Well, honestly it was always on cards while visiting Agra. Honestly also, the trip to Sheroes Hangout meant for us more than a stopover for a food to a restaurant. Also, because Sheroes symbolises the strength of the human spirit against all odds. We also needed to visit this place to realise the tough times we live in! For anybody coming to this place a restaurant run by women survivors of acid attacks is altogether a different experience. Therefore, I feel that for any tourist coming to Agra this place is a must-visit.
A visit to place like this make you more humble and perhaps more committed and strong. Its a great inspiration. Agra is said to be place for monument of love, but I have no doubt in saying that in Agra Sheroes hangout is actually the real monument of love and compassion. Sheroes is an initiative by Stop Acid Attacks campaign that was founded in New Delhi in 2013. As the idea of this space has evolved from a campaign for acid attack survivors, the ideas of beauty and importance of appearance in society remain the epicentre of discussions and programmes run from here. This is world’s first cafe chain run by female acid attack survivors.
Hence, at the helm of the Sheroes Hangout are the women who have fought back for life and survival through heinous chemical burns and are now on a course to define themselves. They are courageous fighters who walk with scars on their skins but not on spirits. They are the real heroes- ‘She Heroes’. There are five of them here- Dolly, Geeta, Rupa, Neetu and Ritu Saini, – all with their different stories and distinctive strengths which give countless others across country a hope to fight and live. They have got the confidence to show their disfigured faces in public but actually they are showing the mirror to the society, that how disfigured its face has become.
At Sheroes hangout empowerment of women is embodied in form of a readers’ cafe, an activism workshop, a community radio hub and a exhibit space where works crafted by Sheroes are on display. There are books on the shelf, that you can just pull and read, while you have your tea.
The new wave of feminism evolves at the hangout through critical issues that cripple women and devoid them of equal opportunities. Women here manage the counters, take the orders, serve food, and engage visitors in full delight with their heroic stories of resilience.
Coming to the place, it couldn’t have been better located, right on the main Fatehabad road which is hub of all the tourist activities in Agra and close to most of the hotels. Small but neat place. There is a terrace kitchen on the upper floor. Ambience is just perfect to reflect the story behind the restaurant. The women and support staff are brilliant and humble. Independent of everything else, the food we had that day was best we could have- honey chilli potato, noodles and cutlets with few rounds of tea. The restaurant serves snacks as well as full course meals.
Another unique thing about this place is the pay as you wish concept. No items in the menu are priced. At the end, you can pay whatever you think is the suitable amount. Few might not be comfortable with this, but it works well with the overall idea of the restaurant. Sheroes also has free wi-fi to remain connected while you get involved in books, coffees and hot discussions. Tourists from world over are coming here.
Since it started almost two years back, there had been numerous high-profile visits and various high-idea workshops here. Probably this society laced with hatred needs a lot more.
The women here also sell some merchandise and the income goes for the fight against acid attacks. There is a beautiful desktop calendar, T-shirts and dresses. Make sure to visit here next time you go to Agra. For all those, who are interested, Sheroes hangouts has now also come up at Lucknow.