Adda (South Asian)
An adda (Bengali: আড্ডা) is a form of intellectual exchange among members, who were originally of the same socio-economic strata, but the process has democratized in modern times. It is most popular among the youths belonging to the so-called "middle-class intelligentsia". Although many Kolkatans boast of the city being the birthplace of adda culture, Satyajit Ray (in his film Agantuk) traces back the origin of the tradition to regular intellectual dialogues prevalent in Ancient Greece at the time of Socrates or Plato. Adda is a prominent leisurely activity in India and Bangladesh.
Adda was incorporated into the OED in 2004.
The Indian adda has shades of meaning attached to different languages:
- In Hindi, adda is a noun, with the nominal form of the word meaning the location or nest of a group or community, usually shady people. The etymology can be traced to the original meaning of the word, which means the "perching spot or perch for birds".
- In Bengali, adda is both a standalone noun and a noun in a noun - verb compound. The nominalization of the word has two senses - one being the Hindi sense, and the other being the place of ritual meeting and/or conversation of a group of people (i.e. a symposium or the 'Central Perk'). The verb form means informal conversation among a group of people, often for hours at an end, and usually accompanied by food. The Bengali institution of the adda has also been the subject of recent scholarly attempts to reconstruct alternative histories of modernity in South Asia.
In 2011, filmmakers Surjo Deb and Ranjan Palit made a documentary on the subject. The film, Adda: Calcutta, Kolkata has been screened at several festivals across the globe and won the Golden Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival 2012. The film drew parallels with the French salon culture at the turn of the 20th century and used the phenomenon of adda to create a city symphony film on Calcutta, exploring various subcultures of the bustling yet laid-back metropolis.