Seva Cafe: Living is Giving
Imagine a restaurant where there are no prices on the menu and where the check reads Rs.0 with only this footnote: "Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those dine after you."
That's Seva Cafe, a experiment in 'peer to peer' generosity.
Driven by volunteers and operated by modest staff, our meals are cooked and served with love, and offered to the guest as a genuine gift. To complete the full circle of giving and sustain this experiment, guests make contributions in the spirit of pay-it-forward to those who will come after them. In keeping this chain going, the generosity of both guests and volunteers helps to create a future that moves from transaction to trust, from self-oriented isolation to shared commitment, and from fear of scarcity to celebration of abundance.
At Seva Cafe, we serve with the spirit of "Atithi Devo Bhava" which translates to "The Guest is God," a deep and ancient Indian view that honors each guest with reverence. We're all used to the concept of offering a meal to family or a friend who visits our home, but at Seva Cafe, we extend this generosity to a stranger we don't even know. The guests are told we trust them to accept this gift and pay forward the generosity so that this experiment can continue.
When you dine at Seva Cafe, you are not viewed as a customer, but instead as our treasured guest, as part of our family.
Seva means service. When immersed in the heart of Seva, one finds a pathway to the Divine, and its this connectedness to which we ultimately aspire. Volunteering at Seva Cafe is a conscious exercise in staying tuned to that deep and true space of genuine service.
As more participate in the joy of giving, the more the experiment thrives. It begins with a single gift: first given, then received... multiplied, and given again, in a growing chain of kindness and care. We hope this Circle of Giving leaves you feeling more nourished, and inspired to carry the experiment forward.
All costs and income are made transparent, and 100% of any profits are used to support social service projects!
7pm - 10pm
6 Days a Week! Closed on Mondays
until 50 guests are served.
Shopper's Plaza, 4th Floor
Opp Municipal Market,
C.G. Road, Abad, Gujarat
Tel: +91 9924490213
To volunteer, please contact us. For updates, visit us on FaceBook.
Ten Rupee Gift in Pune
Scalability of Generosity
Forbes India covers Seva Cafe : 'Serving Generosity on a Platter'
A TEDx talk by a volunteer who served at Seva Cafe
And ... United States
Videos, Photos and Stories
In 2013, when Seva Cafe started a pilot in Mumbai, some of the moments were caught on tape:
For more photos and stories, check out Siddharth's Blog.
About Circle of Giving
In our society, the typical model of exchange is that money is traded for a commodity or a service. The principal glue that holds this together is fairness. At its best, both parties feel good about the exchange.
In a family, the typical model of exchange is based on giving. The principal glue that holds this together is love. At its best, all parties appreciate this unspoken bond of support and everyone contributes in their own way.
At Seva Cafe, we're experimenting in bringing the family model of exchange - or love-based giving - into the context of a typically non-family environment - in this case, a restaurant. The bigger idea is that we really are all in this life together as one big family - its just a matter of perception - and the more we open our hearts and expand our circle of love, the warmer a world we will all share.
We practice giving at Seva Cafe by serving with love simply for the joy that comes from true service, seeking nothing else in return. We offer our meals as a gift, with no prices, because we want our gift to be received as a gift, unconditionally.
Seva Cafe does not have deep funds to sustain this experiment and we'll admit that it can be at times a challenge. Our ability to give in this way is entirely dependent on whether the giving flows in a full circle. We encourage our guests to give fully, with their hearts, because we are all in this giving-experiment together and can all grow from it. By each contributing in our own ways - just like in a family - we are sustaining a love-based community - a priceless island of support in a world that's not always fair.
As we expand the Circle of Giving, we move closer toward a global family, where we each care for and carry one another. Though perhaps a distant dream, it sure feels good to begin.