Walk into Bailout Cafe in Saharanpur and words like “corrupt”, “scary” and “rude” pop out at you from a stone wall. This unusual decor choice stems from a survey where people were asked to describe, in one word, the police — the ones running this establishment.
The cafe and this ‘wall of perception’, says an officer, is an attempt to bring residents and the police closer in an informal setting.
“The idea of a cafe was sanctioned by the SSP and we began working on it in December. It was quite an uphill task since all of it had to be managed while the police duties continued. Even elections took place in between. But we wanted to create a unique space for everyone,” said Preeti Yadav, CO City 1, who designed the cafe.
Once a dilapidated canteen with barely any sitting arrangement, the cafe, situated inside the police lines, now boasts of bright pink exteriors, an entrance paved with locally-sourced marble and stones, and exterior and interior seating of over 40.
The decor uses recycled material — a fountain made with bottles as conduits and bulbs fitted inside cheese graters doubling up as lamps.
Two boards on the entrance list out instructions. One of them is that the cafe does not provide wifi in order to encourage interactions and conversations between people and police.
“Most of the materials have been sourced from the local market. For instance we made messages on wood boards that are leftovers in furniture manufacturing,” said Yadav, a third-generation police personnel from her family.
The proceeds from the cafe will go to the department’s coffers.
In the afternoon, policemen could be seen having a cold beverage during a quick break from duty. Young students stood outside the pink gate clicking selfies. Wives of policemen came with their friends to show them around.
“This is a blessing for us. Where we generally live are very small quarters. We are unable to invite anyone. With this place, we can hold gatherings with our family. Even host birthday parties for children,” said a constable visiting the cafe.
The cafe has slowly started to create a buzz in the area. Locals in the area are quick to point out directions. “I saw pictures of the cafe and it looks appealing. Even though we usually don’t visit police lines unless there is an issue. But it appears to be a place where we can go with friends. I would most definitely like to visit the cafe,” said Akash, a college student.