Sunday, August 1, 2021
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Once Upon  A Sunday – May Day Book Cafe


My Macroeconomics textbook, this past Sunday, had the privilege to go on a ride. The plan was to crash a book cafe and study endlessly as I gulped coffee after coffee (such plans, much wow). After a lot of reckoning, I zeroed in on the May Day Cafe because the Internet told me it was worth my time and also, offered solitude.

Jittery Beginning

With my satchel on my back, I was all pumped up for the day as I got down at Shadipur Metro Station. Lost and hopeless as I was, Google Maps came to the rescue. After almost an hour of wild foraging and getting into one shady lane after another, the impediment was resolved. I had reached the May Day Cafe.


To be honest, I was quite disappointed by the facade. It was like nothing I had imagined. Few years back, it would have come across as a PCO to many of us. Just as we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, my verdict on the cafe after seeing the exterior was faulty. Looks had been deceiving.

Food For Soul

The place belongs to people who are willing to take charge, people who believe in their passions and at the same time, want to use it to make a positive change in the lives of others. It’s a modest little place which gives you your peace of mind and where nobody minds for how long you sit or what you do.

The land was bought through funds which were collected over 3 years. A group of like-minded people who found delight in theatre went around performing and raised funds through their work and friends, without any external government support. As of now, the ground floor has three organisations cum businesses running simultaneously.


Knowing The Unknown

The LeftWord Publication has an outlet in the meagre area that is offered to them. Marxist books are seen abounding in every nook and corner of the shelves. The political bent of mind of the owners comes across quite clearly through it. Bargain books for as low as INR 25 are quite a steal.


The cafe is strategically placed beside it to offer tea/coffee to the souls who devour books. It looks like a normal Indian homely kitchen with two sofas placed in a L. The menu is very limited offering only samosa and cookies apart from the beverages. But I haven’t reached the best bit yet. They don’t have a fixed price system for their products. They believe that a person should pay what he deems fit for their services. Misers have an option to not pay at all though not advised!

The idea of this place came up when Jana Natya Manch was looking for a place to practise their daily routines and theatrical performances. They have a little hall which goes by the name Studio Safdar where practise sessions are held regularly. They are leased to people on a daily basis at a cost of INR 1500.


Three more organizations work on the first, second and third floors. All of them are doing their bit to alter the lives of others.

The place lights up on Sundays. Library sessions are held for the underprivileged kids from 10 to 12 and then, a play or story telling show is put up for them at 4. The kids pour in huge numbers and are ecstatic by the presentation. They go back with huge smiles adorning their pretty faces.

The Ecstasy and Contentment

In the midst of it all, I forgot the purpose of my visit to this beautiful little place and ended up playing with these naughty kids and listening to the stories the forerunners of the group had to tell. Nonetheless, I never had had a better Sunday. But I was disappointed with my heavy bag which sadly, wasn’t opened even once.


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