Bambai Nazariya Cafe: A food joint in Mumbai run by kinnars attempting to change perception towards the stigmatized community

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Sunday, April 03, 2022, 11:44 AM IST
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Diego Miranda with co-founder Glenis D'sa and their team |

A hotel management graduate, 28-year-old Diego Miranda co-founded a cafe in Versova, Andheri ‘Bambai Nazariya’ which is run by his team from the marginalized kinnar community. With the tagline ‘Nazariya Badlo, Nazara Badlega’, the two-month old enterprise is attempting to change the perception towards the stigmatized community and give them the acceptance and respect they deserve. Excerpts from an interview with Bhavna Uchil:

How did the idea come about? Any past interactions with the community that led to it?

The inspiration was my father who was very good with the community. Since I was little, I would see that the community was never accepted. But my father always treated them well and said that if you are ever in a position of doing something, help them out. Those words always stayed with me. Seven years ago, this idea was born to my partner Glenis (D'sa) and me when I was studying hotel management. But there was no money then. For three years we sold burgers and hotdogs on the street and then, due to a certain circumstances, I had to take up a sales job. But we always had it in the back of our minds that we had to do this. Glen has been my main support. She said, if not now, then when? So, I quit my job and here I am.

What was the response you got when you discussed the idea with your friends or family?

At that time only a close friend of mine knew of it. Before opening the cafe, we spoke with some people, but we did not get a good response. There were people saying “Inke haath ka koi khayega kya, koi aayega kya?”. We asked them if they would, they said 'yes', so we remained positive.

Tell me about the kind of response you have been getting from customers.

The response has been overwhelming. Many people are supporting the cause and coming to our cafe. Recently some college students had come with their parents for a project. One of the parents said that earlier she used to be afraid of them (kinnars), but she felt good speaking with them. There are other people who visit, who are pleasantly surprised. People from outside Mumbai contact us on social media and say that whenever they are in Mumbai, they will surely visit us.

How did the tagline for your cafe ‘Nazariya Badlo, Nazariya Badlega’ come about and are you seeing that happening in your cafe?

The tagline was suggested by a friend who works at Humsafar Trust. It sounded just right, because that is what we want to do, we wanted to change the perception of people towards the community. Definitely the outlook is changing towards them and we see that happening.

Tell us about your employees.

We have presently only three presently from the community, whom Humsafar Trust and Tweet Foundation helped us find. One of them had worked in a trans-led cafe earlier. But we were not looking for them to have experience in hospitality either. We don’t try to make them feel it's a job. We have designed the cafe too as a simple, home environment where the guests feel at home and experience their hospitality.

How do you think they differ as employees?

I feel they are more hardworking because this job gives them acceptance. People are giving them respect now, which they missed. So, they in turn shower the guests with extra love and affection.

What do you have to say to employers who may consider employing them?

People should go ahead and employ them, they make good employees. They just need a chance. Change and acceptance is necessary. I would say, ‘Nazariya badlo, Nazara badlega’.

Tell us about some specialty dishes.

We are known for our ‘pink chai’, a kashmiri chai, also known as called 'noon chai' in which we use dehydrated beetroot for colour. Besides that, we have the Mumbai street food.

What are your plans for the cafe?

As of now, we have just started and we are enjoying the journey.

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