banno, dhanno and teja in bumm-bumm-bhole-land

fat and dumb

Coming back from IFFI Goa 2008, Pu and I were latched on to by a fellow film buff. That’s one of the dangers you encounter at film festivals, the single male who thinks females without male escorts are simply waiting to be bored.

During the 13-hour journey, we were subjected to about 10 hours of monologue on his part. His love story, work schedule, assets, liabilities, future plans, diet, piggy bank habits and so on. He also saw fit to be nasty to a fellow traveller who mistakenly asked us for details about the festival. And proceeded to give Pu a lecture on how she should not talk to strangers, because she insisted on answering the man’s queries. Pu bravely argued for 4 hours while I glared out into the darkening evening.

As a quick aside to me he asked, “Have you always been this fat, or have you put on weight recently? You should take care of yourself, you know. Don’t you walk? Do you like eating too much?”

Pu and I were shocked enough to be dumbstruck. In the rickshaw back home, when we had finally shaken him off, we spluttered with ineffective rage. The next day I read in Mumbai Mirror of the ruckus between Shiney Ahuja and Isha Koppikar. Getting back to a shoot schedule after a 3 week break, he said to her, ‘You’ve grown fatter.” She retorted back, “And you’ve grown uglier.” He skulked off, apparently.

Oh, how Pu and I need lessons in repartee! What’s the use of comeback lines that come to you a day too late?

And coincidentally, I had written this before I went to Goa, but not posted it, just because ….

The trouble is that the ripply, wavery lines and the wobbly bits in the mirror don’t bother me. I’d have a better chance of sticking to my diet and exercise regime if I didn’t quite see myself (and everyone else) with the same eyes that I see a Renoir painting or a Meghalaya landscape . The trouble is I like both the banyan and the coconut trees. I like watermelons as much as I do strawberries. I like flat stomachs and round stomachs, young faces and old, wrinkled ones. Muscled bodies and flabby bodies both tell their own stories to me.

That’s not to say I haven’t spent a considerable amount of time in the last decade agonizing about the kilos I piled on during one extremely stressful phase of life. But the agony was brought on mainly by people whose idea of conversation-starters is “Oh God, you’ve become fat.” Or “You’ve really lost weight. The last time I saw you, you were fat.”

I really wonder what people are thinking when they assail friends, strangers, family, all and sundry with retorts like:

1. You’re looking much better these days. Less ill.
2. You’re looking awful. You have a double chin.
3. What’s happened to your hair?
4. You’ve grown older. You used to be so pretty.
5. What’s up with the crow’s feet?
6. You never used to have those shadows under your eyes. You should sleep more.
7. You should exercise more. Don’t you go to the gym?
8.  Are you happy?  Are you still with the same guy? Just asking.

Maybe I should start using the grass wheel, eh Grasshopper?

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25 comments on “fat and dumb

  1. Grasshopper
    December 7, 2008

    first, i am gonna pour out my angst. there is someone in the extended family who treats me badly because I am older to her in age but younger in rishta. I suppose she fears she looks older to me, though in fact she is ten years younger.
    I would love to tell her to go jump in a lake if ever she says something nasty. Problem is, she just doesn’t acknowledge me, and that’s even worse.
    Your train wala asshole you can at least give galis to him later, in your mind, in your blog.
    Yes, I think we should both get a grass wheel made for each one of us and roll it through traffic.Two fat women in two big wheels! Ha ha!

  2. neha
    December 7, 2008

    Oh my god. This happens to me all the time. Random people lecturing me on the virtues of healthy food, healthy lifestyle, yoga, and other things.

    Ugh.

  3. Banno
    December 7, 2008

    Grasshopper, I really long to take lessons in being rude. I think it’s a serious drawback, this not being able to be hit back.

    Neha, Really tiresome, isn’t it? Though I’m all for healthy food, healthy lifestyle, I hate being told. Period.

