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Updated: January 9, 2013 17:05 IST

Generosity, the flavour of the month

NEHA MUJUMDAR
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PAY IT FORWARD: At Seva Café, your meal has already been paid for, by the person before you. Photo: Courtesy Sushil Kumar Khatre
PAY IT FORWARD: At Seva Café, your meal has already been paid for, by the person before you. Photo: Courtesy Sushil Kumar Khatre

Seva Café is a unique experiment in dining and generosity, hosted by a restaurant in Yelahanka New Town

A sumptuous meal; the bill arrives; you reach for your wallet.

Instead of a figure, you receive a handwritten note. It informs you that your meal has already been paid for, by the person before you.

If you choose to, you can do the same, by contributing an amount. But if not, you are welcome to treat the meal as a gift.

That’s the concept behind Seva Café, an event which will take place at the Vriksh Restaurant in Yelahanka New Town on January 20.

‘Familial’ approach

The event, which first took place in Bangalore in December at the same venue, is named after the Ahmedabad restaurant which runs full-time on the concept of the ‘circle of giving’.

The idea is to move beyond the one-to-one, mathematical fairness of most transactions and towards a more ‘familial’ approach.

In purely economic terms, these ventures are called pay-as-you-wish restaurants (Indus Valley in Auroville and Kunzum Café in Delhi are other examples). Seva Café is incompletely described by that term, because there’s an idealistic spirit of generosity and love that motivates the whole process.

For Susheel Nair from Vriksh, the seed was sown when he watched a rousing speech by the entrepreneur Nipun Mehta on designing for generosity. When he met Anupreet Dhody at an experiential retreat, the idea took shape and “fit snugly” with his work, he recalls, since he wanted Vriksh to be more than just a restaurant.

Pleasant surprise

The first event went very well, and so he’s planning for a monthly series, he says. A handful of volunteers have made themselves available: they do all the preparation and cleaning.

Part of the whole experience is also the surprise element: so people might also walk in as if it were a regular business day. “But it is slightly more festive than other days,” noted Nair. “It really highlights the essential goodness of humans.”

Vriksh Restaurant is at 22, SFS-208, 1st Main Road, Yelahanka New Town (41121552).

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