This post should have been written last year, but I sat on it for the longest time ever because I did not know how to write what I felt. I still don't. But what the heck I thought. It is Black & White Wednesday. And anyway what can you write about something that is as mythical as Coffee House,tucked between old bookshops, above betel-juice stained stairs on a by-lane just east off College Street.
It is not that I had my first love there, beneath those high ceilings and dusty twirling fans.Nor did I bunk classes to discuss fall of the Soviet empire over wispy smokes of Charminar and tall, grimy glasses of cold coffee. Sitting besides those mildewed walls, I did not pen my my first poem for a Little Magazine.
All that I really did was drop in whenever I was in the area, to eat and soak up the atmosphere. The food wasn't even good and the service austere. Yet, I would step in, fanning myself with a dupatta, my sling back loaded with books;to order a plate of chicken pakoda or a kobiraji cutlet and a cup of really bad coffee. The hum of the rich sounds around me, the smell that reverberated through the walls trapped since the 70's, the imperceptible presence of Calcutta's literati in the same uncomfortable wooden chairs as mine, fascinated me. I wanted to belong to the Coffee House crowd but never did.
Last year after I had spent hours browsing through the book stalls spilling with books on the narrow pavements on a particularly humid day in October, I stepped into Coffee House again. The place seemed stuck in time, relying heavily on its past glory. The walls seemed to have taken a careless brush of paint and some of the wooden chairs had given way to plastic. The sign stuck on its walls was another new addition but I doubt if anyone so much as took a glance.
Everything else including the servers with their elaborate head gears and their strict demeanor remained same. I ordered a Chicken Kobiraji for myself, D got an omlette. We sipped our cold coffee, limp and uninspiring.
I took out my DSLR but was too shy to break the rich monotonous hum with a high pitched click and so kept it away. After a few pics with my smaller camera, we stepped out in the sun into the cool interiors of the Indica, leaving the musty yet energetic 70's in our wake.
I don't know if the above picture qualifies, if it does off it goes to Susan's Black & White Wednesday.