The Real Taste of Darkness
by Nikhil Kshirsagar
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. (ha!)
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
After your meal comes the so-called 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
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.
That is part of the experience. We offer them dessert and a selfie or
two with the chef, and then off we pack these desserters 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-blue culinary connoisseur, with a wicked sense of
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
© 2018 Nikhil Kshirsagar
Bio: Nikhil Kshirsagar is a software engineer with a major IT
firm. While he works mostly at night, he calls it his day job. In his
spare time he writes short stories and strums a few chords. He also
rapidly tires of writing about himself in the third person.
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