  4. shankari
    December 7, 2008

    I thot it was me – unhappy when I was skinny and uncomfortable when now I’m with tyres to spare.

    The kids are lovely – telling me how much they love me even if I start rolling around, (or even if I get just a ‘C’ in my term papers) but other peoples are not so nice. Fat and dumb if I am, whats it to them, huhn?

    The hell with them[Period]

  5. memsaab
    December 7, 2008

    On my second trip to India, I went to my friend Bina’s father’s family house in Gujarat. Bina is short and very slender; all the aunties and cousins gathered around chattering away and looking at us (me) and an uncle gleefully translated that they were discussing whether Bina had lost weight or if she just looked smaller next to her large friend.

    I just had to laugh. Banno, you are absolutely lovely and don’t need to change a thing (unless you are unhappy with it). Anyway, skinny is way overrated esp. as we get older; fatter people look younger longer. As Bette Davis? said: you end up having to choose between your face looking good or your a**.

    I’m always going to choose my face!

  6. bollyviewer
    December 8, 2008

    Rudeness by strangers – why is it that we find it so hard to be rude back? More than classes in rudeness, I think one needs a will to be like that, and thats not something we can “learn”!

    For me usually its my name – I have a single name with no surname. So, Indians quiz me about my surname to find out my caste while non-Indians cant understand how I file taxes with a single name! And this comes even from chance-met strangers. After a lifetime of such experiences, I still havent been able to come up with a suitable retort!

  7. Banno
    December 8, 2008

    Shankari, Oh yeah! Thank God for kids and husbands who love you the way you are. Though Dhanno is at that age where she is inclined to look at me with an amused and critical gaze.

    Memsaab, totally agree. I’m quite happy really with the way I look, but it never ceases to amaze me how unhappy others can get with the way someone else looks!

    Bollyviewer, oh names! That requires another post. I also have a Parisian friend, who’s been visiting India for 20 odd years, every year, and counts the number of times he’s asked on each trip about why he is not married!

  8. SUR NOTES
    December 8, 2008

    it takes you a day to come up with a nasty retort? i knew you were my soul sister!

    come on, come on, tell us about the films at the festival.

  9. @lankr1ta
    December 9, 2008

    Big hugs, I get it all the time. From long lost aunts- “whats with the spots” I mean seriously- is that what they see, them no oil-paintings.. I feel for you

  10. Beth
    December 9, 2008

    Yipes! I would have burst into tears, I’m sure. I’m glad midwestern Americans tend not to be quite so forward.

    A friend of mine responds to the question “Are you married?” with “Should I be?” Tee.

  11. Banno
    December 9, 2008

    Sur, yes, we are. Where have you been? Will write about the films sooner or later, I guess. Saw around 30 odd films :-)

    Alankrita, really, isn’t that the most astonishing part, that the people who pass these remarks aren’t exactly super-model material themselves?

    Beth, I only scowled away for the better part of the day. Forward is not the word, people here just sit in your lap, whether you give them a chance to or not.

  12. dipali
    December 9, 2008

    You know, I did it myself the other day when I met a friend after a very long time, and then felt most ashamed of myself. And I am not slim by any stretch of imagination. Dumb(:

  13. memsaab
    December 9, 2008

    I tell people (when they ask why I’m not married) that I’m overqualified for it :-)

  14. parotechnics
    December 10, 2008

    hello, since I am the winner in thefatness department and i’ve never been anything but, i’ve had to live a life of other people’s shit. For instance guy I am on first date with as I laugh that i had to wear a sari for something: oh you must have looked like a football in it. Needless to say I did not offer to split the bill – I just paid it contemptuously.
    Now I only have one response – did you learn to be this ill mannered or were you always like this. As for Isha K she definitely rules.

    But I am starting a letter service for anyone who wants to avail of it: Chaanta Laga. I feel no harm thinking os smart lines afterwards. Simply put them in an email and send. If you are too tender to do so yourself, I am happy to assist.

