Kolkata has long enjoyed a reputation for its cheerful street culture, languid
afternoons, and creative spirit. The city has embraced both intellectual curiosity
and geniality as a way of life ever since its days as the early capital of British
India, and nothing demonstrates this better than the very Bengali pastime of addas.
Addas are best described as
communal discussions that are informal, unrestrained by time, and usually conducted
over several cups of tea/coffee. An adda can be either impromptu or pre-planned,
meandering, or moderated, cerebral, or trivial, and therefore demonstrates the
power to bring together different themes and groups of people. Topics of discussion
at an adda could range from anything between familial rants to Iranian foreign
policy. As Kolkata’s history and
famous Bangla songs might indicate, these ritualised hang-outs have
contributed greatly to the city’s cultural life. Whether they happen
at a roadside tea stall or a coffee shop, they tend to remain at the heart of residents’
memories and experiences.
Today, as a result of rapidly evolving lifestyles and restrictions on physical
meetings, addas have evolved too. Some rendezvouses now occur on Zoom, while many
others simply have to wait. But as an undeniable part of Bengali cultural heritage,
there’s no doubt that the spirit of adda is very much around, biding time
for its next cup of tea.
If you thought the qahwa was a Kashmiri tea drink, prepare to have your
The qahwa (also known as gahwa) is also an Arabic coffee drink
prepared by brewing ground beans with cardamom pods (also other spices sometimes).
It is bitter in taste, as opposed to the sweet tea variant, and is therefore always
served with dates.
Coffee first emerged in the Arab world around the 15th century. The story goes
that a few hundred years earlier, a
goatherd in Ethiopia noticed that his goats would get especially frisky after
chewing on a specific kind of red berry. The monks in Yemen were also able to stay
awake through the night prayers after sipping a brew of the same fruit. Soon, this
miraculous discovery found its way to the ports of the country, and the rest, as
they say, is history (guess the OG G.O.A.T. were goats indeed!).
Today, coffee is a big part of the culture in the UAE. If you visit Dubai (which
is scheduled to allow entry of flights from India in
two weeks), you’ll likely be greeted with this drink, poured from a
traditional brass coffee pot into ornate ceramic cups with no handles. The servings
are small but constantly topped up until you indicate otherwise, by shaking your
Dubai also has a
museum to celebrate UAE’s rich history of coffee – something to
do (other than shopping) the next time you’re there!
From Chevy Bel-Airs to Ford Fairlanes, you see an almost candy-like assortment
of cars on the streets of Cuba.
Wondering why these old, colourful cars line its streets? Up until the early 1950s,
Cuba was one of the largest buyers of American cars. But soon after it fell into
a communist regime, a trade embargo was imposed, and Cuba stopped importing new
cars. So, over the years, old cars have been revamped and Cuba is now said to live
in an "automotive time warp"!
A Japan sojourn is, in all likelihood, incomplete without a trip to one or more
of its legendary onsens, or hot water springs, situated
in the midst of absolutely stunning scenery.
The nation is
home to more than 27,000 such springs, many of which are revered for their
mystical, beneficial properties. And for centuries, it has been believed that bathing
in the water of these onsens cures the body as well as the soul. As
most of them are of volcanic origin, the water is rich in minerals that have many
curative effects: Not only are they effective in
treating aches and pains of all kinds, they have also been widely regarded
as an important part of the skincare and beauty regime of the Japanese, especially
“Hustle” and “get creative”. These are the two most common
phrases used in the professional space these days. While there’s much to
be said about the first, researchers from McGill University, Harvard University,
and the University of Melbourne have come up with something very interesting for
This international cohort of researchers has devised a
four-minute test that could reveal the creative potential that lies within
How do you do it? Just think of 10 “wildly unrelated” words –
in definition, category, or concept – and input them on their website (linked
above). The algorithms will compute the degree of divergent thinking you are able
to showcase and give you a score. It will also tell you what the score means, and
where you rank in terms of other participants.
But keep in mind, this test only checks a particular
type of creativity– divergent thinking (the other kind being convergent
thinking, which allows us to come up with the best solution taking a variety of
things into consideration).
“According to Jay Olson, the creator of the Divergent Association Task,
that’s just a ‘sliver’—but it’s the first step toward
understanding creativity more broadly, and subsequently, how it might be cultivated
in the minds of the next generation,” an article in
Fast Company noted.
We tried it. It’s super quick, fun, anonymous and will definitely leave
you wanting more!