The human library cafe at Varanasi understands that a physical meet is always necessary for people to share their ideas. With this thought in mind, the cafe is all set to arrange meet-ups with artists, writers, and people from all walks of life.
Have you ever wondered why books in your hand feel much more pleasant than the book on your smartphone? It’s that “human touch”. The same concept works when it comes to communicating with others and sharing insights, believes Ayush Keshri, the owner of the human library cafe at Varanasi.
The cafe, situated at Durgakund, has opened recently to provide people with a space to get into deep conversations with authors, artists, writers and many eminent personalities on weekends. Book lovers, on the other hand, get a separate section inside the cafe to read their favourite books.
Ayush says that people need human contact and a sense of community to survive in the world. “We are humans and we need the contact of another human to let go of our emotions and share stories that can have a profound impact on the lives,” he says while talking about the motivation behind opening the cafe.
Ayush belongs from Bihar and is doing PhD from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He also owns Abhiprepana ATE World Talk – a start-up to inspire young individuals from experiences of distinguished personalities.
The cafe has been opened in April 2021 and has started inviting people for the meetup sessions. The enthusiastic learners need to pay Rs 1,100 for three months to avail the facilities of reading the books and attend the meetups. However, people need to pay for some of the sessions despite taking the subscription but can enjoy discounts offered by the cafe.
“I had started taking interviews of people in 2015, as part of my venture. During this time, I realised that a single conversation can change the world of people, especially the young ones,” he says.
Ayush has taken interviews of famed personalities like Javed Akhtar, Kailash Kher, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Birju Maharaj etc. “I believe that students can get a lot of inspiration from those who have done something different in their life than usual,” he adds.
Before the venture, Ayush had started an organisation named Young Association. Through this NGO, he and his team used to conduct various workshops and activities for children in slum areas and orphanages with an aim to engage them in studies.
Ayush also used to visit schools and colleges to speak on the “Role of Young People in the society”. He says that after talking to students he realised some of their common problems. “I spoke to so many students, especially, from North India who wanted to take “writing” or “acting” as a career. Though, they were not allowed to as their parents were not in favour owning to prejudices regarding Engineering and Medical,” he says.
“This is when I realised that such students might take motivation from those who opted for something other than these fields,” Ayush adds. For the same reason, he also invites people who are doing good in their life for the meetups, along with the renowned artists.
Ayush has also started Human Library Cafe e-magazine to inspire young minds. The magazine will offer various articles and features based on the common problems of students. One can avail of the magazine for Rs 299 for a year. The subscription will also offer other benefits like a 50% discount on workshops, festivals, open mics, etc.
Initiative for women upliftment
The cafe also has an eatery which serves the interest of the people who visit this place. However, to empower the women who are skilled in cooking, Ayush has decided to open the kitchen for them.
“Women from various areas can come to our kitchen to cook food and sell them to our guests,” Ayush says. He also adds that while the plan was to start offering this facility from April 15, he will postpone it to May 15 due to the Coronavirus situation in the country.
Ayush is likely to expand the cafe to other cities like Patna, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata etc.
Where: B 27/98, A – 8, Nawabganj Rd, Padampuri Colony, Durgakund, Jawahar Nagar Colony, Bhelupur, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221010
Timings: 11 am to 7 pm; Sunday closed