to-see-in-Karachi list. It is silly how I have a to-see list for my own city, but Karachi is special like that. It is dynamic in the real sense of the word. Landscapes change almost as fast as seasons turn. There are new ‘it’ restaurants and cafes every few months. Things go up and down in flames with equal ferocity. Hence, the list.

Anyway. I met Fattu first, and we decided to go to The Dawood Foundation (TDF) Ghar. It took me a while to find it (despite it being right on the main Jamshed Road, courtesy inexperienced driver and lost passenger). Once I finally found it, I bought a ticket for Rs. 50 to enter, and was immediately transported to old Karachi (that I had never been to but imagined and seen in movies).

A 1930’s house in the heart of old Karachi’s Jamshed Quarters, TDF Ghar has been restored and renovated by the Dawood Foundation and is a befitting tribute to the city of lights. With a view of the Mazar-e-Quaid and original handcrafted tiles, it retains its glorious heritage features, with vintage furniture, instruments from years bygone and tapestry that reminds you of hot afternoons in your grandmother’s lounge. However, the display of archaic paraphernalia is not the main purpose of restoring this house. The vision is to offer a place for learning and discussion, where people from every race, ethnicity and religion are equally welcomed.

I have seen a similar furniture and tapestry in my own great grandma’s rooms, which made it even more nostalgic. It had such a unique and sturdy aesthetic, with superior craftsmanship, intricate handmade designs and manual labour that totalled to at least a few dozen hours for each piece. Truly a work of art.

Tolerance and emphasis on learning, topped with Anglo-Indian fixtures, handmade tiles and an uncanny serenity amidst hustle of Karachi, makes TDF Ghar a truly special place that everyone should visit at least once. I reckon that if I lived in Karachi, I would often be found here, typing away posts just like this, with a side of hot qeema cheese paratha and chai.