‘Paan’ this term is very familiar to every Indian. The salient fact is one will hardly find a market without a ‘Paan’ (Betel leaf) shop. Even the famous Hindi song ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ depicts how we Indians are inclined towards the betel leaf and the flavored ingredients. This article neither deals with how essential paan is for any marriage ceremony nor the one who sells ‘fire-paan’!!!
We are talking about an electrical engineer who runs a decades-old paan shop in Kolkata. You can ask- why did someone give up such a career and take up this uncertain profession? Let’s ask Shyamal Dutta – the man behind who runs the iconic shop ‘Kolpotoru Bhandar’ in North Calcutta. Now what’s brilliant about this shop is, the price range stretch from ₹10 up to ₹ 1001.
‘Kalpataru Bhandar’ has not left a single soul unheard about. It is located exactly behind College Square, and it stands tall 87-year-old paan shop has been graced by celebrities and commoners alike. Curiosity, we asked why this paan shop is famous? Well, Dutta babu smiled and said this shop is carrying the signature of famous and stalwarts from both Tollywood, Bollywood personalities, and even Politicians. The famous shop witnessed Indira Gandhi, Radhakrishnan, Bhanu Bandopadhyay, Mohammad Rafi, and many more. Even the ingredients of Kolpotoru Paan arrives from different part of the state.
According to Dutta, “Ei dokan-er kono carbon copy hobe nai didi. Ja dekchen sob kintu exclusive and authentic.” (You won’t find a carbon copy. All these items are exclusive and unique.) The secret ingredients come from Chennai, Kanpur, and Benaras. Even the supari is obtained from Allahabad while the leaf is from Bhubaneswar. Not to mention this paan shop has at least 40 different types of masala.
If Dutta babu isn’t busy reading the newspaper then he will be busy making the famous ‘mitha paan’ for his customers. The best part is, he asked us and said “Didi khaben naki mitha paan? Banea debo?” and offered to us one.