Monday, June 11, 2018

The crib

Dear Times Of India,

It's with a heavy heart I write to you today to voice my opinion about the content of your online newspaper. Are you aware The Times of India is NSFW ? In the good old times the newspaper ads were black and white prints on recycled paper. Today they cause global warming. I'm speaking of course, about the various women (who make me very wary) who keep 'turning up the heat' and 'increasing the sizzle quotient' in various cities. The earth is in need of our care TOI, the polar caps are melting, global warming is a pressing concern. Could you please ask these women to stop turning up the heat? Thanks.

Earlier, the headlines and articles were about matters that seemed relevant to what would be termed 'news'. Now all I see are nudes. Full frontal on the front page is an affront, TOI. I'm not one to complain, usually, but yesterday my kid walked in on me pleasuring myself to the Times of India and he went and told his mother about it. I was asked questions.

I think you should rename your newspaper (or at least a significant part of it) to "hot news". So all the articles about actresses cranking up the thermostat in Goa, turning up the temperature in Bali, raising the heat in Cannes (it's endless) would be received by an audience that is more aware about the subtle nuances of such reporting. I mean come on TOI, everyday there's a 'model'  that does these crazy things, (model hospitalized after having too many orgasms? TOI?)  In fact, I'm wondering if it's the same woman everytime. Are you TOI'ing with us? Because how can they all be so foolish? It has to be the same person, that's why you simply refer to her as 'model'. You don't fool me.

I used to write letters to your 'sexperts' TOI, soliciting solutions for  problems I couldn't discuss with my doctor, until I realized they simply wrote entertaining answers for readers to get cheap thrills! I can picture them and your schoolboy readers chuckling over the loss of my libido and my disconcerting nightly emissions, TOI. For my libido, (and the other problem too) you know what you advised me to do? I was advised to point my browser to the Times of India. Your sexperts ... Everything will be fine, they said, the blood will start rushing about your body, and you will breathe heavily, they said. Uhhhhh.

The other day I had the Times of India webpage open at work (naked ladies everywhere), and as soon as a female employee walked into the meeting room, several harassment laws were instantly broken. I didn't even have to do anything, I just looked at the screen while she walked past, and it was done. Closing the tab was like zipping up fly, if you know what I mean TOI. I was frozen stiff. I looked at her, and then at the screen, and then at her. The end.

Workplace harassment kicked into effect, my career was effectively over, I was almost in the news, TOI, I almost landed in your! disreputable cheap sleazy publication. I had to bribe the cops not to release the story to the newspapers. 

It's all over TV though. But who watches TV anyway?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Real taste of darkness

Recently, there'd been a furore over the abrupt closure of a tasteless eatery that had opened up on the east side of town. The place, known as the "Dialogue in the Dark" or the "Taste of Darkness", presumably promised its patrons a revealing and apparently life changing experience of what it meant to be blind.

The idea was, you'd hand over your phone and other bare necessities before entering the restaurant, and proceed to eat your food in complete darkness. People help you to your seat, serve your food, help you find the washrooms, and make sure you don't stumble and fall and ruin your experience. All the cooking, and eating is done in complete darkness.

After your meal comes the twist - you are told, while heading back to your comfortable bright-lit existence, that the staff, the waiters, the servers, the managers, and even the chefs, are blind. And for a while, so were you. This, they claim, is what made the food taste a certain way. This, they claim, is the "Taste of Darkness".

But I had a better idea for a themed restaurant of this sort. Let me tell you about it?

No first let me tell you about me. I'm a fanatically passionate chef who learnt his craft from food reality shows. No traditional family training for me, my mother and grandmother were both terrible cooks, making terrible food. I hated their traditionally rigid cuisine.

My grandmother in particular, I tell you, she couldn't boil an egg to save her life. The poor old woman had lost her sight around the time I was born, (glaucoma, they said) and this blind non-chef once handed me (on a platter, so to speak) the grain of an interesting idea, when she casually mentioned that losing her eyesight permanently magnified her sense of smell and taste.

