It was a beautiful day. Humidity was at its peak. Temperature was soaring. I was getting thirsty every 30 mins. My black kurta was drenched in sweat, and my long hair were coaxing me to use the rubber band. But I didn’t want to break the character. With a bindi on my forehead, I was dressed in a long Red Skirt which was teamed up with a Black Kurta. With this, my long hair looked good only when they were left on their own, and not when tied up in a bun or a ponytail. That day, I didn’t feel any less than a character from Anurag Basu’s, ‘Stories by Rabindranath Tagore’. I couldn’t keep calm because I was too happy. Too happy to be bothered by the sweat, humidity or soaring sun. Too happy to be bogged down by the judgemental stares of strangers. Too happy to be contained by thoughts. It was indeed a beautiful day.
We started with Victoria’s Memorial, visited Jorasonko Badi, Eden Gardens & ended up in the College Street by afternoon. It was time for a meal. More than the food, I was excited about the place that served the food. The place that’s been a hub of ‘adda sessions’ for the intelligentsia of Kolkata for decades now.
Yes, I am talking about the Indian Coffee House of College Street, Kolkata.
There are places that are a melting pot of culture, heritage & legacy of a city – all in one. And there are places that become a favourite of the masses in no time, and attract crowds that know no boundaries & no restrictions. And then, there is Indian Coffee House of College Street, Kolkata.
Famous for preserving the culture of ‘adda session’ of Kolkata & for being the central hub of conversations between artists, film makers, writers, students & popular personalities of the city, Indian Coffee House is a place like no other. When you are in the coffee house, you don’t want to be in any place of the world. Not at that moment.
A narrow staircase opened up to a great hall with super-high ceiling, and there! I was in the Indian Coffee House. There were several tables in the hall. Each table was surrounded by 4 or 6 chairs. The hall was buzzing with activity. There was noise. And there was chaos. Sweet chaos. We found ourselves a table somewhere in the centre. I placed my bag on a chair and sat on another one. When I looked around, my eyes never stopped at one place. There was so much happening around me that I wanted to capture everything. Towards my right, there were four people sitting on a table, dressed in Cotton Kurtas & Pants. Some of them had a Jhola Bag. Oh, how much I love a Jhola Bag. There was a girl in that group dressed in a Grey Kurta and a Black Jeans. She was smoking a cigarette and looked smoking hot herself. For some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. With every puff of smoke she took, I noticed how bold she looked. And how cool! I wondered how it feels to be this bold, to not care about society & smoke in someone’s face, to not give a damn about how much of your skin is visible. She was probably a bolder version of me. Perhaps, this is why I admired her.
Our order of Chai, Coffee and Chowmein arrived soon after. The food was okay but it tasted superb. It was the vibe of the place. A few tables away, there was another group of people writing something ferociously on pieces of paper. Ah, I wondered if there was a film in the making.
Right here in this place, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Amartya Sen & Ritwik Ghatak gathered to discuss about films, stories, acts, politics and stuff that mattered! Such places are bound to have a great vibe!
I finished my chowmein & gulped down the cup of tea. But I was hungry for more. More cups of tea, more conversations and more eye contact with beautiful strangers.
After we settled the bill, the waiter came, dressed in white over all’s & a white turban. He politely collected the tip & wished us a great day ahead! I looked around one last time. There were so many stories brewing in that place that day. So many emotions, feelings and dreams! And those puffs of smoke!
Indian Coffee House of College Street is a place like no other. It is indeed a part of Kolkata’s strong legacy.