Being raised a vegetarian, life’s traumas are aplenty. Especially, if you’re trying live to in a country, where being vegetarian or vegan (both are different species by the way) is a niche. It’s like living in a Salman Khan movie where he doesn’t take his shirt off. Or Mallika Sherawat. It’s almost a rare occurrence to find a vegetarian only restaurant or even one that has more than one non-meat delicacy on its menu, unless you live in a neighborhood teeming with hipsters with their cliched attires and attitudes. Ordering low fat with 33% by volume skimmed 2% milk only coffee latte. The coffee beans have to be freshly roasted in the heat that is generated in your leather pants on a normal Phoenix, AZ summer afternoon. Apologies for that diatribe against hipsters but it’s hard not to like them.. Maybe it’s just me. YOLO. *carefully finds the nerve on self’s wrist for quick impact*
Hailing from a country where, apparently, two aspects rule the roost when it comes to being considered good looking. The first being skin color. With an immense amount of self control, I shall sidestep that minefield temporarily. The second being, of course, physical appearance. Granted when I was in graduate school in Missouri, between juggling 3 jobs, courses that would make one cry tears of acid, and projects that are best left undescribed , food ranked low on the priority along with sleep. Being a lethargic asshole, I would much rather have sleep than food. But being denied food, my stomach protested by making sounds that can only be described as a Himesh Reshammiya orgasm. Without the shitty hat obviously. When the stomach wants, the stomach wants. So I complied. In a state where steaks are served in a buffet, my gluttony ensued in the ravenous, dark confines of my lab. Gormandizing on my 1/2 lb Cheese burrito with beans instead of beef, smuggled under my shirt from Taco Bell. Yes, eating at Taco Bell was considered a step down from eating at a restaurant. Peers said the consequences would be dire. I failed to see their point. The burrito was delicious.
A few months on, the dire consequences started to show. Specifically, on the hips, stomach, ass. And of course bowel movements. The Fire sauce had worked it’s magic. Cue a trip back home to India, where the first question upon arrival was, “How was the flight?” And the second one being, “Did you eat the entire country’s supply of food?” It was a common trend that I encountered all throughout my annual plastic smile visits to “well-wishers” who keep taunting the fact that I genuinely represented the “Pizza and Burger eating” culture that the United States was renowned for. It was hard enough keeping track of the taunts, so I refrained from explaining how tacos and burritos were made. The concept of “putting on” is still alien to me. I understand people care about my deteriorating image, and the fact that I needed 2 cameras to take a photograph or the person had to be standing atop a hill so I could fit in the frame, but I do realize the fact that bending down is now actually a chore. Steps were being taken.
California had given a lot more options. “The Land of Hipsters and Hollywood”, as it’s affectionately called, had a lot more culinary options for me to gobble upon. The healthy lifestyle can wait. I got new money flowing in courtesy my job. Years of living like a student on Maggi (Ramen) and Burritos had run its course. Now it was time for real food. Extra cheese? Why the fuck not?! Picture this. An extremely obese guy is watching a porno. He is finished when the pizza guy delivers the pizza in the movie. Or like the first 5 minutes of any Sunny Leone or Uday Chopra movie. The enthusiasm to fatten myself lasted about that long. I was soon turning into THAT fat guy. Seeing all those beautiful people on the beaches inspired me no end. This fat and this disgusting lifestyle had to go.
This took me to the wonderful world of the internet where opinions were like assholes. Every single asshole had one. I started typing “how to” and google spontaneously detected my immense self loathing and possibly heard the creaking of the chair I was sitting on. It prompted, “How to lose weight, you fat loser”. Google always knows best. Diet plans were aplenty. Atkins, Dukan, South Beach, Stillman to name a very select famous few. None of these had what I wanted. I wanted the ability to eat whatever the heck I wanted and also lose weight. “Does eating count as exercise?”, was my next question to Google. It said, “If you want to die by 30, and have that written as an epitaph to you, then yes. Eating is an exercise.” Point well and truly made. I had to move my fat carcass off the couch that was reserved for video games and take it to the nearest gym.
Then came the move to Virginia. This is a state that can only be described best on a psychiatrist’s couch with dolls. At least the part that I was moving to. To celebrate a friend’s birthday, we asked him where he wanted to eat. He suggested a steak house. Not just any steak house, a steak house where you could choose the steak you wanted. Some of these steaks were as big and red as something that would feature in a M. Night Shyamalan movie or the latest Saw remake. When all my friends were busy choosing their steaks of choice, I was busy fiddling around with the free groundnuts that they had offered us. Then we sat down, and the server came by to ask us what we wanted as our sides. Cue my standard response, “Do you have anything that does not have meat in it?” I can see the rolling of her eyes and instant judgement on her part, while she was thinking, “Do these people not read English? Why would you come to a steak house and ask for vegetarian food?” But her mouth, thankfully tried to look for options. A salad maybe? No that has bacon bits. How about some fries? No, that’s fried in cow lard. Do you consider fish to be meat? All I had was a beer and fried onions. Make that 3 beers.
I was fortunate to learn how to feed myself by cooking food that resembled something like a potato that tried to commit suicide in a shallow pan with a side of onions and garlic. Yet, the taste was divine. I had come to tell myself that I was an excellent cook. Delusion was my only escape from the nightmarish culinary experience so far in Virginia. So hear one, hear all. All I have to say is eat all you want, when you want. Yet, ensure that bending is not really a chore.
My motto is “People eat to live, I live to eat”. 165 lbs and counting. (Completely made up number)