Gajra Cafe: The First Queer-Led Cafe In Gujarat By MCSU

Gajra Cafe opened 18th August 2023 in the city of Vadodara with prime focus on inclusivity and creating an inclusive space where everyone can work together.

Gujarat has recently opened its first LGBTQIA+ Cafe through its Gajra Cafe. It is an initiative to bring in people from the community to be a part of the business. As per report by Dhariya Gajara, the cafe is being supported by the Vododra royal family, and will be fully managed by members of the queer community. The cafe is located inside Maharani Chimnabai Stree Udyogalay (MCSU) near Sursagar Lake in Vadodara, Gujarat. It’s a first of its kind inclusive cafe, re-installing the spirits to keep the quest for culture, craft, cuisine and inclusivity by MCSU going on.

MCSU is one of the earliest self governing women’s charitable organizations in the country and has been founded on the philosophy of achieving female empowerment through learning and earning. The CEO of MCSU (Maharani Chinmabai Stree Udyoygalay) Meghal Shah, spoke to Gaysi and said that the cafe has two reasons behind its inception. MCSU as an organization aims to build livelihood and work experience for the queer community of Vadodara, and also promote the idea of gender in an inclusive sense where it is not merely limited to the binaries of men and women.

The organization Maharani Chimnabai Stree Udyogalay is a prestigious women’s institution which was envisioned and spearheaded by Maharani Chimnabai II to develop enterprise among the womenfolk of Baroda state. The queen yearned to give the women a platform to explore their creativity, learn vocational skills and earn a livelihood. They also run courses for beauty parlor, kathak, music and tailoring. It is primarily a vocational training center established in the year 1914 by the Royal Gaekwad family of Vadodara to build an empowered and exclusive society. 

Further, in the past 3-4 years, the organization has also been supportive of the queer community, mostly providing support to events like pride marches. The organization has feminist roots through its work on women empowerment and through the Gajra Cafe, it is expanding the idea of providing a platform for exploring creativity, learning vocational skills, and earning livelihood to the queer community. The cafe also focuses primarily on Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine as its specialty.

Gajra Cafe opened 18th August 2023 in the city of Vadodara with prime focus on inclusivity and creating an inclusive space where everyone can work together.

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Rajeev completed their under graduation in Political Science Hons. from Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi in 2020. They graduated with Masters in Women’s Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in 2022 and were a participant at the International Writing Program’s Summer Institute, University of Iowa for the 2021-22 session. They have been the recipient of Mavelinadu Collective’s grant for non-fiction for the first issue of Debrahminising Gender. Their work can be found in EPW, Women’s Link Journal, Shuddhashar, Gaysi Family, Feminism in India and Hindu College Gazette among others. Their research interests include queer experiences, feminist ethics of care, and masculinities.

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