haha this guy is hilarious...and apparently some type of bollywood star!
Rahul Khanna - August 16, 2005
We’re all obsessed with weight. The west is obsessed with losing it. On the subcontinent, we’re obsessed with commenting on it. It’s a national pastime.
As someone who has his feet planted in both the US and India, it’s always hilarious to encounter these cultural differences.
In America, acquaintances and often even total strangers will happily initiate discussion about the most intimate details of their life (an elderly neighbour of mine in New York got on the elevator with me one morning and described, in vivid detail, internal exercises her doctor had prescribed to combat incontinence (you get the picture) -- all the way down 28 floors!). But I’m certain if I’d commented on her weight, she’d have been shocked at my impertinence.
In India, it’s the exact opposite. Etiquette dictates you comment on a person’s weight, if not immediately, then definitely within 5 minutes of meeting them. The standard greeting is, “Hello. You’ve (put on/ lost) weight?” It’s more of an implication in the form of a question than an outright statement. Very often the “hello” is skipped in the rush to get out the weight verdict.
I was once having dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in a few months and soon into the evening I noticed she seemed anxious. Eventually, she blurted out irately, “What’s wrong with you? It’s been half and hour and you haven’t told me I’ve lost or put on weight!” I think people see it as a measure of how much you care for them. That you’re concerned enough to have remembered how they looked when you last saw them and have noticed how things have changed since then.
Whenever I need a chuckle, I think back to the day a co-star of mine, a particularly gorgeous and glamourous actress (who’d perhaps, been unconditioned to this phenomenon, because of her many years abroad) walked onto the set and was greeted effusively by the producer of the film who loudly asked her, in front of the entire cast and crew, whether she’d gained some weight. The actress visibly paled and the producer, oblivious to her mortification, added insult to injury, by enthusiastically proclaiming it was her cheeks that looked “chubby”. Only in India would he get away with it.
Who needs weighing scales in India when all you need to do is step into a social situation. The other day, when my personal trainer wanted to put me on the scales, I suggested that since I was going to a reception that evening, I’d get a far more accurate reading there.
At social gatherings, before you’ve even crossed the room, several people will tell you you’ve lost weight and several others will say you’ve gained some. I tally up the “put ons” and the “losts” and depending on which is more, I decide whether to hit or skip the dessert table.
Punjabis (I’m half one) have their own unique weight dialect. If your relatives tell you you look “healthy”, they’re calling you chunky. And if you look “weak”, it means you’ve become too skinny to plow a field. To me, the most unique is, “You’ve really reduced.” It always makes me feel like a sauce.
And then, there’s that one friend who, every single time we meet, tells me I’ve lost weight. According to his estimation, I’m surprised I haven’t disappeared completely by now.http://www.intentblog.com/archives/2005/08/weighty_issues.html