“I went to Pondicherry to learn pottery. While I was there, I started meeting these women who were from a very poor background and they were very ambitious. They wanted to do something, you know? I was there for a year and a half. I met about 20+ women there. A polish guy used to teach these women how to make handicrafts and my job was to teach them pottery and newspaper baskets. On my 25th birthday, my parents asked me what I wanted. I told them I wanted to bring those women to Bangalore and give them a space where they can sell their products.”

“There were around 20 women from there and a few here. I had to make sure I gave them a space which they can call ‘Home’. One way to bring them all together was through food. It was very tough initially because as stewards, everyone needs to be confident but the women and even the boys who work here, are very insecure because they come from alcohol abused backgrounds. Psychologically it is very tough for them to make a connection with a guest. The whole idea of me, building this, was to give them a space where they feel safe, they can learn things and build their confidence. This would also mean that, they don’t need to depend on their husbands/dads and they can take care of themselves.”

“It’s been a tough journey monetarily but there has been tremendous support from family, friends and acquaintances. We used to serve sheesha before and a PU kid read out the 1st page of our menu which says the cause of Teal Door. A week later he brought a lady from his area who has been a victim of domestic violence. During our trial run, I had my friends and their friends come over to try out our café, they helped me with small gestures of taking the used plates off the table etc. Beyond all this, what really matters is when we give our salaries, to everyone who works here, they know this is their home and they know Teal Door is a place where they can depend on as ‘Safe’. This is what we work for, every single day. I am Shruthi and we are The Teal Door Cafe.”