Book Cafe With A Difference

By: Vijay Kumar Verma, Editor-ICN Group
SHIMLA: The unique cafe, built by the Shimla Municipal Corporation and Himachal Tourism Development Corporation under Shimla beautification plan, that offers a serene reading place with splendid titles and educational books stacked in a beautiful ambience  enjoyed by locals and tourists alike with steaming hot coffee and snacks and drinks may also not make a news.
But the fact that the Book Cafe opened  just a few days ago that is on 11th April 2017 is being run by two jail inmates convicted for life under section 302 of the Indian Penal Court, certainly  makes an interesting news.
The fact that the eatables being offered for sale in the cafe are baked in the Sub Jail of Shimla at Kaithu by a group of ten convicts, adds value to the news. An applaudable case of reforming culprits ofcourse.
The natural instinct of nose for news drove me to the Book Cafe located a few meters above the State Library building and the historic church, on way to the popular Jakhu temple. The itch was to gather some interesting facts on the story more than enjoying a cup of hot coffee.
Overlooking a breathtaking locale beautified with  stone flooring and granite benches, the beautiful single story structure of Himachali architecture drew me in.
A  chargeable place @ one Taka per entry (the smallest denominations  of Indian coins)some decades ago,  the park is now free for visitors.
A look around the serene surrounding showed a family enjoying cold drinks and pizza with two youngsters while looking through the glass window at beautiful hillscapes at a distance. A lonely foreigner I found was lost in a book on Himachal temples.
The book shelf adorned a number of titles donated by people from their collection, as i later learnt. An awowed  book  reader may come across rare titles too to gobble with snacks for hours together.
A smiling middle aged  person behind the counter drew my attention as I approached the place for gathering information.Was that truly a unique case of Jail reforms being practiced by the government of Himachal Pradesh, I wanted to ensure.
I learnt that the unique experiment was the brain child of Sumesh Goyal, Inspector General of Prisons and Corrective Law,  who impressed upon the Shimla Municipal Corporation and the Himachal Tourism to join the initiative to help in this reformation mission.
The cafe had been built at a cost of about Rs.20 lac for the tourists while the mission creeped in subsequently. The smiling man behind the counter was eager to serve me with some drinks but I was much more concerned for the information.  It is true that just newsy information was enough to quench the instincts of a journalist.
To Be Continued.…..

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