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Speaking Architecturally! The fading heritage of the Indian Coffee house....By Rakesh Parmar
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“....And that girl in the ferozi kurta has the cutest smile...” reads the “The voice of Kolkata” board firmly hanging on the right corner of the ground floor central lobby of the illustrious “The Indian Coffee House”. The Coffee house cozily placed opposite to the Presidency College, College Street, Kolkata on a crossbow splayed junction, showcases a timeless retrospective of a juxtaposition between past and modernity, is a home to intellectual discussions between young and old alike. The philosophy and architecture between the lines and between the times, especially at a time when such heritage buildings are getting a commercial makeover of exhibition spaces or some luxury hotel, The Indian Coffee house battles to retain its identity.
A home to light hearted or even serious exchange of juicy topics of ‘Adda’ over endless cups of coffee has remained a common culture here. It is often said people come here to ‘Offer’ their homage to the ‘Adda’ culture. ‘Adda’, the coffee house to be explicit, has not only played a role in shaping bong-life literature, cinema, theater and art but also molded the thoughts and generations. Multicultural crowd adds to the culture of this “bong” heritage.
Structurally the Indian coffee house looks defamed but still remains a famed public discourse. The union posters on the staircase flight still reminds one of the young Bengal movement that radically shaped the course of Indian youth for thrust of freedom. The ugly overlapping half torn posters of student activities and unions on the same old load bearing wall are reminiscent of the very idea, the skip and change, the humans have forged into their self. The multicultural notions too have hijacked the spaces, though the hustle and bustle here too produces a very sound and silent thought that is more creative than anything. Though the terracotta art on the staircase marks a much required entry space that talks more about what lies between the walls, between the tables and between the waiters, who are somewhere stuck in time with their cone cap turbans, and every sorted introduction that such heritage place deserves. The tall wooden styles and louvers bearing the testimony of colonial catchphrase, smoldered in a casket of time, though sarcastically timeless forces one to relate roots of heritage and architecture the city has been carrying ever since the days Victorian arches were molded into the Indian format.
The psychology of space is more relative in nature. It is a counterpart of a noisy library that disturbs your thought but shapes your opinion. The first line supports the prudent psychology and expressions that the space molds and is a vivid example of a space that exhibits itself to every visitor with equal charm though they might belong to different intellectual credentials. The heritage building and its Albert hall flanked with the abstract paintings on the ground floor not only speak about an artist's impression but also its cultural kin. The volume of the double height space flanked by narrow lobbies and corridors on the first floor may not accommodate a huge rush of crowd entirely but can surely accommodate the virtues and intellectual desires of every individual that pay a visit to this place.
A mother of more intellectual inter prizes, the Indian coffee house continues to shine. From the fierce literary discussions to eureka of art and motion. The redemption of heritage and Indian appeal can never be separated from Indian Coffee House. It offers a pause to your senses, dramatizes everything in front of your sensory organs and intellect. And if you are somehow related to the architectural world like me, then your intellect can visualize the severe collocation of Muti-activity oriented spaces strangling the splayed heritage. Building it is, is not the enough scoop to be tasted, as it is something more than that. “The auto of the intellect environ just transformed the very known the Indian” thus was another message on the same offensively old but precisely bold “The voice of Kolkata” board struggling to seek the much needed attention in the corner of the Indian coffee house.
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