Black desire

Black is my colour. I have always associated black with anonymity – its ability to hide someone in its folds, almost like a shelter. It allows me to blend into the background, to ‘disappear’, shrouded in a cloak of darkness. Metaphorically. 

Black is a box full of childhood memories. A black umbrella with a dislocated spine, a comfortable pair of black school shoes, a favourite long black sweater that came up to my knees, that coveted bottle of black ink that made my handwriting look prettier than the royal blue one – each one of them precious in my world.

Black is also the colour of desire. Of things I have always read in books and seen on the screen. A silly woman’s wish-list. 

Hush, and I will tell you what I want:

Black caviar

“That caviar is a garnish!”

Remember that scene from the movie You’ve Got Mail where Meg Ryan reprimands Tom Hanks for taking the caviar off a dish, after realizing his real identity? I loved that scene. But I was also a tad curious of the grainy black ‘garnish’ that Meg Ryan seemed so indignant about. 

So it turned out that black caviar is one of the world’s most expensive foods. In the Middle Ages, many countries had laws that required the finest caviar to be reserved for the monarchy. Ah, now I see. 

Black caviar refers to the harvested roe (eggs) of a mature sturgeon fish. They are tiny black pearls so exquisite in taste that people are willing to pay a royal ransom just for a spoonful of it. Apparently, it takes a little time on the tongue to get used to. And then, it’s like, wham! Where have you been all my life, dear! 

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I wish I could get myself a teeny-weeny tin of black caviar, tip in a little in my mouth and proclaim, “Delicious! I feel like a queen already!”

But I must not be greedy because over-fishing, smuggling and pollution caused by sewage entry into the seas have considerably reduced the world’s sturgeon population.

Black truffles

The original jewel. Also known as ‘the diamond of the kitchen’. How I wish I had a single piece to adorn my kitchen as well.
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Truffles are subterranean fungi that flourish via a symbiotic relationship with the roots of certain trees. They are not to be confused with mushrooms or with the chocolate confection that bears the same name. Like the caviar, truffles were relished by ancient civilizations as well. Today, they are popular in various European cuisines, especially French and Italian, and also extravagantly priced. Truffles are normally thinly sliced or shaved, sometimes with specially designed implements, and then sprinkled over or mixed into dishes.

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I have one more secret desire - I fervently wish to go truffle hunting! Generally, trained pigs and dogs are used to scour the forest, sniffing out these gastronomic gems. How wonderful it would be to go truffle hunting on a cold and crisp winter day for the PĂ©rigord black truffle, accompanied by an adorable dog in the woodsy treasure hunt! 

If I close my eyes, I can imagine a French chef move about his arms in the air pompously and declare that “Zere is no other food zat tastes like a truffle, mon cherie”.  They say that ‘earthy’ is the most common adjective but ‘seductive’ is what describes a truffle more aptly, or so say the connoisseurs.

Now, only if I had the means to secure that piece of black diamond…

Black orchid

My father is an orchid enthusiast. He has an impressive collection of orchids that he has gathered from around the world and passionately nurtured them in his garden. I am sure his wish-list will have more orchids than any other stuff. And for that reason alone, I would want to gift him a black orchid.

There are several species of black orchids around the world, particularly in the forests of Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and Papua New Guinea. But what struck me as particularly attractive was the one which occupied pride of place as the national flower of Belize. 

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I love that it is exotic, alluring and elusive in equal measure. I can imagine the look of pleasure on my father’s face if I could get this orchid for him. But I just hope that the forests harbouring these beautiful flowers do not get depleted too soon.  

Nilgiri Langur

And now it is time to come back to terra firma and set my sights on something closer home and yet as elusive and endangered as the black caviar and the black orchid. I am talking about the Nilgiri langurs found in the Nilgiri Hills of the Western Ghats in southern India. They are in my part of the world. 

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Nilgiri langur is a beautiful species with glossy black fur on its body and golden brown fur on its head. Its diet consists of fruits, shoots and leaves. This handsome monkey is mainly threatened by the destruction of its habitat and poaching for its fur and flesh. I can’t imagine how anyone would want to commit such heinous crimes against these vulnerable creatures. 

I know time is ticking for them unless we do something to conserve them. Hopefully, I shall be able to catch a glimpse of them in my planned trip to Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary by the end of this year. Till then, Nilgiri langur will remain in my wish-list as one of the ‘must-see’s.

Black Baza

Finally, I have come to the end of my list and who should I include here but the bird that I have been scouring the trees and skies for in recent months. The regal black baza.

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It is a small sized bird of prey found in the forests of South Asia and Southeast Asia. In India, it is seen in the Western Ghats and known to breed in North Eastern India. I am intrigued by its proud crested appearance and sparse sightings. Yet, there are stray occurrences reported from places such as Guindy National Park in Chennai, near Trivandrum and, God be praised, Bangalore! Where was I when it flew over my city? 

I know it all depends upon luck and patience to see this beautiful raptor but I am sure someday I will catch one perched on a tree bough with a prey in its talons, waiting for me. Till then, I will continue to cast envious glances at others’ photographs on facebook and INW. Sigh.

Aaaand that completes my top five black objects of desire, although honestly the wish-list goes on. I don’t know how many of these I would be able to experience in my lifetime.

How about sharing your list?

This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at


  1. Caviar is one of the most desired food in the world, well one of the most expensive too. Black orchid, that's interesting. I want to have a bouquet of black roses but those are little expensive as compared to lilies I love. Good to know your list, mine is an expensive mont blanc pen, designer saree, bmw 520d and black tahitian pearls.

    1. Thanks for stepping by, Saru. I have read your list and it's an amazing one, really. I especially liked the mont blanc pen!

  2. Interesting list, Sangeeta!
    Caviar is a delicacy! Yet to see a Black Orchid :)
    Best wishes!

    1. Thanks Anita, and I loved your black selections, too!


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