Ajo. The name itself arouses images of a culture, beautiful yet on the verge of being lost. Ajo simply means ‘unknown’, something we can all identify with, lost in a world of confusion where everyday it becomes harder to understand who we really are. Indeed, it is quite hard to come across cafés these days which can successfully blend the global with the local, to truly become ‘glocal’.
Khalid, the co-owner of the newly opened ‘Ajo’ pledges to thus remind us of who we really are and yet preserve the memory of who we have become.
Located at Dhanmondi, Road Number 7/A, House 60, as a part of Dhaka Arts Centre, right next to the cultural hub of the lakeside, ‘Ajo’ is indeed a café with a difference. Inexpensive food, a noticeable difference in the environment and a menu representing the best of all worlds,
Ajo instantly makes a mark on its customers. Successfully implementing the 18-step retailing process, Ajo leaves an immediate impression even on the most casual of observers. After the ‘wow’ effect at the fourth step, Ajo soon lets its culinary delights do the talking.
But Ajo is much more than the food itself. The whole place has a fascinating story to tell and looking around one can collect the pieces of this tale for themselves. The architectural beauty, the concepts and designs used to create Ajo are unique in their own right. Comprising of 80 percent recycled materials, the café can be considered extremely environmentally friendly.
A crow’s nest chandelier, use of discarded ship’s floorboards and metals, discarded transistors and even self-made bulb-holders, all exude a feel of an ambience surreal. Following patterns inspired by a century old Buddhist temple, the place advocates the Zen philosophy, luring visitors to a sense of peace and tranquility whilst sitting in the middle of the bustling Dhanmondi area.
A choice of casual or relaxed dining awaits the clients, who may choose any of the five sitting areas, including a smoking area and even an air-conditioned area with a bookshelf filled with books in place. Ajo doesn’t try to characterise its customers, opening their doors to people from all walks of life, incorporating everyone’s whims and wishes in one quiet retreat.
‘Cafés should match our culture, not create an artificial ambience.’ Khalid states, whilst displaying the tea cup which is styled to a completely local design. Head-Office Communication indeed worked hard to realise this difficult concept of not only blending various cultures, but also keeping one in its rightful pedestal. Ajo, the name itself, credits no particular language, a testament to what the project delivers. ‘We don’t try to over-sell.’ Khalid concludes, though they do strive to over-deliver. From Reshmi Kebab to steak, Ajo has a menu to serve everyone complemented with an aura like no other. Though Ajo’s journey has just started, if they continue in their current vein, it is clear that they can indeed go the distance.
By Osama Rahman