This bar and family restaurant near Coles Park may appear similar to several other eat-outs in the locality. However, look closer and you will notice the difference — one that attracts news-addicts. Besides booze and snacks, customers get to read news stories of the day that are serious, funny, unique and bizarre.
Two notice boards at the entrance of Shakthi United Bar and Family Restaurant display newspaper clippings ranging from sensex to Norah Jones to crime stories.
One notice board that was meant to camouflage the eye-spoiler electricity meter board has now evolved into a permanent feature which regulars describe as “the eye-candy” of the bar and restaurant. The other board is for aesthetic reasons.
The notice boards display news articles and eye-catching photographs that are lapped-up by most customers. They are diligently changed at 7 p.m. every day.
K.A. Babu, the 51-year-old owner of the bar, has been collecting news clippings since he was a boy. A diabetic, he developed the habit of finding articles on the latest developments pertaining to diabetes. Collecting interesting news eventually became his hobby. “I started placing them to cover the meter box, and to display something new. I felt I could place them here to give customers something new and entertaining. I handpick interesting articles every morning,” Mr. Babu says, adding that he has mastered the art of picking the most entertaining and informative news over the past 10 years. On what motivates him to keep up with this practice, Mr. Babu says many people wait for the news. “One of my regular customers, a 60-year-old man, used to take notes based on the clippings,” he says.
Mr. Babu says he is the editor of the notice boards. “I try to pin news that is informative and interesting. I avoid politics and tragedies, since you can get them on the TV. I want an informative atmosphere in the bar,” he explains.
Most customers are thrilled with Mr. Babu’s novel idea. One of them paused drinking and told this reporter, “Depending on the content, they make me Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham (sometimes happy, sometimes sad).”
The bar is also a place where people have “enlightened” discussions. Freelance writer S.M. Nanjappa has been a regular at the bar since it started. He says: “Though I do not drink, I come to the bar just to be able to talk with Mr. Babu for hours. We can talk about anything.”
However, some customers candidly admit that they cannot see anything but beer and whisky. “The bar is an odd place to read news. People do not notice these things in a bar. This idea should be implemented in public spaces such as parks, bus-stops and parking lots,” says businessman Moses Harry.