I had a time when I was called by my nickname “aana”, vernacular for an Elephant. I was plump, and overweight would have sounded a blatant understatement. I spent most of my awake minutes in the kitchen, to an utter displeasure of my ARMYMAN father. I would gossip to my mother about neighborhood aunties and she would share some of her trademark recipes with me. In the pretense, I would sample half of all the Papads, fried fish or upperi(dry vegetable dish) my mother roiled and my mother being a mother, would wholeheartedly support me in continuing the sampling act. My Fitness freak father would pass by and from his brood expression I would hint his level of exasperation. Those were my prepubescent days, those good ol days of fun and frolic.
I cared two hoots about my appearance. As long as the neighborhood “chechis”( young women) called me CUTE and brought me toffees , it didn’t bother me much. I was a ladies’ man even then. I would push myself into the private and confidential rooms of neighborhood CHECHIS and explore myself of the many treasure that waited for me to be stumbled. I remember once asking a chichi (she was in 11th or 12th) about a flowery plastic pack with words ‘Carefree sanitary Pads’, and she blushing and telling me that it was some medicine.
Then comes an age when I abruptly turned into a skin-and-bone. My Elephant like body stature lasted only till I was of about 10 years and as soon as I plunked into adolescence, there was so much of changes happening in me that I transformed myself into a lean-tall-young-lad as if overnight. I still don’t know what went through my body but I was totally changed. I gained almost 2 feet in height in as many years and from a boy of 50 kgs and 4.5 feet, I became a lad of 6 feet, albeit with the same weight. One could easily demonstrate anatomy lessons to medical students with my body, instead of a skeleton and I was again derided; but this time around for an exact opposite grounds.
My always-thriving hunger diminished to a level when I would hardly eat anything to the utter annoyance of my father. He would bellow at me to eat and instruct mom to prepare anything and everything that I liked. I remember; I would argue with him and he would force me to have dinner. Me, for that matter my entire family couldn’t figure-out where my hunger disappeared at such short notice. I was taken to a physician and she advised my worried dad that everything was normal and such changes do occur when boys abruptly turn to men. I remember being asked to take digestive syrups and multi-vitamin capsules so that my worried family could see me as my old-fat-self. As I write this I realize how much my family loved me and cared about my health. And how much I have hurt my poor Dad so far, Sorry DAD!!!!
I was lean and trim throughout my early adult life until I started working. After my professional education, my first employers happened to be THE TAJ GROUP OF HOTELS and that’s when the foodie self emerged itself out of me . We had a week of Induction training at Taj Residency hotel in Bangalore and were arranged to stay in the hotel. Et voila, that was my first ever FIVE STAR HOTEL STAY and the food, the luxurious restaurants, coffee shops enthralled me by no mean description. I was this man who had zilch etiquettes and table manners and had to go through several-a-struggle to look fitting into an ambiance of opulence. That’s when it occurred to me that a fork is to be held on the left hand and a knife on the right. The first time I saw a soup spoon, I thought it was some manufacturing defect and almost called the steward for a replacement. What embarrassment it would have been otherwise.
Out of one week, we spent a day of training in the BAR and got a chance to appreciate and discover several names of Wine, whiskey, cognacs, which primarily sounded like greek-latin . I learned that to serve a whisky in wine goblet (as shown in bollywood movies) is as ludicrous as serving jalebis with sambar . It was eureka moments to learn that Champagne is a place in France and not the name of the person who first got drunk on it.
The next phase was the arrival of the leading lady of my life. My wife has this thing about experimenting everything that she comes across on the TV cookery shows and I was made a guinea pig many a times. Our first months after marriage were spent eating out every single day as my wife couldn’t even make a proper cuppa tea. It was after several months that she finally presented before a hungry me, my first meal of wife-made rice and sambar. More about that later……
P.S: I have just about 50 pages left of the book that i was supposed to come with a review. My next post shall be that, Inshallah.