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Friday, 29 December 2017

Food with Love : This cafe in Navi Mumbai hires transgender staff

Food with Love <3Sana Khanna would earlier give badhai — a custom believed to bring luck — at functions. Today, she serves food at the Third Eye café in Navi Mumbai, her life changed and confidence boosted. From being rejected for jobs because she is transgender, she now walks confidently, serving food to guests.

“Although we say Indian society is changing, that’s not really the case. We are still looked at differently by people,” said Khanna.

However, Nimesh Shetty, owner of the restaurant at Palm Beach Road, wants to change the perception people have towards the community. “I am not trying to sell the café through the transgender staff. I want to do it based on food and ambience. This is just a platform for this community to get better jobs,” said Shetty.

The cafe currently has six transgender employees, four of whom work as table attendants, one is in the kitchen, while one works as the manager. The restaurant employs around 20 people.

“Everyone can show sympathy or try to have empathy, but that’s not what the community needs. They need to good jobs,” said Shetty.

Gauri Sawant, a transgender activist, said people are usually scared and have fixed notion about the transgender community, which is why it is necessary to change the perception.

According to Sawant, this may be the first restaurant in the country to have such a large proportion of transgender staff.

“It is for the first time that transgenders are being taken out of sex work and begging. We have always petitioned for equal rights, but that hasn’t come through yet. Let’s hope this is a good beginning,” said Sawant.

Sawant also added that although the workers would earn lesser in a restaurant that they would earn by begging, sex work or badhai, it would give them a better exposure and they would then be able to explore other professional options.

However, Ami Mehta, a human resources personnel, said, “Nobody really hires transgender because people do not accept them and they are made fun of, and there is no reservation fixed for the community, unlike the disabled who have a quota for government jobs.”

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