Thursday, March 30

South Kolkata eatery walk stirs up nostalgia over ‘cabin culture’

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A motley group of around 50, including homemakers, retired persons, lawyers, teachers and doctors, gathered opposite Greek Church on SP Mukherjee Road on Sunday evening to revisit iconic cabin restaurants and rediscover Kolkata’s fading “cabin culture”. Organized by the Facebook group Purono Kolkatar Group (PKG), the walk covered restaurants in south Kolkata that have surviced in the age of plush eateries and cafes.

The first stop on the journey was Apanjan, famous for its fish fry. The group then went on to Café, Café-De-luxe, Bonophool, Sanguvalley — and some that have shut shop, like Calcutta Coffee House (above Basusree cinema hall) and Uttam Kumar’s favourite Basanta Cabin (above Purna cinema hall).

Swarnali Chattopadhyay of PKG said, “These cabins were once popular with folks who would come to watch plays or films in places like Bhowanipore, Kalighat and Hatibagan. But with AC malls and restaurants, the cabins of Kolkata have been dwindling.”

These restaurants initially offered the urban middle-class customers private spaces to dine in outside home. With intellectual progress and economic liberalization, these cabins changed into open-scheme eateries, retaining the name. An intrinsic part of the city’s popular culture, these emerged as hotspots for adda, cultural and political discourses, accompanied by great food.

Light on the pocket, the popularity of food in these eating joints was driven by taste alone. Amal Shau, one of the oldest employees at Café said that people from all walks of life and age — from college students to octogenarians — pay regular visits because of the taste and quality of food. The owner of Café-De-luxe, Samir Kumar Aich, said, “Our customers are mainly old-timers driven by nostalgia.” The group grabbed the chance to taste moghlai paratha from Café De-luxe. At Ujjwala, they sampled the famous chanachur. “It was an exciting walk as I discovered a new culture,” said Amartya Talukdar.


Source: Times of India

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