Climbing stairs
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My wife looked up from the newspaper and said, ”You look like something the cat dragged in; out of shape and sloppy.”

I slowly looked up surprised, my neck bones creaking from looking down at my smartphone all the time, pulled my tummy in, and snapped back: “Why the sudden interest in my fitness? I have advised you not to read newspapers or watch TV news channels.”

Now that she mentioned it, I started reminiscing about our cat, who when not sleeping the whole day on my favourite sofa chair, or scratching up my ergonomic fake leather office chair, would sometimes bring food offerings for us for being good humans who pandered to its every demand, drop it in front of us and amble away.

Sometimes, it would be a dead bird that it had stalked and killed to preserve its killer instincts, or at times it would be a unwary tiny mouse caught out in the open in the grass.

“I don’t look like anything like that,” I protested. “Look, after years and years of eating the food cooked by our maid made with fresh ghee (clarified butter, that experts cannot agree upon whether it kills by clogging up your arteries or cures you of various ailments) and tons of spices, my waist size is still 32 inches … 33 inches, OK, OK, 34 inches,” I said.

“This is still better than most Indian men who have an average waist size of 40 inches, even after eating healthy vegetarian food all their lives.” I said.

“Doctors say 40 inches waist is a killer for men and 35 inches of visceral fat for women is unhealthy. You can calculate to see if you are healthy by dividing your height by your weight (in kilos) and multiplying it, or something like that,” I said.

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“Remember the time when we drove to the neighbouring state to see the famous Lepakshi Temple and the guide had pointed to a gorgeous looking sculpture and told us this was how an “ideal woman” was supposed to look like in the ancient times.

The sculpture had a long nose, long fingers, a wide forehead and a tiny waist like a ballerina. “Now women get a nose job by a plastic surgeon for smaller noses and liposuction done at their waists,” I said.

“Yes, yes, stop blathering. Modiji (my wife was born in Madras, now Chennai, in South India, but lived her whole life in Delhi in the North, but never uses the honorific ‘ji’ after my name), has launched a new movement called, ‘Fit India Movement’,” she said.

No elevators to success 

“He has launched it on National Sports Day, saying that lifestyle diseases and disorders are on the rise.” The prime minister has called for making small changes such as doing yoga, and exercise,” she said. “There is no elevator to success; you have to take the stairs. And to take the stairs, you have to be fit, he says,” said my wife.

“I took the stairs the other day when the power was cut off and our community generator did not work,” I said. “I worked up a good sweat. There was a gaggle of women on the third floor sitting on beach chairs and enjoying themselves. Apparently, they could not go down to the park.”

“Modiji is more fit than (Donald) Trump. Trump eats junk food such as hamburgers and drinks sugary soda drinks. A leader should inspire his people,” I said. Modiji must be worried he will have to govern an obese nation.

“I am now going to watch a video of (movie star) Shilpa Shetty do Yoga in Dubai, to inspire me,” I told my wife.

— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi