Rabindranath Tagore, one of the foremost sources of our thought process, is the source of our creation and recreation, which we reveal and rejoice every day in newer forms. The Bard continues to make us rich through his poetry, song, novel, short story, essay, drama and painting every day in so many ways.
In November 2018, architect couple Mustapha Khalid Palash and Shahzia Islam Anton took an innovative initiative to create the Robi Prangaan (Tagore Terrace), in Banani, where one may spend his/her leisure relaxing in the melodies of Tagore songs while having a cup of tea or coffee.
Tagore Terrace is a unique eatery themed on the all-time great poet Rabindranath Tagore. As both the founders of this café are devotees of Rabindranath and performers of his songs and poems, they initially thought of creating the space for their own and other like-minded people. But, just within a few years, the place has become a hub for different generations, ranging from teens to octogenarians.
"Within a week of the formal opening of the place, I was astonished to come across an 82-year old lady, who came to visit Tagore Terrace with a walker and with the help of her daughter, just to see how the place conferred with the Rabindra Corner she created at her own residence," said Shahzia Islam Anton.
"We were even surprised when we saw teenagers celebrating their birthdays here. They don't even browse their mobile phones and gadgets and listen to Tagore songs instead," she added. "One day a grade eleven student approached me and asked whether the song that was being played on the audio was a Tagore song or not. She was thoroughly impressed with the song saying that she never listens to such serene songs."
The design of the small space represents the Tagorean taste with a modern touch. Adorned with greenery, the outer open space of Tagore Terrace has the Bard's favourite plants like Bokul, Beli and Kamini.
"We hold the conscience of Rabindranath Tagore in our hearts. To diffuse the Bard's creative legacy, we have created and ambience that best represents Rabindranath and his multifaceted genius," said Shahzia Islam Anton.
Tagore himself had left behind a huge visual treasure ranging from his doodles to his paintings, supplemented by the books by him and on him. The interior of Tagore Terrace is conceived as a blend of audiovisual experiences in a humble yet elegant way.
Attempts have been made to encompass all his creative and intellectual faculties, to create an aura that explicitly captures the role of Tagore as an indispensable figure in Bengali literature and culture. In particular, his songs, philosophies and verses have been translated into visual experiences that eventually help visitors be completely immersed in a celestial feeling and rid oneself of the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Tagore himself was a frequent traveller and would often come back with recipes he liked. Tagore family's cooking remained an assimilation of different flavours from India and abroad. He was such a foodie that he would often bring back recipes with him so that these could be tried out at the Jorasanko kitchen.
For instance, he loved kebabs, some extremely offbeat, and they started making a regular appearance at the family's dining table. The poet's innate wanderlust took him to places like Italy, Spain, England, Turkey, and he tasted the food traditions of those respective countries. Since he was exposed to both oriental and occidental cuisine, a penchant for blending the two came naturally to him. Tagore Terrace too offers such different delicacies at the outlet.
The property, where Tagore Terrace is located, is not a very big one. The whole building occupies a footprint of less than 200 square metres, and at its roof at level 11, Tagore Terrace occupies an open terrace, a closed dining area and a kitchen, altogether measuring less than 160 square metres.
The rooftop houses quite a number of service facilities for the whole building like a water reservoir, lift machine room, etc. Designing a café in such a constrained space was the greatest challenge. 'Aircraft Spatial Principles' were thoroughly studied and taken into consideration for designing the place.
Visitors will encounter an aura of Tagore everywhere in the place through his books, songs, poems and paintings on Tagore created by Mustapha Khalid Palash.
"To create an untainted ambience, who else could be the source of inspiration except for Rabindranath Tagore; the treasure without which we cannot bring colours to our lives," said Mustapha Khalid Palash. "Being the greatest exponent of Bengali literature and cultural milieu, Tagore's creations are consistently playing a vital role in the daily lives of more than 260 million people, both locally and globally."