September 16, 2020
The Third Eye Cafe is located at Palm Beach, Navi Mumbai – India. It is one of the few places in India that train and employ transgenders. The cafe first opened its doors in 2017.
The cafe is a space for people to indulge in comfort zones and get entertained by the hospitality. Space which is devoid of all social bindings, stereotypes, and constraints. A space free for thought, practice and perspective.
This place was started for various aspects and one of them is to meet and create a bigger family of like-minded people.
‘We chose this name, Third Eye because we knew we were going to start a restaurant which would employ the third gender”.
“Third” is for the third gender. “Eye” denotes a different perspective that shows the third perspective to society.
What makes them different?
The staff working here is transgender. It is a sign that India is growing, becoming inclusive and hiring transgenders for respectful jobs.
The aesthetics of the cafe is elegant and warmth-inducing. It also features Gandhi Quotes on the walls to motivate the customers and the employees.
The cafe has changed the social norms and made life better for the transgender community. The cafe’s food is cooked with love and served by 6 transgender employees.
Leaving behind stereotypes and constraints, these employees are happy to have a job which is like what everyone else does.
Nimesh Shetty, one of the founders of the cafe said, ‘It was in 2011 or 2012 when I was doing research for my college thesis,’ he recalls. ‘I was doing a study on the third gender: the transgender community. And it was the first time I got in touch with the community in Bombay and across the country. That’s when I understood the basic needs of the community, the problems they face, as well as what people thought about the community.’
The purpose was to offer them mainstream jobs and get them to familiarize themselves with the people. And that is how society gets to know the people and accepts them.
Some of the employees here had cruel histories of begging and prostitution as well. They’re positive about changing the perspective of the transgender community.
It is setting an example for society through its decision to employ people from the transgender community, to serve guests.
It is also one of the platforms where transgender people come, get trained, work and progress in life.
The cafe provides a platform for this section of queer people to gain training and take up jobs. Thus helping them integrate into the mainstream.
Thankfully he did not go through a lot of criticisms while opening the cafe. Yet got questions regarding how he would go about it, how he would manage in employing the right person for the job. Eventually, everything fell in place and he could pull off everything according to the plan.
It has an amazingly unique, innovative and modern concept. It has a vibrant and pleasant ambiance with good music-making the overall experience great. The staff are really polite and welcoming with all smiles.
Bringing a change:
The cafe sets an example to all the people of society that one small step can bring a drastic change in society. By providing jobs to transgenders and the people of the LGBTQ+ community would not only help them gain respect in society and also build confidence in them.
A pinch of salt can change an entire food story. So can a little positive attitude towards the community. Navi Mumbai’s first cafe that stands for a change. A change that is breaking the gender stereotypes and giving a platform to the transgenders for a respectable life.
Providing employment to the transgenders can also stop them from begging on the streets, traffic signals and even stop forced prostitution.
It will also help them get educated and gain skills which might help them fetch better jobs and better living.
The change is not just in attitude but taste too. Here flavors are infused to delight your taste buds with platters so different. So, when you step into Third Eye Cafe, you don’t just taste the change but also be a part of the change.
All the world needs is a little bit of consideration and the motivation to change things to the better. The cafe is a beacon of hope, that could probably inspire many more restaurants across the city if not the country to become more inclusive. Transgenders struggle to gain respect, if not respectful jobs. With initiatives like this, as a society, we could simply stop discriminating based on sexuality and gender and hire and train those who need it the most.