As the clock struck four in the twilight hours every morning, as the slumbering postcolonial Indian city of Kolkata slowly woke up to face another day, Shibnath Sammadar or SS would get busy opening his 150-year-old tea-shanty.
Located diagonally opposite the main gate of Scottish Church College, on the north-eastern wall corner of the Hedua Talab lake, at the intersection of Urquhart Square (today’s Shashi Bhusan Sarkar lane) and Beadon Street (renamed now as Abhedananda Road), the tea stall was opened by SS’s grandpappy in the year 1870.
Business success was, however, never the Sammadar family’s cup of tea. Even after three generations of running the stall, they were unable to make a concrete structure, and the shop always remained an illegal roadside tin and bamboo tea-shanty.
Though in plain sight, the shop was a rickety and ramshackle suit-stained street-stall like a million more in the city, however, in reality…
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