Issue One: Letter from the Editor

By Payal Khandelwal • Issue 1, Mar 2017

I was recently telling a friend about the night I sent out the first batch of mails when I started working on TFM in October 2015. Of course, I had been toying with the idea of starting the project for a while (you can read more about that in the first letter I wrote during the launch in December 2015), but I was effortlessly procrastinating. That night I watched the movie Tracks, directed by John Curran and based on writer Robyn Davidson’s non-fiction book of the same name. To oversimplify it, the movie is about Robyn’s journey across the Australian desert in 1977 with four camels and her pet dog Diggity.

Mia Wasikowska in Tracks. Courtesy of Hanway Films.

Robyn’s story at a deeper level is of course about seeking meaning in life, which we all do in our different, unique ways. It’s not about looking for an escape. It’s a move towards something simpler, yet substantial and layered with experiences. I was so moved after watching the movie that I sat continuously for about 4–5 hours in the middle of the night, shortlisted a few artists, sent out a bunch of mails, and finally infused flesh and blood into TFM.

TFM has always been and still is a way personally for me to seek “meaning”. However, over the last one year, it has taken its own palpable life form. I am, thankfully, now only a very small part of the TFM universe.

I will soon talk about this universe, but first let me give you a glimpse into TFM’s re-launch issue. Apart from the usual in-depth conversations (People, Places and Things), we have now introduced a Cover Feature for each issue which will delve deep into a relevant and topical subject. ‘Creative Resilience’ is the need of the hour, and our cover story for our first issue. Focusing specifically on the recent Muslim ban in the USA, we asked seven creative professionals from different countries and streams to talk about how the creative community can practically and meaningfully become a part of what’s going on. We have got some absolutely insightful inputs from including Mira Malhotra, Jamie Hu, Akhila Krishnan, Kay Khoo, Anu Rana, Janine Shroff, and Eiman Elgibreen (who has been featured on TFM earlier too).

Our ‘Places’ interview is with illustrator and designer Maggie Chiang who was born to Taiwanese parents in the USA. Based in LA, she works independently and has created works for various editorial brands including The New York Times. Our ‘People’ conversations are with Sara Medghalchi who is a photographer and English teacher from Tehran, Iran and Jannatul Mawa who is a photojournalist and activist from Dhaka, Bangladesh. We also have a fashion designer in TFM for the very first time, Lara Khoury from Beirut, Lebanon — also featured in our People section.

As usual, putting the interviews together remains a highly collaborative effort between the interviewer and the artist at TFM, something that we are very proud of. TFM strives to not just be a publication, but a platform for creatives from Asia and Middle East. We interviewed Lara and Sara over Skype, followed by many emails over the last two months to shortlist the images and do quick follow-ups. We interviewed Maggie in December through a few emails as she was soon leaving for a month-long trip after that. We also had multiple conversations with Jannatul through Skype, Facebook and emails to close in on the final draft and images.

Interestingly and co-incidentally, 99% of this issue features women. 1% is Kay Khoo — co founder of Fish Do It, my part-time colleague, and full-time friend — who actually gave us the idea for the cover story.

Talking of women, I must introduce you to two new key members of the TFM team. Malaysia based graphic designer Hooiwan Ling (my friend and ex-colleague) has come onboard as the Creative Director of TFM. Her own independent venture Moving Herd Communications has done the entire redesign and development of the new TFM. Writer, designer and illustrator Sonaksha Iyengar has joined TFM and TFM Studio as its associate editor. Needless to say, you wouldn’t be seeing the first issue right now if not for the talent, hard work and dedication of these two.

Another woman I should particularly thank is Upasana Makati, founder, publisher and editor of White Print which is India’s only lifestyle magazine in Braille. She not only has inspired me personally at so many levels, but has also collaborated with TFM to create a special edition of White Print with selective TFM interviews. That has undoubtedly been the best project we have done since the beginning of TFM.

As always, a big thank you to everyone else who has been a part of TFM journey in any which way.

It’s already been an experience of a lifetime, and there’s still so much to do. For now, I hope you enjoy reading the first issue, which has been crafted with a whole lot of love and integrity.

I would love to hear from you at [email protected]

With warm regards,


PS: “There are some moments in life that are like pivots around which your existence turns — small intuitive flashes, when you know you have done something correct for a change, when you think you are on the right track.” ― Robyn Davidson


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