Right off, I knew the senses couldn't be fooled, so if you really wanted the sense magnification of taste, for example, you couldn't fool the body by being in a dark room so it would think you're blind and adjust the other senses accordingly. This, to me, was the fatal flaw in the approach taken by the "Taste of Darkness", which by the way, I'm sure led to it's current "closed permanently" situation, at least in the city I live.

Anyway, to cut right to the chase, turn right from the place where the "Taste of Darkness" shut shop, and cross the bridge, and you'll see, with the sign proclaiming me as the proprietor, "The Real taste of Darkness". I'm sure you already know what I mean, right?

The text you're reading now wouldn't help you visualize the logo, so imagine something looking just like "The Taste of Darkness", but with an arrow between the words "The" and "Taste", pointing up, with the word "Real" inserted between the two above them both. Something like that.

Now, the experience at "The Real taste of Darkness" starts off where "The Taste of Darkness" never dared tread. You were never actually blind there, were you. It was all make believe, fake, and this is what killed the experience. It's like one of those virtual roller coasters. So much more fun is to be had on roller coasters that are real, and have really injured people in the past. Yes?

So come prepared to have your taste buds tingled like nothing you ever knew. Know however, that we are purists. There is no menu. The patrons are made to feel welcome, (welcome drink and all that) and then informed that in order for them to fully appreciate the taste of our set menu, we'd first need to surgically remove their eyes. The procedure would be quick, painless, and permanent.

Naturally, most casual restaurant goers balk at the idea, and leave, and that is part of the experience. We offer them dessert and a selfie or two with the chef, and then we pack these desserters off with their eyes intact. Taxi back to their house, on the house.

There have been however, notably in the recent past, a few taste freaks who found the idea of eating here intriguing, and did in fact participate in the experience of eating a meal at "The Real taste of Darkness" without hesitation. To them I'd say, sir wasn't that the best dinner you ever ate? Wasn't the appetizer appetizing? Wasn't the sauce perfect? Didn't you feel the quivers in the meat we plated? Wasn't the fruit picked a few minutes before appearing on your plate? On your palate? Wouldn't you gladly trade your eyes again for such a meal?

Trade your eyes again?

Because wait ! You don't think we actually blind people forever, do you? What do you think we are? Monsters?

In fact, once the meal is done, we casually inform the patrons that their eyesight will be restored, its a simple reversal, even faster than the removal. "Will there be anything else, sir", we ask, "before we restore your eyesight?".

Most of the time, the diners concluding their meal at "The Real taste of Darkness" have no complaints regarding this revelation! The fare has been relished, the sacrifice willingly made, the dining experience savored, and then surprise! a quick procedure to restore their sight leaves us with no legal obligations to fulfill. (And the first thing for them to eyeball is the bill - we are not meant for those of modest means, believe me)

But I can't help but mention one particular gentleman who visibly enjoyed his meal, but seemed to change his mind once we reinstated his eyeballs and ended up giving us a mere "average" rating in hindsight (so to speak). Strange, no?

It seems he felt we backed out of our mutual agreement when we reversed the procedure and restored his eyesight, apparently causing him to not "commit to the experience completely", as he put it. 

Believe it or not, he ended up labeling us as having "sold out", having "succumbed to the moderate morals of the general public", having "lent ourselves to a dreadful hypocrisy" and so on and so forth. The gentleman was a true culinary connoisseur!

To him I say, worry not, sir. We take feedback seriously. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority.

We'd like him to give us another opportunity to indulge him, and extend to him an invitation to dine at our new outlet, opening soon, "The Actual taste of Darkness", where we'd raise a toast to him and his like, and where the very menu ensures that the procedure cannot be reversed.





