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?