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Singapore offers "priceless" food

Singapore's Annalakshmi Indian restaurant has all the hallmarks of an expensive night out but there's no bill at the end of the night.

by: Reuters | 09 Mar 2007

Instead of a hefty bill, prepare to be greeted by smiling staff who urge you to pay as much as you want and remind you that it's all for charity.

Named after the Hindu goddess of nourishment, Annalakshmi's philosophy is "eat to your heart's content, give as you feel." The vegetarian restaurant, part of a welfare organization, is run largely by volunteers, most of them devotees of Hindu monk Swami Shantanand who preached love for God through service to mankind.

"Businesses usually wait until they've made a profit to think about giving to society, but we started giving from the start," Suresh Krishnan, who manages the restaurants, told Reuters.

"There are tables who can pay, and those who can't, so what we provide is a form of table-to-table charity. And the people who work with us do so for the satisfaction, not the reward."

Annalakshmi has three outlets in Singapore, and eateries in Malaysia, Australia and India. Staff range from retired civil servants to women from broken homes to executives and doctors who believe serving and preparing food is the ultimate blessing.

Any money left after covering costs is donated to the Temple of Fine Arts, a religious and cultural organization set up by the monk, who believed music, art and dance are a form of the divine.

The organization also runs free medical clinics in Malaysia and India and raises funds through "pay as you want" artistic performances and the sale of the Indian handicrafts and paintings that adorn the interiors of the restaurants. fingers.

"We pay with satisfaction and keep coming back," said Kanchi Seshagiri Rao, regional director for technology firm IGTL Solutions. "There is a price for everything in today's world, but you can't put a price on the love and the food you get here."

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