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Wabi-Sabi: A Café and Lifestyle Boutique in Kolkata Embraces Holistic Approach

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The hub of joy and ecstasy witnessed the inauguration of a place for the teenage where they could spend some quality time and hangout whenever free. Wabi-Sabi, a café and lifestyle boutique, is built upon the ruminants of old roots of bygone days and long lost handloom and other arts and crafts that made old Kundahar famous. Launched on December 3, Subhajit, interacted with the founder and marketing director of the café, Bidisha Sen. Here’s a profile of the café, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Wabi-Sabi is a unique and offbeat name. The founder, Bidisha Sen, stated that the name is rooted in the Japanese tradition. The purpose is to uplift perfection, amidst all that is imperfect and transitory. “The idea of creating this place has been there for a long time. We wanted to create a space, where people could come and spend some quality time. We started implementing it with little baby steps, about a year ago, when we began jotting down our plans for executing this cafeteria,” she revealed.

Bidisha added, “We started with the idea of a café cum lifestyle boutique. The concept was centred round a holistic approach to all the aspects of life, which is not limited to the quality time we spend together. It includes the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the kind of environment and ambiance that we create for ourselves. It is not just us, but also our connections with the society, and the larger community, as a part of the entire planet. So, whatever we do and eat has to be cohesive to live in this world. That’s why we wanted to do something that would be healthy and good for the environment. In terms of merchandise, we wanted to keep things, which would promote local skills and art in order to give back to the society. We have invited NGOs to showcase the skills and works of ordinary people, so that the visitors get to connect to the roots and admire them.”

“Wabi-Sabi, the very first image that comes to my mind is ‘dreamy’. The ethnic smell warms the air, making the place alive in our senses. The décor is relished by our aesthetic desires.The owners are lovely people too. I would love to visit the place again,” said Aparajita Dutta, a writer and poet, who performed at the poetry session, organised by Rhythm Divine Poets.  The lifestyle coffee place is situated at a place enriched with history. Bidisha commented, “We liked the place, as it is seeped, in history. This place was previously called Kundahar, famous for the handloom sarees. One of our directors is an artist, who is into ceramics and pottery. We have set up this place with a unique decor that is out of the ordinary arrangement.

At the entrance, one would find the boutique enriched with handicrafts from fabrics to ceramics, jewellery and other eye-catching artefacts. This space is also open for promoting literature, art and for organising open-mic sessions. There is the café in its interior, which is decorated with exquisite props and furniture. There is a bookshelf in one corner for readers and bibliophiles.”

Bidisha, a teacher of the Art of Living Foundation, shared her personal thoughts and experiences about Icafé culture and teenagers. She stated, “I really enjoy hanging out with the youngsters. Bengal is famous for its culture of spending time together and having a nice adda. The thing that I like about the present teenage is that they are far more aware and concerned about everything. They are action-oriented, well-informed and eager to participate. They make use of the time for constructive purposes, exchanging good ideas and thoughts apart from mere gossip. Meeting and connecting with people is very important. It is also essential to share useful ideas, which we usually lack. It would be of immense delight if the youth spending their time here would meet like-minded people and create something out of the box, be it in the field of sports, art or technology.” Wabi-Sabi had arranged open-mic sessions for the upcoming bands and poets. The founder,

Wabi-Sabi had arranged open-mic sessions for the upcoming bands and poets. The founder, being admirers of art and culture stated that leaving out these aspects make life incomplete. “People shouldn’t just come, eat and go. They need to carry an experience with them, which is unique. They need to feel the uniqueness and ambience of the place and participate in the events that we put up. Encouraging participation is our primary motive along with the preservation of our age-old roots, the rich traditions and vibrant arts, to give a wholesome experience to the visitors,” Bidisha explained.

Sufia Khatoon, event manager and PR, was in-charge of organising the events at the venue. She shared her experience with the team in bits and parts, while attending the guests, “Planning the events for launching with the café’s founders was an extremely challenging task because the focus was to promote the talent of Kolkata through this artistic place. The idea was to make this space a sort of a creative zone, which everyone can connect with ease, especially artistes and art lovers. Life is really beautiful and a cafe is a place to take a moment and relive the entire experience of the beautiful things in life especially the world of creativity. As a PR and event manager, I have worked on various independent projects to share my knowledge of promoting a brand. In order to make any brand or rather artistic space connect with the people is to really let then feel its raw nature. But, Wabi-Sabi I found is quite different because of its warmth. When so many musicians, poets, artists, corporate and intellectuals came together to celebrate the launch, it was really an amazing feeling to see it all come together. Stay tuned Kolkata, lots more is coming to inspire you.”

“The decoration was top class and the items on display were classy. The food was delicious. It was very different from other places I had been to,” felt Akash Sengupta, an upcoming singer.

The café had arranged delicious multi-cuisine dishes for the guests. “The food being served are all experimental dishes. Our chefs have been making fusions that are healthy. We have made cigar rolls using the spinach of Bengali cuisine. It is not just Japanese cuisine, as the name suggests, we are serving exquisite fused dishes to our guests which, we believe people would enjoy eating,” Bidisha said.

There were many young artists who performed and witnessed the events set up for the launch. Vasundhara Kanjilal, a school student, commented, “I really like the name, the concept of promoting music and culture and everything is quite beautifully set up in the café. It has a really enchanting vibe and ambience.”

Zainab Iqbal, a traveller, theatre artist and writer, echoed Vasundhara. “The cafeteria is beautiful. The most intriguing aspect is the name. It has a deep meaning hidden within, which is out of the box. I would love to hold workshops here in future, if I ever get a chance to work with the founders.”

The launching of Wabi-Sabi was one of the gala events that Kolkata witnessed. There was music, poetry, art, food and refreshment to amuse and entertain the guests. There were people and the evenings of December 3rd and 4th buzzed synchronously with the participants, who welcomed winter and festivals with the opening of a new ecumenical hangout for people of all ages and sections to dwell and share the usual stories of their lives.

Wabi-Sabi preserves the bygone dexterity and magical charm, with the art and culture that helps it stay connected to the roots.

©Subhajit Sanyal

Photo sourced by the author.

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