The Chattering Masses

From The New York Times:

Adda Some facts you had better get used to: you will never get to eavesdrop on Sartre and Genet at the Cafe de Flore, or watch Irving Howe and Philip Rahv getting worked up about Roth and Mailer at the Tip Toe Inn on the Upper West Side. And if you wander into Le Figaro Cafe you won’t find Kerouac and Ginsberg hollering at each other in holy ecstasy — just some N.Y.U. kids talking about relationships.

But the tradition of freestyle intellectual conversation lives on in Calcutta. The city (officially renamed Kolkata in 2001) has an oral culture as lively and cerebral as that of 1950’s New York or Paris. Bengalis love to talk, especially about exalted topics (the notion that some topics are exalted still holds currency there, even among postmodernists).

Talk is cheap: students of the University of Calcutta discuss topics like Dostoyevsky and demographics over samosas at an adda at Puttiram’s Cabin cafe (in the picture).

More here.