1961: Coffee Dreams/Park Street Scenes
Updated: Mar 13
It’s 1961… A newly married, 25 year old Sushma Seth steps out of an Ambassador car at the head of Park Street in Calcutta. Trincas is her destination.
Food smells waft out from somewhere behind the restaurant and bakery, a comforting mix of freshly baked bread and fried onions. A tall doorman in a fanciful headdress, bowing slightly, opens the glossy wooden front door. The smells change to cigarettes and perfume, gently overlaid with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
It’s 11:30 in the morning. The sunlit restaurant has that modern marvel –airconditioning! The room is cool and her heels sink ever so slightly into the thick red carpet. Ladies dressed in sarees and pearls, pant-suits and diamonds, perfectly coiffed, occupy spaces in groups of fours and fives.
The young Mrs Seth spots her companions at the far end of the restaurant in a cozy booth. A 3-piece band is playing a jazzy number. People are chatting and tidbits of news float in the air like confetti as she makes her way across the festive room. On some days you don’t need to be a star to feel like a star.
Trincas is her daily haunt, her comfort and her indulgence - an espresso and a lemon tart. Sometimes, she switches up her usual confection for a freshly baked chocolate pastry, but the espresso is always a staple.
Today is busier than usual on account of the popular Ladies’ Coffee Meet. Almost all the tables are crowded; silver teapots, porcelain cups and plates of sandwiches; teaspoons clink on saucers. An emcee takes the stage as the saxophonist winds down one last brassy note. A short quiz is up next, and prizes are to be won. Then there's ample time to catch up on goings-on and trade ‘survival tips’ for Calcutta!
Sushma is happy in this vibrant city; to be surrounded by chatter, and enjoy mornings like this. She misses Delhi, but here, at her favourite table, she’ll let the past be and discuss plans of the future instead; she’ll chew on ideas, digest thoughts and make up her mind about a good many things to come.
50 years on, Sushma Seth will have featured in more than 80 film productions, traveled the world, mingled with superstars, become a household name and raised an amazing family. She’ll have more stories than can be written down and then some to spare…
In 2021, she’ll look back fondly at her years in Calcutta and remember Trincas vividly: the colour of the front door; the smells in the air; Chris Perry and his orchestra; the enchanting Molly; magical evenings of dinner and dancing; her friends - Shamlu Dudeja, Kitty Kumar, Rajni Hoon and Pomi Johar; mornings spent over coffee and conversation; and the way Calcutta felt when one called it home… It's the bits of time we stop to savour that stay with us the longest. Remember to pause, look around and appreciate...
Moments are made every day at Trincas. It's one of those special places... you never know who's favourite seat you might be sitting in or who's favourite daydream this might have been.
The restaurant once again serves excellent craft coffee. Stop in for a cup, a daydream, a conversation and of course plenty of memories to be remembered and to be made… click here for Craft Coffee at Trincas
This story is part of the Trincas Timeline Project - an exciting community-based memory project aimed at collecting stories, photos, and anecdotes going back almost a hundred years.
It aims to cover not just Trincas’ storied history, but also provide glimpses of ‘the Park Street Scene’ and Calcutta/Kolkata as it has evolved over the last century.
The project focuses on history, culture, music and food by connecting with patrons, musicians, celebrities and historians.
Anecdotes, photos and interviews are converted into short blog posts documenting the personal connections that so many Calcuttans past and present have with this iconic institution.
The goal is to collect a living history of sorts under one virtual roof and create a cultural treasure-house for present and future generations.