Doing the rounds
Writing can be quite unpredictable. When I start to write something, for example, I’m not always sure of how it might turn out to be. Sometimes, I’ll start on an idea that I believe might be a serious no-nonsense critique of mismanaged traffic system in Bangalore city, and halfway through the article, I’ll find out I just wrote about why pillion riders should learn to double check their low rider jeans before they bend forward on their bikes. (Twice in a lifetime is more than what I should be subjected to these ‘half-moons’, really. So back off, destiny; I’m over quota)
And sometimes, it can work the other way too. As of this particular sentence, I’m still not sure how this article’s gonna build up. So, in the spirit of taking no chances, I’m gonna start things up with a joke. I remember this one from Readers Digest.
In the heart of Africa, a guy suffering from severe headache goes to the local witchdoctor. After listening to the symptoms, the witchdoctor is quick with his prescription “You must drink the Buhua potion.”
“What is that?”
“Take one fresh ox’s tongue, rooster’s head, bat wings, dried guano, two crushed beetles, cat spit and blood from a young calf. Mix them thoroughly with cow’s urine, and have it three times a day.”
“Ugh? is this the only way?”
“Yes. Make sure you grind everything to a pulp. Oh, and one more thing.”
“God. What else?”
“Along with the potion, take one of these aspirin tablets as well.”
Ha ha. Get it? The buhua potion is just a… The aspirin! That’s what does the trick. It’s… well, ok. Never mind. Let’s get back to the article.
Regular, or semi-regular readers might remember that the regular Hamish is almost two times the man he was a few years ago, speaking purely in terms of tonnage. I’m not one to brag, but this amazing feat was achieved by a careful and strict regimen of pizzas, fried rice, chicken kebabs, biriyanis, ham and eggs, burgers, potato chips, milkshakes, chocolate, sweets, doughnuts, french fries, butter cookies, peanut butter, cake, aerated soft drinks and 14 varieties of cheese. This unprecedented growth rate went on for quite some time, and instead of congratulations/ green jealous looks from the spectators, all I got was advice. Over the years, I have probably heard all kinds of advice to cut myself down to size, but around 90% of those can be traced down to two golden rules.
1. Diet control
2. Exercise control
Sometimes it’s one. Sometimes the other, and sometimes, it’s a combination of the two. I’m always open to suggestions, but these two run counter to my core competencies and principles. Diet control? A hard core foodie who eats like it’s a personal mission from God can hardly be expected to start living on grass and herbs. Exercise control? if you were to ask some close friend of mine to list out the most striking feature of Hamish Joy, laze would be on top of the list. Garfield could take lessons from me.
But a lifestyle change seemed to be advocated from all fronts, and eventually, I accepted that I may not appreciate a lifetime of being mistaken for the Goodyear blimp.So I tried to listen in a bit more carefully to the various advices I continued to receive… I started making a list
- “I know this fabulous diet you need to try out”
- “Change your life. Wake up at five, and walk around for just half an hour. You’re going to feel so relaxed.”
- “Drink two glasses of water before every meal. That’s gonna curb your appetite”
- “Never use elevators. Use the stairs.”
- “Avoid oily foods. No french fries. No fried chicken. No fried anything.”
- “Walk to your office everyday.”
- “Try a fruit only diet for two months. That ought to work wonders. What? No. You can’t deep fry an apple”
- “Pray to Jesus. He’ll make all the fat go away.”
Even as I made the list, I could see that every one of them conformed to the two classifications I’ve already written down. Well, except the last one. Exorcising my fat away was a very novel suggestion. I was tempted to pour on some holy water, read parables and scream ‘The power of Christ compels you‘ straight at my stomach, but I couldn’t possibly go through that without laughing, and the power of Christ is only compelling if you act serious about it.
I tried my hand at applying the two golden rules to myself. On day one, I walked an hour. I munched on carrots and cucumbers, telling myself “Aah… Ziz eez good.”, even though it felt ridiculous talking to myself in that accent. Day 2 too was a triumph for my willpower. Day 3, however, saw my head sunk in Tiramisu, holding fried chicken in one hand and milkshake in the other. I could metaphorically see my willpower chuckling an evil laugh, covering his face with his cloak and disappearing into the night. A sneaky villain, you must agree. Lulled me into a false faith in the first two days and then stabbed me in the back on the third.
