lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dear Makers of Amul Cheese Tins,

You know, I have a can opener. In fact, I have several. More than one, certainly. The one I think of as the can opener has been in the family for some forty years and is doing sterling service still.

Can openers are such a wonderful invention, I must bow to the person who conceived the idea. They don't seem to care about my left-handedness and work equally well if I am turning the lever clockwise or anti-clockwise; they just need to get a bite into the edge, and then it is voila time.

Now, you used to have a nice tin, which it was easy to open thanks to the aforementioned device. And then, perhaps you got the 'improved better new version' bug, you went and started making tins with ring tabs. Hullo, cheese tins aren't beer cans, you know? The weight of the metal sheet and the thickness all differ, don't you know?

I was brought up to be obedient and follow rules and instructions. This morning as I pottered around making breakfast, I took out the new cheese tin and I noticed that you have added a ring tab, as though a cheese tin was a beer can. The helpful instructions printed on it said to pull the tab up towards the rim and then to peel it back.

I obediently inserted my index finger in to the ring and pulled the tab up, no problem, but to pull it back? Did you have Samson and Hercules and other strongmen in mind when you decided to go for this? Do you think the superhuman strength mothers display to pull their children out from under cars or whatever carries over to opening a tin of cheese?

I acquired a gash, thin and not immediately bleeding as such, on the first phalanx of my index finger before it occured to me that I could use my can opener as usual. But my assumption of Herculean might had lifted the top of the cover in a few uneven chunks. So after I wielded my trusty can opener, the top still wouldn't come off, it was being held down by slivers and twists of metal.

Usually, my can opener runs its lovely course round the edge of the tin and I insert the tip of a knife and lever the top open. Today I had to get my pliers which also cut metal to do the job. But before I got to that point, I already had three what in cruciverbal speak would be: Delicate fabric shares wounds (11) lacerations, bleeding freely on my thumb, two on other fingers.

I know it is only one finger out of ten, but if it weren't for our opposable thumbs we humans wouldn't be what we are. I know too, I am left-handed, so a cut up right thumb doesn't sound like a disaster. But have you considered that no matter handedness, most tasks need two- handed operation?

If it was one cut I could have stuck a Band-Aid on it. Gritting one's teeth and carrying on is what people do after all. But, dear Makers of Amul Cheese Tins, multiple lacerations meant that I could not dress the cut. Cuts. Whatever. How many spot Band-Aids can a thumb take, after all?

I abandoned grating cheese, anyhow. And then I abandoned the notion of cooking with any vegetable that needs peeling since you know, peeling requires using a thumb to guide the blade and all that, and my thumb wasn't up to it.

Even cooking innocuous Dal Palak or stir-fried okra was fraught. Did you ever consider the phrase adding salt to wounds? It hurts. And consider adding a twist of lemon to a dish. Do you know what the juice of a lemon does to a cut?

But, dear Makers of Amul Cheese Tins, what hurt most was this: as I bled and tried to stop the bleeding and open your tin at the same time, I dripped blood on surfaces; of the pliers, the can opener, my chopping board, the tin and into the tin. There is no way, no amount of scraping off the top that will suffice, that I can bring myself to eat cheese from that tin.

Please, could you see your way to making tins the way you used to? I am a vegetarian, you see?



Anonymous dipali said...

The first time I met the new design of cheese tin, I managed to yank off the ring tab without doing any form of damage to self or tin- it remained stubbornly unopened. So I promptly turned it upside down, used my wonderful can opener, and sniggered at their foolish attempt at sundering the eternal relationship between cheese tin and can opener.....
Hope your thumb heals fast-even the tiniest cut is a big pain when cooking.

8:30 am  
Anonymous Ash said...

What a rant! You are getting irritated at everyhting these days, it seems. Try Dipali's trick, Lali.

3:02 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

Ash, and how censorious you get! We like a spirited Lali. She can even be irked in style, don't you think?

4:45 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Dipali- You are a genius, lady. It never struck me that I could open it from the other end. But then, there will be the irritation of seeing the label upside-down every time I use the tin, bah.

Ash- So I am not allowed to rant? I'll definitely do it Dipali's way next time, though.

Rimi- Really? I can get irked in style? I thought I was whining, though. Thanks for springing to my defence, though.

5:30 pm  
Anonymous dipali said...

Forget tins and their labels- be ultra with it and buy the nice new cheese blocks- 200gm and 400gm are available- most user-friendly and vegetarian, unless you have a fight with your cheese-grater!

6:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

buy the cheese which comes in a plastic box. you do not need tin openers. buy a latest opener which cuts perfectly. but do not throw the forty year old one- kavita

6:41 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Dipali- Hey, that is welcome news. And no, my thumb is inured to the scrapes that a cheese-grater might inflict, so we seem to have achieved truce.

Kavi- No way I am going to ditch the can opener, it works fine. Plastic boxes they come in these days, do they? How backward and clueless I am. I cringe.

11:06 pm  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

@ Missus Em:

I wonder why the Amul folks pack the cheese in metal tins in the first place, while there is a plethora of options available ..

Hope your thumb heals soon ..

PS: Read my post

2:24 am  
Blogger Priya said...

Agree with Rimi there --you do it in style Lady :) And came to say your wish is my command. A post is up. Btw, you didn't comment on my previous one,Babe! Run along, now.

8:39 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Ram- I guess cans are oldfashioned these days, but there was a time they were the height of food preserving technology. I prefer cans mostly because the alternative is plastic and I have issues about biodegradability and so on.

Oh, I heal fast. And yes, I read your post, well reasoned and well-written, nagging has its uses, no?

Priya- How touching that all the people I nag have actually paid heed to the nagging. Lovely it was too, angel.

12:40 pm  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

@ Missus Em:

There are options available besides tins and plastic, and they're eco-friendly too .. The fact is, the adoption cycle of packaging technology for companies is far too long ..

Thx for reading my post, have posted again

12:17 am  
Blogger neha vish said...

I love cheese.

1:07 pm  
Anonymous WhereverYouMayJerome said...

Tis all a reminder of what denying cheesecake can do.

How much sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful tab.(I suppose you refused to pick it up.)

Beer tastes be'er from a bottle.

1:53 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Ram- You posted again? Will wonders never cease? I will go and read anon.

Neha- I love cheese too. I love paneer too, for that 'mater' heh.

Whereveryoumayjerome- K Jerome, hah! Are you saying I should have propitiated that cheese tin with cake before trying to open it?

I picked up the tab, yeah and paid in blood and sweat too.

Beer is always better from a bottle, there is more of it, for one thing.

2:35 pm  
Blogger Revealed said...

And for that very same reason, a tin of corn stands all alone sulking on top of my fridge. *sigh*

As to word perfect I dunno where you can get it! I got it with my Dell lappie. I'm of no technological use to anyone on general principle (the principle being that I'm an ignoramus)

11:49 pm  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

On the contrary, I prefer the ready to open tabs in my cans. Not for me the toiling with the can opener. But then, guess I am better in the Herculean strength department. ;)

8:07 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Revealed- Thankfully, my style of cooking uses very little by way of canned stuff. It's only the cheese I buy in tins. Other than pickles, it's all fresh food.

I am of no use to anybody technologically, either. And it gives me a chance to gripe about it, so let me stick to Word, then.

Ram- Hi and welcome back.

It's not a toil with the can opener, it's a breeze. That's why I resent this new-fangled development. :-)

2:25 pm  

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