The minimalist menu at "The Actual Taste of Darkness" 

Friday, May 25, 2018

A response to the management

Dear sir,

I am the "particular gentleman" you alluded to in your open letter to the general public dated "Saturday, May 26, 2018", wherein you entertain a few incorrect assumptions regarding my review of your restaurant, the RTOD, or the Real Taste of Darkness. Your letter implies that my "average" rating was due to your refusal to indulge my sadistic desire to inflict misery upon myself. That is simply not true! Allow me to explain.

First though, do accept my congratulations for the mega-grand gala opening of your latest establishment, the "Actual taste of Darkness". The menu does add a humorous touch to the fine cuisine. Thank you also for your kind invite to dine there, I have indeed booked the earliest possible appointment (far too long a wait) - tonight.

I nurse no grievance about the fare at the Real taste of Darkness. Yes, the sauce was perfect, the fruit was freshly picked, the meat did quiver. The fare seemed well presented! (such an ironic touch and lost on the majority!). A certain appreciation for the 'absurdity that is life' is certainly a most desirable attribute for any restaurant looking to establish itself in today's competitive world! And I cannot lie, the dessert reduced even me to tears.

What I took exception to was the missing element of surprise. Certain patrons who dined here earlier whispered away the secret, and by the time I was served, I was already aware that you reversed the procedure after the meal. Are you suggesting I should have just pretended to ignore that and get on with my dark dinner?

Secondly, I am a purist in the same way you consider yourselves purists. I protested against the eye-restoration as soon as I sampled the soup, as soon as I realized how the food tasted minus those pesky eyes, but was informed by your excessively overprotective staff that they knew what was best for me! ( there was no need to create a scene)

It's obvious that your fear of legal implications, or perhaps those meddlesome human rights activists seem to have caused you to forget the most basic rule! Need I remind you the customer is always right? See, I only want food that tastes the way it did at the "Real taste of Darkness". (In fact I've hardly eaten since you restored my eyesight. What's the point?)

Thank you (thank you!) for the new establishment. As regards my grievance at your larger and more established restaurant, the RTOD, I wondered what could be done so we don't end up with other dissatisfied diners. (spoilers are sacred, while gossip is simply evil)

What I recommend is an additional item in the menu that would lick this problem once and for all. Not only would it make for a fine entrĂ©e, but there would be simply no way for anyone to indulge in the kind of irresponsible gossip that rendered my experience at the "Real taste of Darkness" so bittersweet. I guarantee that this addition to your menu would leave your clientele open-mouthed, tongue tied, speechless, and in fact completely gobsmacked! You are no doubt aware that tongue is considered a delicacy in many cultures and cuisines?

Not to mention this would be the last meal they ever taste, guaranteed to leave them with fond memories which they could indulge their nostalgia with forever! 

Do consider my suggestions in the spirit in which they are intended. I too, like you, am a passionate gastronome. It would be a pity if your restaurant followed the TOD to the "graveyard of tried concepts" as far as fine dining is concerned.

I remain,

Humorously yours,
A. B. Lind, Esq.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Letter to W



My dear W,

is it possible, my dear boy, you've been giving yourself away a little too much? Your chosen mortal seems to have perfected the art of recognizing your suggestions, and classifying them and objectively looking at them before dismissing them as a byproduct of an external suggestion. Recognition is failure, W.

All Humans suppose their thoughts their own. Little do they know all thoughts are planted, and all by us. Fools, they consider thoughts to be something internal to their physical systems, even sometimes talking about them as if they exist, as if they are real, and can be measured on an electric field. 

Your man seems to be the kind of mortal fool who thinks he can indulge, but escape the finality and the consequences of indulgence. You know the type, the kinds who think they can peep into hell and run away when it gets too scary. The idea is to charm them into walking in, not raise their guard as soon as a hellish thought enters their mind. Plant thoughts wisely, W. We must feed their suggestions that it is him who is thinking, that is it him who has thought of the ideas he has, that it is him who will ultimately reap the reward of this thinking.