  15. Banno
    December 10, 2008

    Dipali, I did that the other day, saying to a friend, ‘You’ve grown thinner’, and then bit my tongue, because she definitely didn’t want to be thinner. Sometimes, even what you mean to be compliments can bounce back.

    Memsaab, that’s really cool. I’m going to pass on this retort to my French friend.

    Paro, Yes, I’m going to really mug up this response, (yours and Isha’s) so no chances of being dumbstruck again. I love your idea of Chaanta Laga, Oh yes!

  16. Banno
    December 10, 2008

    Pu, my friend who was braving the bore with me, responded thus by email (posted with her permission) -

    I love u for this.. for what u have written there. U know since we came back there was something disturbing continuously…. like not having done the right thing.. and I know what is that… that we tolerated him for so long..why couldn’t we shrug him off..?

    How do people do that ? smart people?.Instead.. we spoilt our journey… ended up with headache , jaw ache ( after competing with him for four hours verbally), irritation. And why on earth why..? Everything was so pleasant otherwise… we had such a great time.. this *#@ … I don’t know what to say….

    So your writing is a breather ….. and also the para u wrote before we went to Goa and posted now…. I love u for that.( I somehow want him to read this ).That is a lovely piece u have written so u should
    post it everywhere.. people should read it.A very good piece indeed!

    (actually my hands are itching to give him back which we could not that day).

    But yes we will be smarter and ruder. At least with these sort of MEN. I promise.. I will definitely try…

  17. Grasshopper
    December 11, 2008

    A sweet little surprise for you here : http://baktoo.blogspot.com/2008/12/pat-on-my-back.html

  18. Anonymous
    December 12, 2008

    that is beautifully written- the piece about loving the flat and the flabby and the way both have stories to tell.
    like how you wish films would also tell those stories, of not ‘gorgeous’ looking women only- or specific stories of what it means to live like a ‘gorgeous woman’.

    yeah, i have heard such comments to- a ex boyfriend, a shared evening, one you know is fly by night and he says’ your skin used to be tight, you used to look so lovely’ and you remember how you used to love his paunch, like you loved the rest of him!

  19. Unmana
    December 13, 2008

    Beautifully written, as always, Banno!

  20. the ppcc
    December 17, 2008

    Memsaab’s right, and you’re right, Banno. The “virtues of skinniness” lecture blows. We’re not cookie cutter people, and I’m totally down with your humanist philosophy, Banno: round, flat, it’s all good! Variety makes happy.

    By the way, subbed to your blog after seeing it linked again and again on Memsaab’s – loving it!

  21. Ashley
    December 17, 2008

    How rude!! I would also have been at a loss for words. Wow. I am amazed that someone would do that.

  22. Banno
    December 17, 2008

    Anonymous, yes, men can be really nasty at times.

    Unmana, thanks!

    the ppcc, thank you. I’ve been reading your blog too, because of Memsaab!

    Ahsley, hmm, people do that quite often.

  23. Pitu
    January 2, 2009

    Accha pehle to, Thankee for adding me to your blogroll.

    Secondly, jo log staircase wit hote hain unke liye ek simple solution hai (and one which I have employed often during my violent childhood). Next time someone says something nasty, respond with a

    G on the L :-D

    Need I elucidate?

  24. Pitu
    January 2, 2009

    Err I meant L on the G *snigger*!

  25. Anindita
    January 9, 2009

    At a wedding the other day, a friend of mine greets my husband saying, ‘you’ve put on so much weight! you’re looking round!’. This is the same person who told me the day before that, ‘you’ve lost so much weight! you’re looking small, like you’ve shrunk.’ Seems you can’t win with some people. But yes, it baffles me. What are they thinking when they greet people saying such things? That it will produce a warm, little glow?

    Whew! Rant over. You blog is fun. Liked the Ghajini post as well. :)

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This entry was posted on December 7, 2008 by in Banno, me just me and tagged , .
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