<%-- Page Title--%> A Roman Column <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 140 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 30, 2004

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The Party Season Weight-loss Plan

Neeman A Sobhan

Hey! Please don't tell me about Dhaka's crazy party season. I arrived in Dhaka from Rome the day after Christmas with just enough time to change for a wedding, followed by a late night pre-New Year dinner-dance, and the pattern was set, so I know about it. And I've heard every complaint related to this period of juggling three weddings, two Holuds, an Aqeeqa and a wedding anniversary and a half. The one that grabs me is the one about gaining weight during this period. It baffles me. I heard the same thing about Ramadan!

Suffice it to say that when I return to Rome from Dhaka I will not be the most popular person in my social circuit there, because I am probably the only person I know who can say after a trip to one’s hometown during its party-wedding epidemic that I have actually LOST weight. Don't you just hate me? But now to convert all that negative energy you are expending hating me into positive feelings, let me reveal how I did it. Warning: some are subversive, guerrilla tactics, meant only for the committed weight watcher and can result not only in weight loss but also loss of friends.

1/ The basic thing is about attitude. Remember "Food glorious food" sung by Oliver Twist? Well, although these wintry days, the clammy, smog-ridden ambience of Dhaka might remind us of Dickens' London, we don't have to concur with his character. "Body glorious body" is the anthem when approaching a food-laden table or when the Biryani, kheerer patishapta or lemon souffle is being dished out.

2/ To reinforce this attitude take a hard look at yourself in the full-length mirror BEFORE you start dressing for any event. Gaze at a picture of your favourite female form, perhaps Aishwariya or Catherine-Zeta Zones, or you as you were once upon a time. The same formula and even the same posters of the glamour gals apply to the lads as well, since gazing at the beauties might inspire the men to remodel themselves to be (remotely) attractive to the lovelies.

3/ NEVER actually eat at parties and weddings. Remember, going out to a dinner or a wedding is not about eating, but about looking good! So, the cardinal rule here is to dissimulate, dissemble and deceive everyone like crazy, (including, sometimes, even yourself). Buffet dinners are the easiest to bluff through, where you can hoodwink the hostess by flirting with the salad and a piece of kabab in the far corner of the dining room away from her prying eyes, while loudly praising the rest of the food that you have either, not tasted or have poked at; at sit-down dinners and restaurants, talk, laugh, scintillate, generally keeping everyone distracted while you hide the mayonnaise-shrimp under the lettuce. If you are dining at fancy restaurants, and even if someone else is footing the bill, choose only the simplest grilled meats and fish, and eat only a small portion of it. Don't worry about waste now; believe me, at this point, starving children anywhere in the world will not benefit from your conscientious consumption! So, be politically incorrect: toy with your food, pretend to eat.

4/ To enable you to give this sterling public performance, never arrive on an empty stomach, rather, ALWAYS eat your everyday, health-diet conscious meal at home before going out to 'dine' or 'lunch'. When you can, opt for joining the party after dinner or lunch so you get the company and not the food. When subversive tactics simply wont do (in my case, this happens when I'm the guest of honour at friends or female relatives who cook like a dream and love you by feeding), starve beforehand, but never take seconds or eat to please. Food is not your enemy, eating outside is; tell yourself that you are allergic to outside food: you break out in a rash of fat!

5/ Do some form of exercise for even half an hour, EVERYDAY. Walking is the easiest and best exercise. STOP right there and don't give me any back talk about having no time to go to the park, about planning to join a health club or buying a treadmill. Walking is not about gyms, parks and machines, but about legs and a space in which to move them. If you are an apartment dweller you have a rooftop, use it. If not, just clear a path between your living room and dining room and circle it like crazy while timing yourself with a watch. Be obsessive about getting your quota of walking for the day. Do twenty minutes; do fifteen; do any bodily movement, but JUST DO IT.

Any time is good for exercise and can be carved out from the tightest schedule if we really want to. If/when you pray, at the end of the session, just roll back on the floor and do some stretches right there. At a party, get up and dance even if others do not. At home, just before your shower, take the portable player to the bathroom and for fifteen minutes 'It's the time to disco'! In apartments, at each landing, whenever you see those strangely vertical, jagged things beside the elevator, called 'stairs' I believe, well, take off your high heels and use them whenever you can. These exercise machines are free of charge! The only cost is that, initially, your receptionist or neighbour's maid will think you're the crazy lady on the fourth floor, but at least, no one will call you the fat lady.

Finally, don't waste that hour at the hairdresser. Instead, go across to the park or the health club, up to the rooftop or down on the bedroom floor, and get a workout; a lovely body lasts longer than the hair-do, and a ponytail is cuter than a fat-ass. Meet friends not for lunch, but at the park, so you can all catch up while doing your daily constitutional.

7/ Lastly and more seriously, I am appalled at the number of my friends and family members (mostly female) who have either gained weight or are suffering from a variety of ailments ranging from high blood pressure to bodily aches and pains. Many of them talk about resolving to 'go on a diet and exercise regime' when this party season will stop. Who are they kidding? The perfect time will never arrive. Eid is at our doorstep, which will be followed by another wedding or a visit from a long lost family member or friend, followed by the mango season, followed by something else. Life is a series of diet-subverting crises. The moment for losing weight (which, with age, rhymes more with health than beauty) is NOW. So, party yourself into health and beauty!

Okay, now that I have spilled all my calorie counted beans, my readers might love me but I think I've lost some of my credibility and all of my friends and won’t get invited to any more parties. Final injunction: do lose weight this party season, and then please shut up, unlike me. Now I'm all dressed up with nowhere to go to pretend to eat.




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