Sharbat never used to be a force alone which could draw us to a particular place. And during college days, with stress of studies and excitement of everything around, it was unlikely that some old shop, tucked away amongst many, on the other side of college square would draw us away from more interesting things.
But yes, once there, the sharbat was a refreshing drink. But so was a soft drink, from the shop adjacent to college.
And once, you are out of that place and deep into life’s race, some years later, your inner self yearns to be back there – to soak into the charm of those places that has not been part of the path one has been rushing on, in last few years. While your companions of those years are long lost, you realize, somewhere unknowingly, certain places have silently yet deeply got entrenched in your soul. They were there in your sub-conscious; it only took a while for you to realize.
And that’s when, from extreme southern part of the city, overlooking hundreds of roadside stalls selling soft drinks, or state-of-the-art cafes selling complex refreshing drinks, you take the trouble to reach this place in Bankim Chatterjee Street, not to refresh yourself with a drink after travelling that far, but to refresh your soul, which is tired in all these years. And that’s when you realize that this city has an amazing chemistry of ensuring the co-existence of the old to refresh your soul and the new to refresh your body.
Their Sharbat evoked feeling for the motherland – and hence probably it was here that many of our freedom fighters used to gather to plan their secret moves. Be it Netaji Subhas or Bagha Jatin or so many other freedom fighters, they all frequented this place.
Their Sharbat evoked poetry and no wonder Kazi Nazrul and many other famous literary personalities would ponder over their next creation, over a glass of sharbat here.
Their Sharbat tickles the inner intellect in people. And be it Prof Satyen Bose or Acharya Prafulla Ch Roy, a glass of their Sharbat probably was the interlude between their long hours at study and labs.
Their Sharbat was music for many and musical Pundits like Sachin Dev Burman or Gauriprasanna Mazumder would probably have stitched a few notes over a glass of Sharbat here.
100 years is a journey to cherish – more so if the passengers in such a vehicle are the likes of the ones mentioned above and also the commoners who not only quenched their thirst here, but also carried a lasting memory of this place.
It is the same family across multiple generations, who run this place. It started as Paradise in 1918, but then had to close down for a while when the ruling British officials smelled that this is a place where plans of liberation movements were being drawn. They reopened a few years later as Paramount and it is the same setup that runs today.
What Sharbat to drink here? I will leave that to one’s own choice of flavour. The flavour of the place anyway will far outweigh the flavour that you look for a in a drink. If not averse to coconut, do attempt their Daab Sharbat. It is said that the same was introduced at the insistence of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy. With large part of their clientele being students, Acharya felt, coconut based drink will not only be refreshing, but will also act as a stimulant for the brain.