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Established in 1876, the Coffee House in College Street has seen the soft and silky footsteps of the passing years, a place that has seen the mighty British Raj crumble, and what rose from the debris of time, was the haze of cigarette smoke, the brew of coffee and evenings fritted away in fierce debates, conversations and chance encounters. Stalwarts like Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray have sipped coffee under the high ceilings of Coffee House. During the 60s, Hungryalist poet Allen Ginsberg and his lover, Peter Orlovsky had made acquaintance with Bengali poets Shakti Chattopadhyay and Sunil Gangopadhyay at the Coffee House. Sunil Gangopadhyay often met the gifted actor, Soumitra Chatterjee in the Coffee House. A student of literature, Soumitra was a regular at the ICH where he used to co-edit a magazine. Even after he became a celebrity following the world-wide fame of the Apu Trilogy, Chatterjee continued to visit the Coffee House. The late feminist poet Kabita Sinha and writer-academic Nabaneeta Dev Sen also frequented the coffee house. It was the epicentre of Calcutta’s intelligentsia.
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