Monday, July 31, 2006

Dave Barry and Fat Women

It so happened that one day I was walking down Carter Road and I noticed a lot of young people and the thought came to my mind, “My god, these kids are fat! Will you just look at the young women especially! They are not even trying to pretend that their fat parts don’t exist by covering them up either as they used to do in my day!”
This is, of course, good news for us as a nation. In years gone by Indian women were starving themselves and painting gook on their faces so that they would get chosen Miss Universe and they would be on TV and everybody would clap and they would get lots and lots of money. Now, they are walking around in skin-tight lumpy outfits with such grace and abandon that it cheers the heart.
I had long suspected that women would soon suss out that all this business of getting thin and becoming Miss Universe was a big scam, perpetrated by men who wanted to keep all the food for themselves, which is why I was very pleased recently when my alert journalism colleague Santosh Kadam referred me to an Associated Press article concerning a discovery made by scientists at the Kasargod Institute of Science (KIS), Mangalore, that women who had waist size 34” or more, or who weighed 70 kg or more, tended to live longer, earn more money, have more boyfriends and generally have a lot more fun than women who did not.
The article, headlined Fatties Rule, also said that both men and women who were candid in their enjoyment of food were much more likely to be expressive and flamboyant in other areas of life and body as well. It went on to aver that unselfconscious enjoyment of food did mind-blowing things with the amino-acid-inhibitors released by the peritoneum, which led to a feeling of general well-being as well as spontaneous and often rather dramatic opening of the chakras. (In case you are unfamiliar with nutrition-related terminology, I should explain that an “amino acid inhibitor” is apparently some kind of thing in the human digestive system.)
Aside from Carter Road, I also noticed a lot of large-sized girls and women at various Baristas, Café Coffee Days, and some malls and multiplexes. They bulged out of their shorts and halter tops with calm confidence, and added a cool 4 spoons of sugar to their coffee even when everyone was watching. They were businesslike and could on occasion be quite ruthless if anyone happened to pass comments. Consider what happened to Ramesh Shetye of Gayatri Mall, Wanowari, Pune, whose story was brought to my attention by alert reader Pandurang Popat.
Ramesh had been hired by the Fancy Foods Company to cut and offer tiny slices of their new product YummyBix which came in 3 flavours (wild berry, musk, and chocolate), and earnestly explain to shoppers the virtues of YummyBix while they were eating their free samples.
A certain Preeti Arnyani (name changed on request) was savouring her sixth little slice when Ramesh, who was describing the ingredients and other virtues of YummyBix in a continuous, rapid-fire monologue, started explaining their low-calorie aspect. This so annoyed Preeti Arnyani that she hit him very hard on the head with her handbag with the result that – in Ramesh’s own words – “Concussion ki wajah se admit kiya mere ko. Teen bottle lagana pada.”
“I think she was fully justified in what she did,” Preeti’s protective and well-built elder sister Sweety avowed. “Sometimes when I’m at a party taking my fourth helping of dessert and some silly ass of a man will look at my plate and say ‘bas? You’re on diet or what?’ and I will gather up saliva in my mouth and spit in his eye. I do that to anyone who tries to suggest that I or any other woman might be (or should be) on a diet. But of course that doesn’t stop them. It’s very hard explaining to certain types of people, you try it and see.”
And you’re just not going to believe what happened last week when I went for a swim at the Bombay Gym pool with my teenage son Archie, but I swear it is the truth. Six enormous women in string bikinis were lined up to jump from the high diving board. In they plopped, one after the other, and there was a succession of wobbly thighs cutting elegant arcs in the air as they dived. Before the last one entered the water, a small commotion arose. Apparently a man sitting at a table near the pool, watching with a thoughtful look on his face, had made some kind of absent-minded observation to himself about the Archimedes Principle. One of the women swam gracefully around, pulled herself up smartly over the edge of the pool to her waist, leaned over, clamped a rather large hand around his ankle – and tugged and dragged the astonished man right into the pool. The others then floated across on their backs, and they took turns at placidly holding his head under the water, completely unconcerned by his kicking, struggling and spluttering. After the man finally came out, red in the face and gasping – and I wish to stress that I am not making any of this up – they went right back and did several stylish lengths in tandem. They came pretty close to Archie and me, but it was never scary; it was – and here I will quote Herman Melville – very cool.
It turned out that the man had been an actual Miss Universe judge, and several alert readers called in over the next few weeks to tell me that he had gone home that day with a huge box of chocolates for his wife (who had apparently had gone into shock and been unable to speak for 48 hours after seeing him with it) and flung his daughter’s entire collection of South Beach, Atkins, General Motors, Fit for Life and other related material out of the window. The next day he sent in his papers to the Miss Universe Corp, quoting “Better Prospects” as his reason for leaving.
First appeared in Sunday Mid-day on 30 Jul 2006, as part of a series in which Saaz parodied a range of humour writers, using their voices to tell Bombay stories.

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