“Hey Alexa! Play a pop song,” Eve’s Coffee shop owner Beta Jayakumar calls out to the Amazon Echo resting beneath the large TV in the library. A chess set, ready to be played, sits between two green lounge chairs near a wall full of books. As music fills the vibrant interiors, he leads me to a green-painted room with three large tables on the right and a smaller one on the left along with a football table. In the shelves near the entrance are a TV, an X-box gaming console and joysticks while the cafe counter is at the far end. In short, life is good at Eve’s.
Crafted out of the first floor of Beta’s family house on Pettah-Venpalavattom road in Thiruvananthapuram, a steel stairway besides the house takes you to the coffee shop above. Entering a small waiting room, you are welcomed by a framed poster of Kung Fu Panda with the quote ‘there is no charge for awesomeness’. From there you go to the old balcony, which has been turned into a vibrant space, with tables overlooking the main road while chalk art, done by students of Government College of Fine Arts Thiruvananthapuram, adorns the black wall next to it. Further in lies the library and the cafe room.
But what makes Eve’s truly unique are the board games that Beta offers for customers to play free of cost, making it the first board game-based coffee shop in Thiruvananthapuram city. Shelves in the counter room are stacked with more than 130 games that he has painstakingly collected from all over the world.
“Some of it cost me a fortune. The most expensive and toughest of the lot are kept in the middle shelf,” Beta says, pointing to the boxes kept in the space above the TV.
Although born in Thiruvananthapuram, Beta grew up in Abu Dhabi. He returned to India to do his MBA, but went back after that and worked for years in a construction company there as HR manager. As is usually the case, Eve’s was born out of the corporate executive’s dreams of getting out of the corporate loop to open a coffee shop somewhere far away. “This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. Since Thiruvananthapuram is where my family is from, the choice was obvious. But the idea for board games came later,” he adds.
Off the grid
People, especially youngsters, sitting in cafes for long periods working on their phones or laptops was a ubiquitous sight for Beta during his days in UAE. “I myself have done that several times. So I thought it would be quite an achievement if I can get them off their gadgets while they are here in Eve’s. Plus, a board game cafe was something new to Thiruvananthapuram city,” Beta says. The other day, he adds, a guy was at the coffee shop with his friend and he was on his phone for a long time. When Beta enquired, he said it has become impossible for him to not check for updates every now and then.
“I asked him if he would mind playing a game of Jenga with his companion. He agreed but said that the phone would be with him while he played. The game went on for more than 40 minutes and the whole time he did not touch the phone even once” he adds.
A hands-on solution
The entrepreneur believes the addiction to smartphones and tablets is a serious issue and board games are his solution to the problem. Beta and his wife, Jessa Sheena, often join the visitors for games. “We show them how to play if it is a game we know. There are many in the collection that we are yet to learn.”
Beta’s favourite game is Happy Salmon, a fast, amusing card game that comes in a pretty salmon-shaped pouch. The adults game Cards Against Humanity is another house favourite while Jessa loves watching players getting the shock of their lives playing Bad Dog, a game which involves a battery-run English bull dog and several plastic bones.
A bookworm’s haven
The fun at Eve’s doesn’t end with board games alone. The in-house library has more than 1,600 books, including entire collections of Tintin and Asterix comics, while Beta also provides two e-book readers that holds another two million books!
“The collection belonged to a friend of mine and it took a lot to make him part with it,” he says. For those with artistic inclinations, there are Mandala colouring books, along with colour pencils. Visitors can either complete the page in one go or book the page for ₹50 and finish it another day. A place for family, friends and colleagues to enjoy and relax, that is what Eve’s is for Beta. He adds, “Families with kids would love to be here with all these games and activities. Corporate team-building exercises are getting popular here and that is another crowd that I would love to attract.”
Having grown up in Abu Dhabi during 1990s, Beta’s parents didn’t want him and his brother Alpha to face religious discrimination but they also wanted their names to be unique. Hence the names, Alpha and Beta.
Cup of freshness
Eve’s offers a range of hot and cold beverages such as different coffees, teas, frappés, crushers, mojitos and sundaes. Homemade cakes, quiches and chocolates too are on the menu. Have a cup of matcha latte with a piece of warm delicious apple-walnut cake while playing a game of scrabbles or sharing an adventure with Tintin.
Eve’s Coffee is open from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm on all days.
Article Sourced from “The Hindu”