Indian Coffee House. Or just Coffee House. A venerable institution wherever it is in India. More so in Kolkata. It is an iconic place.
What can we write about this place which is not already written about! You don’t go there for Coffee but conversation. You don’t go there to sip coffee but to meet up with friends. Coffee is an excuse here. We had similar place in Bangalore few years back. Tt was a pleasure to eat bread toast with a cup of filter coffee. That was much before boring Coffee days mushroomed in the city. Fortunately, some places still retain the old world charm of a typical coffee-house. None can beat the one in Calcutta.
Amitava Sarkar, the venerable Concierge in Oberoi told us many stories of Indian Coffee House. How Amarya Sen whenever he comes to Kolkata makes it a point to take his gang of pals to the place. How you can always bump into some well known author or a poet or artist or a budding revolutionary in this place!
The location is apt. College street. The hub of books and students. Just opposite, on the other side of the road is another iconic institution of the country, The Presidency college. Very close by is another celebrated institution – Kolkata University. We were trifle disappointed to see the coffee house located on first floor as we always thought it to be on ground floor. An old building, the few flight of stairs take you to place. As we climb steps, we get a hint on what is in store. Graffitis and bills of various activities are pasted on the side wall. Then there is a mural too.
We enter the place. A huge hall with tables neatly arranged in rows. We notice the high ceiling which keeps the place cool to some extent. Rickety fans hung by long columns rotate gently. Under the fan we find groups of people – young, middle aged, old – sitting around the table engaged in heated conversation with coffee in one hand and Cigarrate in the other.Indians being garrulous, this place is made for us! Of course there are couples in cupid too!
We order coffee and pakoras. Poorna walks up to the first floor to explore. He clicks from the first floor for a panoramic view.
The waiters in these Coffee houses wear a traditional uniform with a headgear. We ask them to pose for us.
We walk around the place and notice lovely paintings hung on the wall. This painting says it all.
Then of course, the Grafitti board. Voice of Kolkata! Anyone can scribble….
While coming out we noticed this board at the entrance on first floor. How true! Go in and smoke and sip. Not here!
We bid good bye. The ambience and the history is what makes this place important. You may be lucky to bump into your favourite icon on any day when you are here.
Sit, talk and feel it. No one will ask you to get out from here!
When you are in Kolkata next, don’t miss going to Indian Coffee house aka Kolkata Coffee house! Also known as College Street Coffee house.
Postscript – Being coffee lovers and being Coffee workers initiative, we expected to get some good coffee like we still get in Bangalore Coffee house located in Coffee Board headquarters. Bit disappointed. But the experience is memorable.
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