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A lot can happen over coffee....only if you are allowed to sit at a CCD outlet!

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 1:55 AM in , ,
Cafe Coffee Day is no more a new name for the youngsters in India. For a warm cup of coffee at an affordable price, thats where we generally go to! But more than the cup of coffee, its the atmosphere of Café Coffee Days which attracts all of us. An informal setup...good beverage and snacks...soothing music (most of the time)...complimentary wi-fi (at many outlets)...well, CCD always had a lot to offer its customers.

Photo source - https://www.zomato.com/pune/cafe-coffee-day-2-koregaon-park

For Siddhartha, coffee always used to be an experience to be offered...not just beans to be grown. I have had my job interview conducted at a CCD outlet. I have hosted and attended several community meetups at different CCD outlets across the country. I have even had my coffee dates at CCDs. Well, truely, a lot has happened in my life over coffee...at different CCD outlets.

Once, Siddhartha himself had spent his new year's eve, serving customers at a Café Coffee Day (CCD) outlet near Calcutta’s Woodburn Street and was surprised by the way a few customers never returned a smile or thanked him for the service! I had totally admired Siddhartha while reading his journey of building CCD.

Then what has suddenly changed so much for CCDs? Is it the pressure of competition from other growing coffee outlets or is it the pride of success? Why has CCD's service suddenly declined so much?

A few of us were sitting at Koregaon Park CCD this weekend. We have been hosting our community meetups at this outlet since 2011. We met at 10am, for our monthly meeting. The place was completely empty. Well, Saturday morning, 10am...we didn't expect much crowd at the CCD outlet anyway. It all began when one of us went up to the counter, to ask for the direction to the washroom. As already stated, we have been hosting our meetings at this venue for the last four years, so we knew for sure that there was a washroom, behind the building. But, to our surprise, the lady at the counter (her name was Laxmi Yalla), just rudely denied the existence of any washroom at that outlet. Surprised, my friend asked her specifically about the one behind the outlet. She replied that it was leaking and thus was closed. There is no issue about a washroom not being available or being closed. The issue was with the way she was talking to us. Using a washroom at a CCD outlet is not a crime, as far as my legal knowledge goes! So, I don't see much reason for someone needing to be rude about being asked the direction to a washroom.

We had not even spent our initial 10 minutes at the outlet when the same lady walked up to our table and in a very rude voice asked us to place the order or leave the place. I was shocked! Never have we been treated this way at any coffee outlets before. Well, we were anyway planning to get a few cups of coffee so we went ahead and placed our orders.

In the middle of our discussion, one of our team members decided to take some notes of the ongoing discussion. He went up to the counter to ask for a tissue paper. Laxmi, drove him away, saying she didn't have tissue papers! Wait, this was now getting a little uncomfortable. The way she was behaving with us, we were starting to get frustrated. No tissue paper at a CCD outlet, you want us to believe that? Well, we still didn't react and went on with our meeting.

It was not even 20 minutes since we had completed out coffees, when the lady came back and this time she screamed at us to leave the place. She said it was a rule that we cannot sit for more than an hour at a CCD outlet and cannot use this place for our meetings. This time it was too much! We all decided to leave the place immediately and never use another CCD outlet for our meetings.

This incident made me wonder, if it was just this one person or if CCD was coming up with these new rules? Was customer service taking a back seat over business? What could be a valid reason for chasing customers away from an empty outlet?

Well, not sure if all of my questions can be answered. But for sure, for a while now, I will not be visiting another CCD outlet and nor will I be able to convince the rest of my community members to visit one! Good experiences are easily forgotten...but a bad experience is tough to wipe out of memory!

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My Sunday Spent with Real Angels

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 6:08 AM in , , , ,
There are those rare days in life, when you come home with a guilt in your heart...the guilt of having so much in life, but still not being content whereas, there are so many people out there, with so little and yet so happy! The last Sunday was one of those days for me.

While driving down to Sarthak Seva Sangh, little did I know of what I was about to experience there. Sarthak Seva Sangh Orphanage is an initiative started by Dr. Anil Kudia to help make a difference to the lives of unfortunate street children. Some of these children are motherless and orphans and some are newborn babies who are absolutely directionless.The place currently hosts around 60 children. As a part of Mozilla's and Mile's initiative, we were to go there and teach basics of computer and internet to the kids.

When we reached there, we were welcomed by the manager of the place (sorry for not remembering his name). He took us around the entire place, showing us the current infrastructure as well as explaining us all the future plans they have for Sarthak. A new building is under construction and once thats done, Sarthak can host around 200 children under its roof. From libraries to counseling rooms, from guest rooms to computer labs, their new building is going to have them all. This will definitely be way more than just a shelter for street kids....its going to be filled with all the facilities required to turn these kids into awesome human beings of tomorrow's world.

The new Sarthak building...under construction
After the quick tour, we started interacting with the kids. I was amazed when every kid introduced himself (or herself) in English...proper, correct English. We then started talking about computers. Again, it was not very surprising this time that almost all the kids knew what computers were. A few even knew to work on a computer...doing simple things like creating spreadsheets or writing documents or even painting. Next we tried explaining them what the internet is. What all things we can do on the internet and why it is such an important resource for us today. We even got two laptops out and made them do simple things like type their names on a document or do some simple painting on gimp.



These kids had so much life...so much enthusiasm...so much energy. They laughed out loud...ran across the building...played with all of us...enjoyed the treat of chocolate...as if they lacked nothing in life. Some had horrible pasts, some didn't have a family at all...but none of these could reduce the sparkle in each tiny eyes. Each of them had a dream, a dream to be a someone when they grew up. Some wanted to be a doctor, some a cricketer, some a boxer and some an engineer...but they all had dreams.




We laughed with them...we played with them...we taught them...we learnt from them...we ate with them...they brought back the kids in us and made us all relive our childhood.



Kudos to the people who put in so much effort in running the place, in taking such great care of these children. Dr. Anil is to be respected for all of these work, but one of his thought that totally shook me was when he pointed out that there was not a single religious items anywhere in the entire premise. He didn't want to give these children a religion. He wanted to create human beings. And the day these children got mature enough to judge for themselves, they could decide whether they would want to go to a temple, a church, a mosque or a gurudwara!


That evening, when I got back home, I was happy and sad at the same time. I was happy to have spent an awesome day. I was sad and guilty that I had so much in life...probably everything I could want from life and yet I had so many complaints against life...so much to be upset about. These children had so little but had no complaints at all.That day, these kids taught an important lesson of life....to LIVE!


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