22 June 2016

College Street Coffee House


Last Sunday evening I went to the Indian Coffee House. I reached the place around 6 p.m. On Sundays the Coffee House opens in the morning and then closes around noon. Then it again opens around 5 p.m. and closes around 9 p.m. Here is the Menu Card. 

I sat upstairs. The waiter in a white uniform with a turban and a cummerbund came and gave me a glass of water. I ordered Infusion, bread toast and chicken kabiraji. The food arrived after some time. Clicked some pics.


I love going to the College Street Coffee House. Upon entering the first thing one sees is a vintage collection of meter boxes. The Coffee House is Calcutta's best known bohemian paradise. 

I love the staircase. The walls of the staircase are decorated with a variety of political and literary posters. The political posters are mainly of the ultra left. I also love the terracotta theme right at the entrance representing the five elements.  

Clicked some more pics.

While eating my food I was remembering Manna Dey's timeless classic Coffee House-er Shei Adda-ta Aaj Aar Nei. This song is like Coffee House's anthem. The song was written by Gouriprasanna Mazumdar. This song told the story of seven friends - Nikhilesh Sannyal, Moidul, D'Souza, Roma Roy, Amol, Sujata and the seventh one being the narrator himself. 

Not many songs have been written about the Coffee House. The only other song that comes to my mind is Nachiketa Chakraborty's song - Aaj Bochhor Dosh Por from his 1998 album Aamee Paari

Sitting inside the Coffee House I was imagining that Sunil Gangopadhyay was occupying one of the tables and was proof-reading Krittibas Magazine. Sitting with him were Shakti Chattopadhyay, Ananda Bagchi, Dipak Mazumdar and Sarat Kumar Mukhopadhyay. The Hungryalists were creating quite a stir inside the Coffee House. Satyajit Ray was sitting with his pipe dangling from his lips. Binoy Mazumdar sitting alone in one corner and writing something on a piece of paper. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately the picture below is the only photo that Allen Ginsberg snapped at the Coffee House, where he & Peter Orlovsky spent hours talking poetry with the members of Krittibas during the summer of 1962. 

Coffee House is the only place in Calcutta which does not follow the Smoking Ban in public places. Though on the wall there is a signboard which says - Smoking is Prohibited - still no one gives a damn. Here is an old picture of mine happily smoking inside the Coffee House. 


The Coffee House was renovated in 2009. It got a fresh coat of paint, new plastic chairs, new electric lights and fans, and a new portrait of Rabindranath Tagore. Here is an old photo, before the renovation, which I found on the internet.


I somehow don't like the Jadavpur Coffee House, even though it is nearer to my house. A few years back I was dating this girl from Jadavpur University and we used to meet regularly there. But the affair ended soon and I stopped going to that place. Thank God! 

I prefer the College Street Coffee House, even though it is far from my house. The first time I came here was with my father when I was around fifteen years old. During my College years in St. Xavier's, I had quite a few friends in Presidency College, and we all used to hang out at the Coffee House. 

There is another Coffee House on Chittaranjan (Central) Avenue which is run by the Coffee Board. It consisted of two sections - Lords and Commons. The Commons section is still going strong while the Lords section has closed down and has been converted to a Bank. I love this Coffee House too. But I hate the timings. On weekdays it opens around 10:30 a.m. and closes around 6:30 p.m. On Saturdays it closes at 2 p.m. And on Sundays it is closed for the whole day.


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