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Adda of Kolkata

The word 'adda' exists in many Indian languages including Bengali. But the essence of the word is essentially Bengali and synonymous with Bengali culture and tradition. It usually takes place among friends, relatives or colleagues. Adda manifests itself everywhere in embryonic form. From the Egyptians or Turks chilling out with a cup of coffee or the Americans guzzling bear in a pub – everybody is found relaxed, relieved and deeply engrossed in a typical 'adda' mood, sometime or the other. Addas are best seen during the festivals.

The most remarkable coffee house of recent times, is the one at College Street. Another one at Chittaranjan Avenue (misleadingly termed as the 'Chowringhee Coffee House') was favourite haunt of the film-maestro Satyajit Ray.

Kolkata's few prominent Addas

Coffee House (College street) : Among the most popular addas in Calcutta, the Coffee House in College Street deserves special mention. Located on Bankim Chatterjee Street, this was previously known as the "Albert Hall". It is now known as the 'Indian Coffee House'. This restaurant remains opened from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday. However, on Sundays, the timings are slightly altered as it remains opened from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. This adda has been an extremely popular haunt for the Calcuttans since aeons. The macrocosm of people who flock here, are not necessarily like-thinking folks. Neither do their topics for discussion tally with each other. The college students hang out for idle gossips to whisk their leisure-time. Many people come here merely for the sake of adda and just being a part of the long talking sessions. Several talented and illustrious persons from different walks of life have been thronging this renowned adda since ages. It has always been the paradise for the poets, artistes, literati and people from the world of art and culture. Several literary magazines owe their origin to the inspiration from the adda sessions at this coffee house. So, the Coffee-House at College Street is of historical significance for being the rendezvous of innumerable versatile people, since its inception till date.

Nandan - Rabindra Sadan : In recent times, many people flock in and around the Rabindrasadan and Nandan. The budding actors and directors are usually found to throng at this place. Among the other adda groups are the ardent lovers of theatre and refined cinema or parallel cinema. Overall, there is a cultural ambience all around. This is a paradise for intellectuals and refined people. In the vast premises of Nandan, some fair or the other is held through out the year videlicet, song festival, poetry festival, fine-arts or little-magazine festivals etc. This festive air draws umpteen people to this place through out the year. Different theatre groups stage their plays on the open-air theatre at this place. However, the addas here are not very old or traditional. As such, they have not grown any specific traits which could distinguish them from others.

Coffee House (Jadavpur) : A new branch of the Coffee House has been opened on Jadavpur Central Road. This restaurant has been founded, keeping in view the students of the Jadavpur University. However, the local youth also flock here for the sake of a sprightly adda. This coffee house, unlike the one at College Street, is neither very old nor enormous in size and does not have any trademark as such.

Academy of Fine Arts : Many artistes and creative persons cluster here in the evenings humming around the exhibition hall and theatre hall. In spite of not being very old, this adda has a distinctive characteristic. The members of the adda are generally obsessed in the discussion and critical appreciation of the plays staged here. Sometimes, a debate arises on the exhibition of paintings. The budding creative artistes get obsessed with their work and are elevated to a state of trance. Indeed, this is an ideal place for honing up one's creative faculties.

Rabindra Sarovar : Several people flock in this region at South Calcutta, for an innocuous adda as well as to enjoy the soothing touch of exquisite nature. The veterans, mostly the retired persons meet here for prolonged adda sessions at dawn and at dusk. Au reste, many young men and women are found here through out the day especially after twilight, to enjoy the natural ecstasies and a few precious moments of solitude, so rare in the busy mechanical urban life of today. The Nazrul Mancha in this region, hosts umpteen cultural programmes and draws the bubbling youth for adda and fun. The Rabindra Sarovar Stadium and the adjacent swimming clubs are the prime venues where several people of all ages flock everyday. As such, some addas have emerged here sporadically.