There are some cafes that work to satiate your daily caffeine dose and hunger for a good sandwich; and then there are those that know how to feed your heart and soul. One in particular is a little establishment in Chattisgarh that’s setting high standards for socially conscious cafes. The Nikkad Teafe, in Bhilai, is reversing social barriers by only employing transgenders and people with visual and speech impairments. The intention behind this endeavour is to provide a space of equal opportunity for marginalised groups of individuals - who are more or less persistently denied opportunities to work and progress, because of their perceived physical capabilities and their affiliated social stigmas.
The dynamic between customers and employees at Nukkad Teafe is the definition of a humbling communal effort. Customers get the opportunity to learn and interact with the some of the staff members in sign language and can get to know a thing or two about their lives. Even the menu is designed in a such a way that all customers can easily spell out their orders and requests, using ISL. In an interview with The Indian Express, Priyank Patel, the cafe’s founder and owner, explains how he not only wanted to give differently abled and transgendered individuals a safe opportunity to work and become self-sustainable, but also wanted to create a space for them to simply socialise. Having started the first Nukkad Teafe in 2013, he currently owns multiple other branches across Chattisgarh and has since helped change the lives of many people for the better.
But that’s not the only unique aspect this cafe boasts. The cafe actively encourages people to use it as a performance space. If you have a poem you’ve been dying to read aloud or just happen to have a guitar with you, anyone is more than welcome to take centre stage. They even have a library, under the name of an initiative called ‘Gyaan Daan’, where people can donate and borrow books. The homely decor and the library make the cafe a great place for bibliophiles to plop down in a comfy corner with a good read and steaming cup of tea.
Apart from the growing list of cool things Nukkad has to offer, they also follow a system called ‘digital detox’, where visitors can avail a 10% discount off their bill by keeping their phones tucked away during their time there. This project emphasises the need to clear out the white noise of the digital world and actually converse with the person in front of them.
The Nukkad Teafe is an environment that not only stands for a very important social cause, but forces all its visitors to engage in the old school way (and frankly, what should be the only way) of socialising. It serves as a safe and healthy platform for people of starkly different circumstances to sit together and enjoy the simple pleasures the world has to offer - and of course, some chai.
Feature image courtesy of The Indian Express
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