The TV diet

Rujuta Diwekar, “I don’t own a TV set but this “Bade ache lagte hain” phenomenon intrigued me. I watched it on my laptop and the episode showed the lead actor, Ram, eating just an apple for lunch since he is on a “diet”. In fact his attempt to lose weight and subsequent (crash?) diet was the running theme during that week. This serial, like so many others, apparently is about the middle class bahu, her values and the soothing and reassuring effect she has on her high profile, rich businessman of a husband and her winning streak over the conniving mother in law.

Priya, who is supposed to be a sarva guna sampana bahu, upholding traditional values (bado ka aadar, choto ko pyar, duniya bhar ka uddhar) checks with the bansi kaka if the husband is being sent “coriander – spinach juice, cut fruits, sprouts and salad”. Come on Priya, you are a school teacher, right? Didn’t you learn that fruits and vegetables lose their nutritional value when their surface area increases (like when they are squeezed into a juice) and in the absence of carbs, proteins and fats (wholesome diet), a human being cannot function? Much less do any business.

She even made her husband trade his stuffy, suffocating suit for a cooler cotton blue shirt, ‘more appropriate for our climate’ is the explanation. Doesn’t this ‘appropriate for our climate logic’ apply to food too? Or are we only middle class on the surface, scratch it a bit and we are all juice drinking, salad munching, wannabe memsahibs? What happened to the traditional, time tested roti sabzi, dal chawal, kadhi, lassi, dahi, nimbu pani, etc as food or tiffin items? Why all of us who otherwise pat our backs for our sabhyata and sanskriti turn our backs on the food that’s an integral part of our sabhyata and sanskriti?

So, as “good girls”, we look after ghar grahisti, husband, mil, fil, kids, washing, cleaning, cooking, etc, but how much of it is a well thought out and understood action? Are we constantly aspiring for approval? And if the current trend or norm is to cut calories, then we just comply? Or are we truly rooted in our culture where we value and celebrate our cooking legacy and the wisdom handed over orally from generation to generation about food. Priya (I don’t mean Sakshi Talwar, I mean all of us middle class housewives bearing the brunt of our husbands’ over spilling waists and deteriorating health), the same sabhyata that made your husband’s health your personal business (its not actually), also taught you to eat local, seasonal and fresh food. It also taught you to celebrate food, offer it to your body as a blessing and not count calories.

So next time when your dadi gushes over the benefits of ghee, pay attention and listen. Or else you will be eating ‘clarified butter’ 10 years later, after it wins approval from the west and the ‘high society’ and you, my dear girl, will simply comply, once again.

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