Digital Desk: In Kolkata's Ballygunge suburb, a cafe owned by seven HIV-positive youngsters is attracting prejudice-free customers from all walks of life while also dispelling myths about the disease.
Dr Kallol Ghosh's 'Positive Cafe,' which began in a 100-square-foot garage in Jodhpur Park in 2018, has just switched locations and expanded to larger premises in Ballygunge to suit the "increasing demand of clients."
"Our regular customers don't have any reservations about visiting a location managed by HIV-positive persons," Ghosh told PTI on Monday, who claimed this was Asia's first such café. We give every visitor a pamphlet with all the information about the café."
Ghosh, who runs an NGO for HIV-positive kids, recalled that finding a location for the cafe was challenging at first, but that after some persuasion, the landlord of a detached building in Jodhpur agreed to rent out the garage to him.
"However, some neighbours protested our effort, claiming that the rubbish generated by our cafe could spread AIDS in the area. After all, it was an upmarket neighbourhood in South Kolkata," he explained.
It was shut during the lockdown but re-opened after an NGO took care of its staff and patrons. 'Positive Cafe' outlets will be opened in four shopping malls in the city in the coming days.
An '18-year-old youngster' serving pasta to a group of customers said, 'We are no different from others and should not be treated as pariahs,' Sidhu da (Siddhartha Ray) of 'Cactus' band visited our cafe several times and encouraged us to keep working hard, said the cafe owner.