This was not the first time it had happened. My willpower had proven his treacherous ways before. And I was reminded of the old saying – Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twenty seven times, it’s time to go to a weight loss clinic. I was never too keen on signing up with a weight loss clinic, but the indelible picture of the Goodyear blimp got me to revise my decision.
A friend suggested a particular clinic that I am not allowed to name under the threat of courtroom battles. He said it used high tech machines and that his friends had gotten good results from it. Verified results. Now that’s a rare thing from places like these. So I paid this place a visit. Sure enough, they had sophisticated equipment all over the place. You could see they were sophisticated cos they had colorful displays and beeped every time it printed out something. And you could see the people there were trained professionals, cos they wore white lab-coats and carried notepads. They read out all the reports and explained their conclusions (“Holy crap, are u fat or what!”). They sat me down for an hour explaining the various methods they’d use to get me to lose weight and how they’d keep track of all the weight that I’ll be shedding by the day. They used technical terms, anecdotes, jargon, and possibly even threw in a fat joke somewhere there, but I wasn’t paying much attention to the specifics. I was looking for mentions of the two golden rules. None. Number of talk points revolving around diet – nada. Number of talk points revolving around exercise – zilch. I joined up immediately.
It was like a high profile boxing match by then. High tech versus fat.
Round 1. Vibrating straps around my stomach. Really? This is it? It felt quite inconceivable that this was actually going to do me any good other than maybe make it easier for me to learn belly dancing, and that’s not what I signed up for. But then I told myself “Calm down. There have been verified results. Something must work here”
Round 2. Body massages at high temperature. Really? Sauna? But hold on, Hammy, don’t knock it yet. Remember – verified results!
Round 3. I was directed to the dietician. Huh? Dietician? I didn’t remember this part from the brochure. I got a list of food to avoid, and specific food items that I was to consume on a daily basis. It all started sounding suspiciously like witch doctors prescribing aspirin. The exotic muck is for show, while the aspirin cured the headache in the background – the unsung hero. Well, I’d already paid for the sessions, so I might as well take the advice. Sure I’ve been getting free diet tips for years, but this dietician was different. She was wearing a white lab coat. And I figured – Hey, at least they didn’t ask me to exercise, right?
Round 4. I was directed to the… physiotherapist??? For those who are not clear about the term, in this context, it stands for “The guy who’s going to prescribe your exercises”. The cold smell of aspirin filled the air again. This was still a boxing match, but not the one I actually paid to see. Instead of the unknown rookie, high tech, knocking out the undefeated reigning champion, fat, in a fair match, I saw that high tech was merely a puppet, dancing to the tune of veteran boxing legends diet and exercise.
And despite this obviously unfair advantage, fat was still winning. He’s like Rocky Balboa, getting pummeled in the face in one round, but coming back for more in the next; like he was supposed to be fighting an exhibition match against an unknown amateur featherweight geek, but was blindsided inside the ring by Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago punching the daylights out of him from three sides… and he was STILL winning.
Time out. Did I just make ‘fat’ the hero of this match? Gawd. That’s not good. Fat has to be ‘villainized’ again. The weight loss clinic did take out the fun from the match, but they’re not the villain here. Fat is. How do we get there? Ah… well, fat was clearly outnumbered, outclassed, and outmatched; so why was he still winning? He was cheating. He had a nefarious accomplice in the sideline, an insider surreptitiously pelting stones at both diet and exercise right smack in the face from time to time, using a hidden catapult. And the identity of this mischief maker is hardly mysterious. It has to be… the infamously weak Hamish Willpower, fighting in stealth mode against both diet AND exercise. Think about it; without a saboteur, it would be quite impossible for Rocky to… I mean ‘fat’ to… Hmm… Rocky…. I’m afraid I have to leave this discussion at this stage. I need to watch all the Rocky movies again right away. If I remember right, Rocky’s wife, Adrian, doesn’t show herself to the public until the end of each match. It’d be interesting if I zoom in on her on the DVD and see a hidden catapult somewhere, wouldn’t you agree?