There are very few among us, who’ve not experienced financial struggle and toil. Whether it is a bad hand dealt by the universe or a beast of our own making, the times of pinching pennies and stressing out are also the times we need a place to escape to. While there are few and far in-between public spaces that are well-maintained and offer such a safe respite, most other spaces where we can let our mind rest, are those that demand more from us - cafes or stores that demand us to spend money on products or consumables or services to simply spend time there. But this expectation and the pressure is something that many people wish would change.
In answer to these, the concept of an anti-cafe or a time club emerged in Russia and has extended to all over the world. The basic concept of these is that they provide a cheap and convenient space for people to work, and study and even become a space for creative networking and collaboration. While there are numerous cafes of similar kind across the world, there are very few in India. Dialogues in Bangalore which began in 2016, is such a where you pay for your time, but even then, they do charge additionally for everything on the menu.
But cut to 2023 in Kochi, Kerala and there is a new entrant into the time-club. GVQ Cafe in Kalamassery, Kochi is a recently opened space that holds steadfast to the concept of an 'anti-cafe'. From providing free refreshments and refills, as well as cookies and even a complimentary butter crepe, this cafe has been created with a simple vision — to let people pay for their time spent in the space and then to let them be. The name of the cafe itself ‘GVQ’ is a play on the word ‘jeeviku’ in Malayalam which means to ‘let live’ and might even be perhaps a reference to the song by popular Malayalam musician Thakara’s track by the same title that alludes to the concept of live and let live.
Founded by Aathira Mohan, a mural artist and co-founder of a Bangalore-based design studio, GVQ is the result of her intense research and exploration into the world of building a cafe space that defies the usual expectations. Aathira had always harboured a dream of creating something truly unique and she has spent time since the pandemic researching the business of running a cafe, even waitressing for a short time, as she mentioned to the Indian Express in an interview, to better understand the expectation of the usual visitor.
Converting an old house ger father had purchased 25 years ago, freshening up the landscaping and creating a minimal yet pleasing aesthetic, Aathira opened up GVQ cafe just a few weeks ago and already has a steady stream of frequent visitors. While they do offer a modest menu with sandwiches and omelettes not to mention the aforementioned free coffee or tea, they also have something that takes the space beyond. You can bring your food, or order in from other places and the staff here will heat up and serve the meals for you. This is especially great for those who have dietary restrictions or want to stick resolutely to their lifestyle routine, while still enjoying spending time in a beautiful space.
The hybrid pricing model for GVQ is similar to some of the anti-cafes in Bordeaux, France - you are charged a fixed fee for the first hour and by the minute beyond that. At GVQ, they charge Rs.150 per person and Rs.1 per minute after that, providing people with the flexibility to truly only pay for the time spent in the space, down to the last minute. As a minimal yet lush space that is away from the rush of the city, GVQ is a great escape in Kochi for those who are looking to work, do small meetings, study, read in solitude or maybe even work on their next great creative venture.
You can follow GVQ here.
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