The past four years have given my granny ample grounds to curse my college for making me waif-thin. And many other grannies too. We were an underfed bunch in the GB, for whom pickle was staple food, and the only reason any of us would be found near a blood donation camp was for transfusions.
Okay, it isn’t as bad as I make it out to be. But take it for granted there were a good bunch of people who, after being well-fed on simple, good food for eighteen years, were made to come in contact with mess food, and depend on it for survival. And the results were apparent within months. A lot of us lost weight like anything, suffered hairfall, and a few even started passing out and suffered deficiencies.
The thing is, we weren’t used to going out for every meal. And when we did, it wasn’t wholesome simple food. It took time to strike the right balance between swallowing cupfuls of dal consoling ourselves with the thought of all the protein, and pigging it out in Mangalore.
Obvious fallout – we were all on a see-food diet.
People generally associate girls with dieting and “do I look fat in this?”, but phrases and fads like those were unheard of in NITK Girls Block. Sure, there were the occasional few who refused chocolate, but those were an aberration – more on this later. We indulged whenever we could.
Like the mandatory pizza outings after a week of nightouts… where we’d have large pizzas with double cheese toppings and even cheesier conversations. (Poonam, I miss those bigtime). And innumerable meals at Cherry Square which all ended with Some Like It Hot for dessert.
(Actually, this phase made me a connoisseur-of-sorts. So what if we didn’t have good food to eat, that didn’t stop us from reading up about sturgeon caviar, kim-chi, gazpacho, exquisite pastries, you name it. At this point, I should mention my neighbor Pubali who was well-known for her collection of food pictures. I feel proud to have contributed and for still continuing to contribute in my own modest way to her massive collection.)
Girls in general don’t have monstrous appetites, and me most of all. I’ve always been picked on by family members for my picky eating habits, and I’ve always shared the table with people who look at my plate and say “Hmm… no wonder you are so small”, and comments like “Cya… make sure to eat well” have been staple diet for me.
After S’kal, my appetite has greatly improved, mainly due to sharing the table with what my grandmother would call people with healthy appetites. Peer pressure makes me indulge. And I’m not complaining… I don’t have to contend with overcooked vegetables and oily preparations anymore.
Hence, when my social circle expanded to include people from different walks of life, it is taking me a lot of time to come to terms with PEOPLE WITH PICKIER EATING HABITS THAN ME!!!!
I never thought that was possible. To start with, I used to dine with people who took second, third and fourth helpings of everything, giving me a complex about the single helpings on my plate. And then, others joined us. When we’d be halfway through rumaali rotis with dal makhani, people with their bowl of fruit salad and glass of carrot juice would join us. We’d just think that was their idea of a starter, but they’d leave the table by the time we’d moved on to kashmiri pulav. And they’d never come back!
Maybe they were lunching elsewhere… “Do you eat lunch outside?”, I proceeded to clear my doubts. They said they didn’t. Maybe they’d come back for a real lunch later when the crowds thin… nope, I was wrong there. That bowl of salad that would be part of a snack for me was their lunch.
And there were others who fasted one day a week not for religious reasons, but to stay slim.
I recall this incident when a friend of mine approached this task with determination in finalYear and lost such a lot of weight, so much that considerable difficulty was encountered in draping a saree for the Ring Ceremony.
These fruit-lovers might worry about fitting into their jeans; after the previous example quoted, I think the only worry I should probably have is fitting into a saree.
I’ve never known people who would voluntarily give up food like that. But, oh, well, different people have different food habits. If I don’t have a problem with Koreans who have very rare steaks and dog meat, or with Manipuris who apparently eat crow-meat, or Assamese friends and their bamboo delicacies, or folks close to the Chinese border with a love for mice and grasshopper snacks, I shouldn’t have a problem with fruit-eaters. After all, my eating habits would too be strange to a lot of people… like someone from the cowbelt asked me, “How can you eat curd and rice mixed?”.