29 June 2016



Recently I paid a short visit to Paramount. Had a daab sherbat there. Chatted with the friendly owners of the place. Clicked some pics. 

The address of this place is 1/1/1D Bankim Chatterjee Street, Kolkata 700073. It was established in the year 1918 by Mr. Nihar Ranjan Mazumdar. This shop was previously situated at 1/A Bankim Chatterjee Street and its name was "Paradise" during those days. In the year 1936 this shop shifted to its present location and was renamed "Paramount".

From Monday to Saturday, Paramount is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. But on Sundays the shop opens at around 4 p.m. and closes at around 9 p.m. The shop does not use any synthetic material in its sherbats and syrups. All the ingredients are derived from real fruit extracts. 

Legend has it that the famous Daab Sherbat came into being at the suggestion of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy. I have been going to this place for the last sixteen years. Though the prices have risen over the years, the taste remains intact. Globalization has not yet touched this shop and it still retains its heritage aura and ambience. On a hot summer afternoon, nothing beats the heat more than a glass of sherbat from Paramount. Its like Amrit for parched throats. Here is the Menu Card. 


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.


16 June 2016

Favourite Cabin


Yesterday evening I went to Favourite Cabin after a long time. Clicked some pics there. Ordered a bread toast, paan cake and tea. The place was mainly full of old-timers. Only one table was occupied by young students. Some of the old regulars were reading the evening newspaper while others were engaged in Adda. 

This Cabin has an old world charm. The tables here have white marble tops. There are both old wooden and plastic chairs available. The address of this Cabin is 69B Surya Sen Street. After crossing Paramount, just take the left turn off College Square, the Cabin will fall on your left side. There are no brightly lit glamourous signboards outside. The door is always open throughout the day. This Cabin was established in 1918. 

This Cabin was founded by Gaur Chandra Barua and his younger brother Nutan Chandra Barua. The Baruas had moved to Calcutta from Bangladesh. Initially the shop was set up at a place called Mirzapur Street, adjacent to College Street area and later on it shifted to its present location.

Sitting inside the Cabin, I was thinking about all those revolutionaries and freedom fighters who used to come here regularly and used to hold some of their secret meetings here too. The founders of this Cabin were supporters of the Swadeshi Movement. Master Da Surya Sen had also visited this Cabin quite a few times. 

The Kallol group used to assemble here almost daily. I was imagining Gokulchandra Nag, Achintya Kumar Sengupta, Premendra Mitra, Buddhadeb Basu and Kazi Nazrul Islam sitting around a table and engaging in heated debates and discussions.

Legend has it that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, when he was a student of Presidency College, was another regular at Favourite Cabin. He used to come and listen to Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poetry and songs, as the poet sat at his chosen spot, Table No. 4.

Soumitra Chatterjee, before he acted in Apur Sansar, was also a regular at this Cabin. Many other noted personalities have visited this Cabin over the years. The place has not changed much over all these years. The old timers love the way it was and it still is. 

Here are some pics which I clicked. 


8 June 2016

Golbari - Kosha Mangsho


Yesterday it rained a bit in the morning. Then it stopped. The weather suddenly became pleasant. The hot and humid Calcutta suddenly became Coolkata. For the last few days I was thinking of going to Golbari to have Kosha Mangsho. I haven't been there for ages. So I decided to go there. I took a Metro Train from Rabindra Sarobar Station and went straight to Shyambazar. Throughout the train ride, I was salivating thinking of Golbari's Kosha Mangsho. There was a pretty girl sitting on the Ladies seat. She was reading Fifty Shades Of Grey. But my mind did not pay her any attention. My mind was focused on Kosha Mangsho. Golbari and Kosha Mangsho are almost synonymous for Bongs. And Bongs have a special place for mutton in their hearts. In many Bong families, Sundays are synonymous with Mutton Curry.  

The train finally reached Shyambazar, after what seemed like an eternity. From the Station I walked straight to Golbari. The place was not that full of people. I immediately ordered Kosha Mangsho and parathas. I also ordered a chicken cutlet. The price nowadays is Rs. 211 for two parathas and four pieces of mutton. The chicken cutlet comes at forty bucks. Here you have to pay first at the Counter and then take a coupon and hand it over to any one of the waiters. I did the same and told the waiter, "Ekta Bhalo Boro Dekhey Noli Diyo". I went inside and sat in a corner on one of those wooden chairs. Clicked some pics of the restaurant and the Menu Board. This restaurant does not have fancy Menu Cards and fancy waiters. Here things are a bit rustic and old fashioned. There is also space crunch inside the restaurant. Here you are required to just come, pay, sit, eat and go.   

After around five minutes the mutton arrived in front of me. I started clicking pics of it. The mutton looked red, spicy and mouth watering. The two parathas were soft. There were a lot of onions too on the plate. And a small amount of Imli Chutney. Looking at the food, my mouth involuntarily slurped. The succulent, juicy, fiery, divine, well-cooked mutton chunks were loosely attached to the bones. One piece was totally boneless while the other three had bones attached to them. One of them was a big piece of Noli. The four pieces of mutton were floating on the thick, dark, red, velvety, oily, spicy, greasy gravy. There was so much oil that it could solve India's energy crisis! 

I could not control myself anymore. I felt like jumping on the mutton pieces. I immediately tore off a piece of paratha and drowned it in the gravy and put it in my mouth. Then I tore a bit of mutton and put it in my mouth. It felt as if heaven was melting inside my mouth. The food was so tasty. The mutton was simply delicious. The Cook was having a good day at the office. Now the chicken cutlet arrived. It was hot. The plate had onions and mustard sauce on it. I clicked its picture with my left hand. I tore off a piece of the Cutlet and drowned it in the mutton gravy and put it in my mouth. I was having the best of both the worlds. La Dolce Vita!

The bone marrow inside the Noli, the cylindrical bone, was yummylicious. It was simply out of this world. I kept on sucking and sucking at it till I could suck no more. I left it bone dry. The boneless piece of mutton was soft like a new born baby's cheek. The two parathas were soft too. A bit of ghee was smeared on them. There was too much onion on the plate and I avoided it. Not because I was going to kiss a girl later on but simply because I don't like eating too much onion. 

I finished the food in no time. Then I silently prayed for the poor goat and the poor chicken. May their Souls rest in peace. I observed a moment of silence for their departed Souls. Then I washed my hands and clicked some more pics. I gave a ten rupee note to the waiter as a tip. On the wall they have put up a laminated article about this restaurant which was written by Nondon Bagchi for The Telegraph. It was dated 16th September 1997. 

I came out of the restaurant and clicked some more pics. 

And obviously there was the mandatory picture of Netaji...