Run for your life. Or why I am better than Aamir Khan.

Ideally once you decide to lose weight, learn a new skill and stop pronouncing Warner brothers without the quintessential Mallu accent with its emphasis on Waa instead of Whoa ( as my wife constantly reminds me whenever we go to see a movie ) the Universe should conspire to make it happen. However in my case the Universe has other plans. Namely, do the opposite of whatever shit the domesticated kid plans. I hadn’t learned any significant new skills for the past 3 years, despite whatever creative half-truths I jot down under ‘Personal Development’ section every year during my appraisals at work. When startled, I still refer to WB as ‘Waarner Bretherz’. I have documented my ongoing battle with weight elsewhere on this blog. On the BMI scale, I’m the outlier that always makes it hard for the doctors to clearly define the boundary between normal weight and overweight. For years bitter debates have raged in medical circles in Nagpur and Singapore on whether I’m slightly above normal or slightly below overweight. I’ve constantly lived on the edge.

And then came the news on the telly that Aamir Khan had piled on pounds of flesh to balloon upto 95 kg for the upcoming movie Dangal. He has difficulty breathing now, which I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND. But here comes the rub. The old wily actor fellow is going to lose it all for the same movie. Is he crazy or what? Doesn’t he realise that you can simultaneously act as an 80 year old paunched father and a 35 year old paunched superhero in the same movie? At the same time? Didn’t Mohanlal teach you anything? For shame.

Heavyweight actor
Bloody fellow 

Now, we need to call a spade a spade and a porotta a porotta. This is just Aamir Khan showing off he can gain and lose weight at will. The bastard. I, on the other hand, have the first part down pat. The second always trips me up. And not for lack of trying. Quite recently, some genius at my office decided it would be a great idea to issue us all with Fitbits, divide us into teams and pitch us against one another to see which team could burn the most calories, in a bizarre corporate version of biggest loser. A colleague from IIM Ahmedabad proposed my name for his group, quite possibly to derive sadistic pleasure from reading the next day’s Guardian by-line on page 3

“IIM Bangalore alumni collapses tragically on pavement during training run. Subsequently run over by 10 IIM Ahmedabad London Alumni runners”

The horror. 

[Domesticated Kid’s side note: Now listen to me very carefully. The first step in any fitness program is to consult an expert, to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. Go do it now.

Done? Are you now equipped with all the latest information on forecasted income statement, cash flow analysis and Price/Earnings ratio? Excellent. That’s because you consulted a chartered accountant by mistake. Do it again, correctly this time please] 

But I pulled together whatever reserves of courage I possessed and decided to go through with the ordeal. A masochistic streak runs through the Thayyil Nair family. My father had decided, after retirement, that he would grow vanilla for money. My mother recently decided she would switch her allegiance from Mammootty to Dulquer. 

I signed up.

I went to a total fitness program at a nearby gym where an impossibly fit lady told me I needed to buy customised jogging shoes, branded t shirts, protein powder, wrist GPS and a heart rate monitor watch. I asked her if all the new-fangled tech would help me win the competition. ‘No, she said’. ‘But I would get a commission on all your purchases.’ She seemed honestly convinced that I was what is commonly referred to in the fitness industry as an easy mark .But I burst her bubble and told her I was wise to all her wily ways. Upon which she broke down and admitted that she was in it purely for the money. Just like Aamir Khan. That’s when inspiration struck me. For half the price of the gear, she taught me how to hack the Fitbit so I could manipulate the count without having to pull a hamstring or curl up on the pavement.

I aced the contest at work and happily bought porottas with the prize money I earned. The only difference between me and Aamir Khan now is that while we both did it for the money, he had to eat broccoli and drink water instead of porottas and coke. To top it all, I learnt a new skill into the bargain – how to hack fitbit trackers. Now if only I can pronounce Warner Brothers correctly. 

What Sons???

九龍城 Category:Fuk Lo Tsuen Road 福佬村道 Category:S...
Image via Wikipedia

Consumer rights have never been on my list of things to fight for. In order, they are

  1. Recognition of sambhar vada as the National snack
  2. Universal education
  3. Oscar for Mohanlal

However, a very curious incident which happened to me today in a Watsons store has forced me to question my priorities. Here’s the background.

I had gone in to buy a set of Watsons 5 blade razor cartridges. While there, I saw a sign on the display which read “BUY ANY 2, GET 1 FREE”. It also said, “MIX AND MATCH – ACROSS ANY ITEMS WITH THIS TAG”.  The fine print went on to add that the free item would be the item of the lowest value. While I was considering the implications of this, I became aware of a faint disagreeable odour from my shoes (I wear them for over ten hours a day. Cut me some slack.) I realized I needed to get something to remove the odour.  Foot odour is the only smell guys can’t explain away as “that strong musky, manly smell”.

Long story short, I decided to buy a Watsons FootEase Odour Stop. They are insoles ingrained with activated charcoal, which promises to remove foot odour. They too had the same tag on the display, which promised to mix and match the products to get a free one. I decided to buy two sets of cartridges, and take the FootEase free.

However, the cashier and the store manager had other ideas. Their smiles jaded a bit when I mentioned the tag concept. They politely informed me that this offer was not valid, for a multitude of reasons, although none came to their mind at that moment. The Indian in me was confused. I had taken a lot of trouble to read the tag, even more trouble to actually think about it and then still more trouble to find some combination of product that would work, only to be beaten at the post. I asked the manager if I could snap some pictures of the offer tag to take up the issue with the Watsons management. She became concerned and contacted her superiors. While she went into some deep strategy discussion with the person on the phone, I snapped a few pictures on my iPhone4 (yeah, I have an iPhone 4, total stud only, no?)

At the end of a five-minute long discussion, the manager came back to me and explained apologetically that the offer was valid only for items with the same price. I countered by arguing that if so, then they shouldn’t have mentioned “Free item will be item of the lowest value” in the fine print. She then changed tactics and took up a new position. Even though the items may be of different price, she explained, they have to be in the same display section. Now, I considered this a very weak argument, but realized the futility of fighting anymore.  The Indian inside me swore at least a blog post in revenge, while the marketing manager in me decided to settle for a strongly worded letter of complaint to Watsons senior management. At last, in true Indian style, I compromised. I have decided to do both.

I shall keep you informed of the progress of my complaint.

Meanwhile, what is your opinion of sambhar vada?

More tags from where the FootEase Odour Stop was kept

PS: This post is based on my personal observations and personal opinions and is in no way connected to or endorsed by any company, organization or institute I may represent.