Usha
One of the things I dread when visiting people after a few years is the comment on one's appearance. There never seems to be a right weight to escape notice.When you lose weight you "look like a ghost" and when you add girth you never hear the end of it. Just as you gracefully accept what seem like compliments about the "healthy" look, subtle hints come along, compounding insult and injury,about the need to watch one's weight at "this age". You will be told that you look "just right" but anything more would be "dangerous" and this is when you retract the hand just about to reach for the nice crispy murukkus or Myseorepak from Krishna sweets placed in front of you.

You cannot escape the issue even if you have maintained your weight -opinion will be divided on whether you have become thinner or fatter since the last trip and sometimes the dispute gets referred to a third umpire while you wait in embarrassment.It is worse when you are asked to be the arbitrator between two people arguing if you have grown thinner or fatter. Invariably, the conversation drifts to this within the first 5 minutes of the meeting and lingers on the topic for at least 5 mins. I sometimes wonder if i should carry some proof of my weight details and my doctor's approval of it so that i can hand it over when the topic unfolds and seal the matter once and for all.

I do not think people are really interested in the weight loss/gain details but do it as a way to warm up to a conversation - like the Brits and the weather ( see below). I wish people would stick to the weather but no, they want to sound interested in you and so it is the personal details of your weight and its consequent effects on your appearance.

There is no way to get around the topic. Last time while visiting an incorrigible weight discusser,I thought I was smart and decided to use the attack first. Being untrained in the art, all I could manage was a neutral "hey you look great!!". And the next 15 minutes I heard nothing but the miracle recipes she had tried and her diet routine and how I must also try the same and "get back into shape".And so like the Brahmastra, the weapon came back to me and then again my appearance became the topic for the next 10 minutes.

I have tried inane repartees like "No, i just got a bit shorter" or "I had a haircut" when asked if i have gained or lost weight. But no, they just dont work ; people wave it aside and then repeat the question with "no, seriously, have you..."
Does this happen only to me or are there other kindred souls in such suffering? I wonder how they handle it.

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The Brits and the weather
from "How to be an alien" by George Mikes

The Weather

This is the most important topic in the land. Do not be misled by memories of your youth when, on the Continent, wanting to describe someone as exceptionally dull, you remarked: "He is the type who would discuss the weather with you." In England this is an ever-interesting, even thrilling topic, and you must be good as discussing the weather.

Examples for conversation For Good Weather
"Lovely day, isn't it?"
"Isn't it beautiful?"
"The sun ..."
"Isn't it gorgeous?"
"Wonderful, isn't it?"
"It's so nice and hot ..."
"Personally, I think it's so nice when it's hot - isn't it?"
"I adore it - don't you?"

For Bad weather:

"Nasty day, isn't it?"
"Isn't it dreadful?"
"The rain ... I hate the rain ..."
"I don't like it at all. Do you?"
"Fancy such a day in July. Rain in the morning, then a bit of sunshine, and then rain, rain, rain all day long."
"I remember exactly the same July day in 1936."
"Yes, I remember too."
"Or was it in 1928?"
"Yes, it was."
"Or in 1939?"
"Yes, that's right."

Now observe the last few sentences of this conversation. A very important rule emerges from it. You must never contradict anybody when discussing the weather. Should it hail and snow, should hurricanes uproot the trees from the sides of the road, and should someone remark to you: "Nice day, isn't it?" - answer without hesitation: "Isn't it lovely?"

Learn the above conversation by heart. If you are a bit slow in picking things up, learn at least one conversation, it would do wonderfully for any occasion.

If you do not say anything else for the rest of your life, just repeat this conversation, you still have a fair chance of passing as a remarkably witty man of sharp intellect, keen observation and extremely pleasant manners.
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English society is a class society, strictly organised almost on corporative lines. If you doubt this, listen to the weather forecasts. There is always a different weather forecast for farmers. You often hear statements like this on the radio:

"Tomorrow it will be cold, cloudy and foggy; long periods of rain will be interrupted by short periods of showers."

And then:

"Weather forecast for farmers. It will be fair and warm, many hours of sunshine."

You must not forget that farmers do grand work of national importance and deserve better weather.
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10 Responses
  1. I know, I know! The usual ritual during each visit to relatives. I usually just smile, not refuting anything they want to believe! Even when 2 of them say the exact opposite things!


  2. Vijay Says:

    Give it a thought -
    http://sufferingsocrates.blogspot.com/2005/11/enough-is-enough.html


  3. thennavan Says:

    Belated Deepavali wishes :-)


  4. Go dressed like Marilyn Manson. Nobody would not ask you nothing no more!


  5. Thanu Says:

    So true. When ever I go back home, dad, mom and friends, everyone talks about weight. I just agree and shake heads

    -thanu


  6. Thanu Says:

    I mean head not heads


  7. One more suggestion (a wilder one!). Whenever someone asks about something one does not want to answer, what about pulling out one's shotgun and telling like Samuel Jackson does in "Pulp Fiction": "I dare you, I double dare you, motherhuggers, You say one more "what" and I will shoot you."

    Note: I hope, I didn't offend anyone. It was just an attempt at a lame joke! :D


  8. My 15 year old cousin, who's staying with us went back to his place after 6 months. An aunt of ours said "You've changed 75%" (It doesnot sound so funny in Marathi). Pushkar says "You are not wearing your specs Nalu kaku, are you sure you are looking at me"

    Someone actually told him that he's become shorter.


  9. The comments are actually more people's expectations of what you must be, rather than what it actualy is. When I started working after my son was 2, each visit home was a confrontation with oh, she's lost so much weight!
    this would never come from my Mom and sis, but from assorted relatives.

    Now, I actually HAVE lost a little weight, but they are used to the idea of me juggling baby and work, so no comments on the weighty issue.
    People, I say! But for all that, I love going home and visiting them all and getting updated on the latest gosip.

    The weather update for farmers and non-frmers was LOL


  10. Usha Says:

    JLT: Yes of course they feel it is a sure way of starting a conversation and in the eyes of loved ones you are always too hard working, too exhausted and too anaemic.
    And the prev generation ( my mom's) who grew seeing Savitris on the screen thought "pleasantl;y plump" was healthy!