If this were a news magazine, or news anything, none of this would matter. But conversely, in my world, the G8 doesn’t matter. Not directly anyways. You have to be infinitesimally insignificant or immensely important to not be affected. I have my own visions of grandeur which announce me my own self-proclaimed ruler of all things Magan. Outside of that, nothing really exists. Which explains why nobody comments on my blog, or even visits it for that matter.
1.Fantastic Food: I visited private kitchens in Hong Kong, super restaurants in Singapore, and some great little joints in Tuscany, Turin, Bordeaux, Paris, and London. I think food worldwide is going back to basics. Simplicity is the new complex. How to make food with local ingredients, retain flavours and yet make it look sexy and chic, that was the stress at most of these places. Even in India, most restaurants are trying to look inwards to glorify lost cuisines and blurred recipes. The closing of El Buli will only further the idea that the anti-molecular people were trying to propagate: food must be filling and not decorative. Well, personally, I still lament the closing of an institution but I do look forward to making a precision landing at Noma sometime 2011.
2.Great Wines: Wines are always great and it was good to see India take its head out (from a certain part of its own archaic anatomy where it was long stuck) and make some wines that could actually stand their own on foreign soils. I wrote the chapter on Indian wines for a book called The Wine Opus and I promise you guys, dear readers, that I never felt queasy about saying what I have said in that book. I didn’t have to lie about the quality of the wines and I wrote with utter honesty. The fact that no Nashik farmers’ association is staging a protest outside my house and also the observation that I haven’t seen any cheap-mock papier-mâché effigies of my Adonis-like self being burnt anywhere, then, I think further highlights that they didn’t quite mind what I wrote. Outside of India, I drank some great wines from Bordeaux, Tuscany, and Piedmont. Once again, I stress the need for us to relearn the basics. There are no points for forgetting where we come from: snazzy styles of wines to suit the international palate were forgetful; classic wines that respect the local traditions and Terroir are the ones that stood out memorably.
3.Super Shopping: Singapore and Hong Kong are dangerous places, especially if you are the kind who thinks that one can never possess enough shoes, or that a hundred jackets are a hundred jackets too less, or that the only way to desist from shopping is to shop it all out of your system. In short, if you are anything like me, the kind who could, in one single outing, equal the defence budget of a modest land-locked non-neutral nation, then you better stay as far away from Singapore and Hong Kong as you can. I am sure airlines flying to-and-fro make a bundle on just the excess baggage charge. No wonder HK further simplifies check-ins by having city terminals so you don’t have to lug your planetary luggage too far. London is good too, but only in the post-NY sales. But then you better work-out for an entire month before to have the strength and stamina to endure a day or two of the urban jungle, to navigate piles and piles of palpitating paranoid people in order to reach the mountainous masses of marked-off market-goods.
4.Best virtue of 2010: Humility, and no small thanks to the recession. It was terrible! Nothing has had more humbling an experience on us hedonists than the ugly R-thing. We all had to learn to drink only one bottle of Champagne before breakfast, and not squirm if it happened to be a non-vintage. Some of the more unfortunate amongst us were so strained that they had to resort to drinking the poorer vintages of Bordeaux. Those who just couldn’t bear the thought of this kept decanting it into empty bottles of ’82 only if so to try and fool their own wiser selves ever so momentarily. We stored the Caviar from parties by collecting the leftover into little Tupperware. Parties were just not the same with a quintet downsized to a quartet. Oh the pallor of it all! I sure hope that we don’t have another such again. It was almost painful to see the high-flying people using their frequent flyer miles to upgrade themselves, trying to hide their faces as they slipped their coach class tickets across the counter along with their G2000 loyalty cards.
5.Second best virtue: Patience. The one thing that CWG taught us is sportsmanship. We are a lot cooler now when someone overtakes us, stops, bashes our windscreen in, and makes off with our belongings, missus and all. We are mildly perturbed at best. We have tolerance levels that the Ashoka the Great or the Lord Buddha himself would be impressed by. If we managed to stay in the city when it underwent the most extensive repairs since the Pandavas settled here first, if we can breathe more dust in a day than there is in all the mines of Chile, then we can take anything in our stride. Sure we still honk and flip the bird but that is just an innate need to have our patience acknowledged. Time may be relative but the 0.05 seconds between when a red light turns green and the people in the front move is an absolute eternity and it is acceptable in all galaxy systems for people pulled up behind them to wake them from nanosecond nap with horrendous honking to rattle even hell. Outside of that, we are fairly patient.
So what was the worst thing about 2010? I don’t know. I don’t know where to start either. Everything is horrible when it is happening, but nothing is that bad in retrospect. Not to me at least. I guess I am used to being the butt of most of God’s gags. If they are that. Else, I am the wrong punchline in a misplaced joke! This entry started sober but somewhere along my sensibilities were asphyxiated by the sheer lack of inner guiding reason and I went into a spiral of senselessness. I tried reading this from the top again but it made no sense to me. Have I actually grown dumber even as I wrote this? Or has smartness descended upon me to further spotlight my previous lack of intelligence. I don’t know. I will never know. That’s all I know. But aren’t you glad that the year, this piece, and my momentary broken-chain-of-thought is over…?
Caperberry is one restaurant that I have rated somewhere among the highest consistently over multiple visits and meals. They have a certain passion and precision which ensures that standards of food and service are considerably higher than competing culinary parlours and, more importantly, maintained.