A 24-year-old, who says that the act of stabbing people at their back is an in-built trait, has come up with a café which deals with something interesting: betrayal. The Café aims to provide the customers with a rich experience of deceit and depression. Set in a backdrop of Judas kissing Jesus, and an Aashiq Banaya Aapne poster, and with Mark Zuckerberg at the inauguration, it will reaffirm that we all need to cheat someone to reach to the top, and that it’s nothing to be guilty about.
“Those who aren’t familiar with the Orwellian classic 1984 would not understand the significance of the name, but I am confident my café is going to be a big hit.” Justifying this statement in an exclusive interview, BB said, “Chestnut Tree is a café with a cause; while all other establishments are concerned with trivial services like food, entertainment and a good time, we cater to the deepest and most important qualities of a human being—betrayal and deceit.”
Features of the “Betrayal Café”: The Chestnut Tree is a 70-seater café, overlooking the sea. It has dingy yellow walls with symbolic cracks in them, chess boards to motivate strategic scheming and an assortment of clove-flavoured bites and gin. To set up perfect dates for friends-that-were, each table is illuminated with a single yellow bulb, creating a fitting ambience of uncomfortable interrogation. Since no act of treachery is complete without background music, a Tele-screen has been installed that always plays a selection of songs with betrayal as their theme. The greatest attraction however, is a giant poster that hangs in the middle of the largest wall—depicting the face of a man, about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features. His eyes seem to follow you wherever you go; BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. Captioned underneath, is the motto of the Café:
“In Chestnut Tree, that overlooks the sea,
I sold you and you sold me.”
Enquired about the kind of crowd he is expecting, BB revealed that his café was open to anyone—from a schoolboy who decided to ditch his best friend to work on a project with the class topper at the last minute, to a colleague who snitched about you at work, to a girl fooling around with a friend’s boyfriend. “My services are offered to every Indian without a bias, ranging from Sonia Gandhi—who can finally break it to Manmohan Singh that he’s just a poster boy—to Ranbir Kapoor to ditch his latest fling. We are quite versatile that way!” exclaims BB.
The Café aims to provide the customer with a rich experience of deceit and depression. The artwork in the Café is carefully chosen—Judas kissing Jesus, a family portrait of Adam and Eve with the Serpent and Apple, and an original poster of Aashiq Banaya Aapne depicting romantic betrayal.
“It is our aim, to not only provide the perfect setting for treachery, but also to inspire and bring out the worst in our customers. The Café has some exciting activities lined up—debates, guest lectures on how to intoxicate the mind from a guilty conscience, book clubs to study the history of treason etc. I am very excited to announce that on the grand opening, Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to put in a special appearance via the Tele-screen. He will address the crowd on the intricacies of betrayal and share expert tips on theft of intellectual property.”
BB’s confidence in the Café made me wonder out loud, if this had always been his plan. BB revealed that he had initially wanted to be a social entrepreneur, but after reading 1984, he just knew for sure that this was the venture he wanted to work with. “I mean, so many people are into mind-games and guilt-free deception but what about the rest of us; the ones who need the reassurance that it’s okay to sell someone out for the greater good? I mean, do you have any idea about the kind of health hazards and trauma people go through in life, over-analyzing their inherent trait for survival? This café will reaffirm that they are not alone, that we all need to step on someone to reach to the top, that it’s nothing to be guilty about.
“Take the Café for example; do you think it was my idea? Hell no! My best friend came up with it. I convinced him that it was no good and made him accept the offer from Yale so that he was out of the way. I went behind his back and set it up. He will be the first person I’ll bring here. I think we will move past this and remain good friends. His friendship means a lot to me. So you see, I have cheated, you have cheated. We don’t need to make a big deal out of it, but just focus on the bigger picture. That is what the Chestnut Tree is all about—the bigger picture; because ends always justify the means now, don’t they?”
BB confides with a smile, “I intend to bring a revolution. Just as ‘we need to talk’ is synonymous with breakup, people saying ‘let’s meet up at the Chestnut’ would mean betrayal in the near future. I have high hopes for my Café!”
The Chestnut Tree promises to be the perfect setting for that ultimate showdown you’ve been putting off. BB and his venture inspire great confidence in your ability to finally push that dagger in. The Chestnut Tree Café opens coming Friday in Bandra.
This article is by Brototi Roy, and has been edited by Apoorva Tapas. Both Brototi and Apoorva are interning with NTMN in our 2012 Internship-cum-Training Program.