Give him the idea that he's stressed and 'deserves' a smoke, for example. Then let him think that smoking's the 'only' vice he has. That sort of thing, W. That's what gets us his soul. Even if your man smokes compulsively, knowing its going to lead him to our house, it's still a battle won, although we grudge him his reality check. Its far more amusing to have people here confused about where they are and why, instead of walking in knowingly W. Although, we do know that the realists eventually do break down and regret their purposeful jaunts to hellfire, the element of surprise is usually missing. And that gives us our little kicks, doesn't it W? The happy fool who smokes, or drinks thinking its he who had the thought of smoking or drinking, is our best bet and our merriest experiences.

I have a few suggestions on your other approaches to moral corruption my dear sweet fiend. I'll bring it up for discussion when we meet, for your monthly review. Come prepared for some stingers, you incompetent tempter!

Yours blasphemously,




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

loch ness


Loch Ness was a schoolboy fixation that first started when I saw a grainy black and white photograph appear in the daily news claiming to report a strange sort of entity living in the murky depths of the lake. That the photograph as well as the legend was subsequently proven to be a large imaginative leap on the part of the photographer (along with some tricky light effects) did nothing to stop the tourist onslaught that descended on the beautiful countryside where I have lived most of my life. A legend was born and I watched it happen.

Not that I watched it with much fondness. Everything about it was farcical, including the tourist guides which purportedly mentioned it as if it was a proven piece of history. Everyone smiled and photographed themselves standing alongside the loch, as if waiting for the moment of photo-graphical inspiration when the click and flash of the camera would be accompanied by a huge upheaval of water, and the beast in the background would offer an appropriate growl and disappear back under, having satisfied both the voyeur as well as the naturalist.

Museums were dedicated to Ness, restaurants and cafe menus claimed to serve various dishes 'inspired' by it, leading me to wonder, had someone bravely fished it out with a giant hook and proceeded to coldly dispatch it to storage, to serve it with gusto and feed more than just tourist imagination ? Was that why there was no loch ness monster anymore?

Libraries dedicated entire sections to the tale, and by the time the media caught up with the folklore, a legend was born with enough momentum to turn a quiet countryside into a frenzied tourist trap. Bustling came the bus-loads, looking for signs, and you know, when you look for something, you always find it. There was always enough to fuel the mad, and the rest was pure business.

Thereby grew the legend, the legend fueled the research and finally there was no option but to wait until the technology existed to dredge the bottom, and settle the question once and for all. From a purely commercial point of view, it would be scarier had a monster not existed there. Needless to say, there was a faction that did not want to settle the issue at all. If nothing were found, all you would get then would be a piece of lake, slightly larger than some others, and it wasn't even clear water. Murky black, with a taste that clung to your insides and changed something in there. But more about that later. I digress.

I loved Loch Ness. Of the several fascinations I've actively harbored, this one was the most difficult to rationalize. While the cynic in me viewed the myth with much skepticism, the romantic in me felt close to the land, close to the lake. I wondered why people came looking for a monster, when the very black, peat colored waters, the shimmer of the evening light on the eerily quiet body of water would have been more than enough to satisfy my soul. Why look for fairies at the bottom of the garden? 

No, this was beauty and let the masses worry about the monster. Having hiked to the lake and drunk deep from its waters again one brightly lit night, I shall, I decided, spend a while 'soaking in' the feel of the countryside while touring through the highlands. I shall visit Loch Ness again and again. Yes, I shall drink again from the waters of Loch Ness so as to make it a part of me permanently, and then no monster or angel would trick me into desiring more than the magic that was already there. I felt an ache. I cannot explain or rationalize. Like you love the ocean, I love the loch. I began to hover there at night without much fuss or explanations to anybody else. Nobody was a witness. No one saw the change. Nothing I could say would explain the longing I had to make my way to the calm waters, feel the evening air alongside its glowing surface, creep into it and pat its surface, scampering away the insects that suddenly seemed rather delicious to me.

It was the most blissful feeling I had ever had, and not even the subsequent tourists continuously aiming their cameras at me and merrily clicking away could disturb my nonchalant pastime.