For a perfect gateway, what better can be than a quick trip to the Queen of Hills, Shimla whose picturesque locale serves as a perfect place for rejuvenation with a vast variety of dine-ins and cafes which are adding the trend factor to the tourist spot as well as taking care of your hunger pangs. But especially during summer vacations, there is a rare sight which you might come across if you visit Shimla during the busiest time of its year, a fanciful little eatery called the Book Cafe. Situated right on top of the historical Ridge and on the way to the famous Jaku Temple, it serves a variety of delicious snacks and beverages while offering a beautiful view of the mighty mountains. Book cafe is gaining popularity around the country and is the topic of curiosity among tourists as it is the first of its kind to be run by four convicted criminals. Impossible to believe, but true.
The four convicts, Jai Chand, Yog Raj, Ram Lal and Raj Kumar, work as chefs and servers while they are currently serving a life term in Kaithu jail. It has been recently launched by Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh in an attempt to provide the inmates with a fair chance to be associated with the society and a lead a normal life. In a conversation with the media about the cafe being run by convicts, Virbhadra Singh said that it was a good step and that all prisoners must be given opportunities to rectify themselves and work to earn a livelihood.
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Book cafe has been aided and run by the Himachal Pradesh tourism department in an attempt to provide the inmates with a second chance to be productive in society. The cost of constructing the Book Café was Rs. 20 lakh approximately, which can accommodate around 40 customers at a particular time. Its specialities include pizzas and cookies which are made by the four inmates. As the name suggests, the café is also stocked with books of all genres, including ones from authors like Nikita Singh and Jules Verne and also offers free Wi-Fi.
Unlikely of how inmates are treated, the four convicts were given proper training by professional cooks and servers.
When interviewed, one of the convicts Jai Chand said,
“This cafe has given us the chance to connect to the world.”
In an interview with IANS, Yog Raj mentioned that the visitors, the locals, don’t show any apprehension while interacting with them. Indeed, they are interested to know more about their radical transformation.
This unique café is seven days a week from 10 AM to 9 PM after which the inmates return to their cells.
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