Published in www.yentha.com on January 11, 2011, ‘GM diet vs Chilli chicken’ was popular among the dedicated followers of freekick. The writer narrates his desperate attempts to deflate his ever-growing tummy with outlandish diet programs. On one end was the famous GM diet. On the other was the smell of chilli chicken wafting out from his favourite restaurant, Open House. Caught in between was Manu Remakant on diet.
Shortly will I get back to this ‘potato exchange’.
Before that let me ask you my friends: How many of you are suffering from swell bellies? How many of you hold that laddu in limbo between your lip and the plate for hours pondering about the possibility of boring yet another hole in your belt which has already reached the end of its tether?
We are one party.
I once thought a paunch was the coolest male organ to flaunt about. My father carried it around with élan. My uncles too. I saw many advantages.
1) You can rest your arms after a long airwalk (waving hands rhythmically as you walk) on it.
2) Children find you a cozy place to rest. I remember how horrible it was when my brother carried me around in his hands. Was almost like swimming. Without a belly to support my bottom I had to frantically beat my hands and feet all the time, to survive at the top, without drowning.
4) You can use your potbelly like a JCB or the proverbial bull in a china shop, pushing your way through a crowd. Disown it the very moment it mows a person down. Throw a flame of a look at your belly along with the crowd as if you are seeing that stupid thing for the first time. “Oru maryada vende!!!” you can also shout at the poor thing (suddenly orphaned by its owner in the middle of a crisis).
5) You can cover your crucial parts while sitting. Scientists say even gamma rays refuse to go beyond the event horizon. No worries even if you’ve forgotten to pull the zipper back after a pee. One of the many folds in your belly will act as the zipper.
6) This, I suspect is the reason why my editor cultivates his potbelly. Girls find the stuff cute and touch it when you have a bulge at your abdomen. “Ithenthoru vayara Sabine..” I have seen so many girls, touching, caressing and punching his damn belly to make me green-eyed. I too have it, but not so full blown as to get the cutometre on. No girl would touch and say, “Ithentha? You don’t have any belly!”
7) You can tuck in all the unpleasant things that come your way (bills, vegetable soup, medicines, textbooks, e-mail reminders from the CEO, wives etc.) under the penumbra of a belly and later claim that you haven’t seen it.
With all such benefits why can’t people grow bellies like, say, gardens? I wondered. People walk, dance, jump, fall, roll, talk, gossip to shed weight.
I learned it the hard way. When a paunch bloomed under my diaphragm I was first happy. At least my mundu will stay in one place (vecha mundu vechidathu kanum). I pampered it with feasts and beef fries, ice cream and puffs, shawarma and more shawarma.
One day to my horror I saw my lower body set behind my belly. Along with it, many crucial organs also disappeared. Seemed like sun-set. Except that my libido was not going to rise the following morning.
I realized a potbelly was not the best thing in the world. I had to rearrange my borders regularly with each meal. The distance from my bedroom to bathroom doubled for my lazy legs. The study room became another planet. I lumbered around the house gasping for breath. Shirt size doubled, pants quadrupled. Certain other dress materials looked more like Chinese fishing nets I see at Kochi.
But God was just. Some of my friends had bigger tummies. The pants they wore hung in limbo precariously in the lower part of their hips, so that they commanded all the nervous attention from the people who were with them. They could be talking about the chances of Government staying in place tiding over the crisis. But the listeners had only one question in their mind: would their trousers stay in place?
Alarmed, I started reading magazines. ‘How to cut fat by eating more and doing nothing’ was the article I was searching. They wanted me to drop ice cream, chicken, beef, mutton, pudding, bakery items, fast food, fried, gravied, semi-gravied items etc. What remained were charcoal, paper and floppy discs. And also all the shrubs, plants and trees.
I threw the books away.
“What about General Motors diet, Manu chetta? It works, read this,” my wife gave me another magazine. Just 7 days of dieting will trim you to Salman Khan! “Good, I think this will work. We are going to begin this from tomorrow,” I announced enthusiastically to my wife. She also joined my party.
We ate voraciously the previous night. All animals and birds which have ever been domesticated by man got envious posts at our dining table. Then I called all my friends and said goodbye for a week.
Next morning I woke up to a colourful breakfast. Good, no problem. We laughed, played and cracked jokes as we picked through the assemblage of fruits. “Acha, what will you be like after 7 days?” Ammu asked. “Oh, little bit of changes, mole. I won’t be having this paunch. And this double chin, this flab of fat. Not much,” I tried to be humble and rushed to my room to take my photographs from all angles to keep a record.
Second day I woke up to vegetables. By now the whole ambience in our house had changed. My patience had already run out in extreme hunger. Ammu and her cat moved stealthly across the room as I ate. She knew a little irritant could make her father blow his top. Even the loud-mouthed fisherwoman only gestured to my mother to tell her which fish she had brought that day.
On the third day I woke up to a potato. The conversation at the beginning of this article was an exchange between my wife and me.
Evening. We went out to buy more potatoes. The smell of chicken wafted from Open House restaurant. I looked at my wife and smiled weakly:
“I think it is chilli chicken.”
“Yes, Manu chetta, it is chilli chicken,” she too smiled weekly.
“What’s for supper”?
She nodded. Minutes passed by.
“Do you think General Motors diet is good for our people? Our climate?” I asked looking away.
After some silence, my wife replied, “I think, it is for the Englishmen.”
“And they say it is found to be effective only for a few people, alle?”
“Yes Manu chetta, I too read it. And such crash diets could be dangerous for health.”
“Yes,” I said. “Yes,” she said.
Moments of pregnant silence.
Then I turned my head and caught her eyes. She was also looking apprehensively at mine. My eyelids did not bat. My lips trembled. My hands shivered. Beads of sweat gathered and trickled down from my forehead as I asked the sweetest thing a husband had ever asked his wife during General Motors diet: “Chilli chicken?”
My mouth watered as I asked, almost drenching the second word into a glug glug noise.
“Yes Manu chettah, let us have it.” She sighed, smiled and stretched her hands for my purse.
And we lived happily ever after.