An Indian Restaurant Tackles the Stigma of Women Dining Alone

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Riccardo Romano
Restaurants in social hubs such as markets, this one in Jodhpur, India, should welcome single women.

In many places across the world, single women dining alone are often subject to the society’s disapproving looks.

In India especially, eating out alone for a woman is well beyond the cultural norm. It is difficult for women to go to restaurants alone, without being judged or constantly harassed, as men ogle them and restaurant owners ask when the rest of their party is arriving. This ideology is deeply embedded in Indian culture and is a reflection of societies’ view of women as ‘less than independent.’

Take Anasuya Basu, who recently recounted to the BBC her experience of trying to dine alone in an upscale restaurant in central Delhi. After waiting for a table for an extended period of time, she was finally offered one in a dimly lit corner. She refused to accept the table and promptly demanded to be seated elsewhere.

This kind of behavior by the restaurant staff is not uncommon and can be witnessed at several establishments around the city. But things may be changing in South Delhi, where a new restaurant is catering to single women looking to eat in peace, and by themselves.

Manager and chef, Mary Lalboi differentiates her restaurant from others through her treatment of female customers. “I never turn away a lone woman customer no matter how busy the restaurant is. I am here to build a brand on the strength of the quality of my service and goodwill to my customers.”

A rare gem, Mary Labloi’s establishment reflects a more forward thinking and accepting ideology. Having lived in Delhi my entire life, I don’t think I have ever dined alone. With areas such as Khan Market and Hauz Khas Village serving as social hubs, restaurants here should be more open to single women looking to grab a bite.