The Indian Not Near the Cupboard

Gloucester suffers from a secret shameful addiction. No, not heroin. Apparently everyone is on heroin all the time as far as we can tell by reading the Gloucester Daily Times (Paywall for the technologically inept) and by the number of little orange caps all over the train station platform when we get there in the morning. “Do they shoot up before leaving or when coming home?” we often find ourselves wondering.

Welcome to Noddington

Welcome to Noddington

No, we’re talking about yet another powerful combination of soul-consuming chemicals that blasted out of South Asia during the height of the British Empire and straight into the collective bloodstream of the entire Western world. Once there they induce incredible highs and occasional intense physical pain, followed by the disconsolate rock-bottom lows that come with the desperate cravings for more. Alongside the self-abuse of the user is a long list of social problems that soon coalesces around obtaining, ‘cooking’ and then concealing behaviors, as the addict cascades through a peak and valley pattern of euphoria and lies.

We’re of course (as usual) talking about Indian food.

“Guv’NOR…it ain’t us yer goin’ on abaht, is it?” Yes, we are talking about you, you comically waistcoated and knee britched-up Edwardian stereotypes. British ex-pats are the worst hit by this scourge as they have been riding the Bengali Banshee longest of Europeans. It becomes most acute after a long night downing pints in a place named something like ‘The Stoat and Flagon’ while watching mousse-haired metrosexuals kick soccer balls around on the ‘telly’. After this they get down to the real addiction of their countrymen, piling by the hundreds into curry houses so sketchy the sauces could be used as debarnacling agent for Her Majesty’s fleet. These binges leave them moaning and hellfarting for days afterward, but it’s a short cycle to the next one especially it it’s against Germany. As a centuries old empire you’d think they’d learn a thing or two over time, but like driving on the wrong side of the road and putting carpets everywhere the English are slow to change any familiar habit no matter how self-destructive.

We played bass a couple of times for a band with this exact same name

We played bass a couple of times for a band with this exact same name

Back here at home we see the helplessness of it every day in the many ex-pats of our neighborhood. Worse are the otherwise innocent souls they’ve snared into a life of chutney dependence in one of their ‘naan houses’ which populate our otherwise placid Prius-laden streets of East Gloucester. You think we don’t notice you sneaking off, cranking Morrisey as you zip toward the shabbier parts of Beverly in the middle of the night with that empty look in your saffron-yellow eyes? How about that “chance” meeting in Central Square near where we work, 40 miles from home and lurking outside the Shalimar lunch buffet because you “had an appointment in town”? Come now, we’re all adults here.

Pull yourself together for a moment, brush off the mustard seeds and take this self- assessment to see where you rate on the Cape Ann Indian food addiction scale from “mild” to “Bhut Jolokia”.

Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

  • Do you hide Indian food from the rest of your family by placing the take-out bag far to the rear of the fridge and moving an orange juice container in front of it?
  • Do you microwave the pre-packaged curry meals from Trader Joe’s while pretending to be the first Indian astronaut on Mars? [“Mumbai, this is Shiva Base. All systems are go!”]
  • Do you make a big show of eating a healthy garden salad for dinner, hustle everyone upstairs after a rushed cleanup and then crank down half a dozen samosas watching Downton Abbey?
  • Do you go to bed thinking thinking, “I’ll have that biryani for breakfast with an egg on it”?
  • Have you ever sent your spouse or significant other to go get Indian in the snow risking his/her life and your only fear was that they might have to drive slowly because of the conditions?
  • Would finding out your friend was sleeping with your spouse enrage you less than discovering they went to Anmol without calling you to see if you wanted anything?
  • Have you never even been to the Indian place in Salem because you just can’t make it that far?
  • Have you thought about opening a curry place in Gloucester even though your restaurant experience consists only of what you could pick up watching Top Chef?

Answer key: Are you now reading the rest of this on your phone, pacing around waiting for your order of  Aloo Ghobi because you couldn’t get to the end of the list? You are? Admit it- you’re sick. You need help.

Move this fucking boat out of the way and put in some steam trays!

Move this fucking boat out of the way and put in some steam trays!

The Tan Dory Center

The Tan Dory Center of Hopefulness is a proposed solution for Gloucester. Occupying any one of the many, many disused storefronts on Main Street it would be a place where addicts could walk in off the street and be given a suitable maintenance dose in order to eliminate the cravings that lead to destructive and risky behaviors. Also inside they would find the camaraderie of others working to similarly manage their own conditions and hopefully not long after that a beer and wine license and maybe occasionally some light entertainment on weekends during the summer.


Ready to lend a hand

Ready to lend a hand

We know this is a bold proposal but as the humanitarians we are here at The Clam we can no longer stand to see our fellow human beings suffer this way and are frankly sick of  the ravages that this affliction has wrought on our many friends, family and the city we love.

Also we hope to Christ they take Tufts.

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  1. I know I am not alone in my suffering. I long for another onion bhaji to cross my path so that I can devour it. Gloucester needs…nay, DESERVES an Indian restaurant.

  2. Bring it on. If there were Indian food on Cape Ann, I might never cross the bridge again.

  3. Every time we host an Indian “Dinner & A Movie Event,” we sell out (food trucked in from Anmol India in Beverly). It is hilarious to watch otherwise docile people froth when we peel the cover off a curry dish. I wouldn’t do something as stupid as open a restaurant myself (the heartbreak of placing one’s life savings on a table and lighting it on fire would be quicker than watching a restaurant fail), but I would fully support someone else’s decision to do so. In Gloucester. Across the street from the Cinema.

    • Martin Del Vecchio


      My brain’s pattern-recognition made a leap when the Ohana signage first went up; that lettering means Indian food!

      As a result of the immediate and intense disappointment, I have never eaten at Ohana.

  4. Never mind nomnomnom. naannaannaan!!

  5. Fucking brilliantly funny. And so spot-on about Indian food being Brit drunk food (like Mexican food, or disco fries, in the US). In Glasgow, the UK’s second city by South Asian population, the Indian take-away places are alarmingly friendly, dangerous, busy places after the bars close. Lots of shambling good humor, and ill, in rapid shifts and flashes, under supermarket-bright glare. Kind of miss it. Will have to venture up north to re-acquaint myself, apparently!

  6. Is Indian food spicy?

  7. worthyofcensure

    In my dream I’m in Gloucester savoring a lovely scorching chicken vindaloo while The Trammps set the mood…

  8. Mary Beth Pereira

    There’d be an epic Italian v. Indian bread war. Bring it.


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