Relatively speaking

Blog posts may be infrequent in the near future. I am in India now, and as with all India visits, the schedule tends to get filled up. Over the next few weeks, I will meet quite a few aunts and uncles, and wonder what they are actually thinking about my appearance.

You see, when I was much younger, they were very open about how I looked. “My, you’ve grown four inches taller since I last saw you”, they’d say. I would beam with pride and think that I must actually be growing then, even if it looked like I would never make it to being four feet tall.

Obviously, the focus was all on my height then. Now that my height has not changed for many, many years now, it would be quite safe to assume that I have, umm, reached my full potential. So obviously, the focus has shifted to other dimensions – specifically, my width.

But there is only so much my relatives can tell me about my width. “My, you’ve expanded by four inches since I saw you last” is not something they can say. We humans tend to be rather touchy about our width. But I know that’s what they are thinking. Secretly, I would very much like to know, though, what that number is. Is it two inches, or three? Or is it more like five??

This is perhaps a good reason to visit relatives much more frequently. All measurements by relatives are, you see, relative. Since they always measure only from the last visit, and not from, say, 1982, the more often you see them, the less the incremental change in width. I mean, you can never expand four inches in three months, can you? Or can you?

Anyway, I can predict with great accuracy what my relatives will tell me about my appearance. They will tell me how my face has become five shades fairer. I will refrain from pointing out that they can’t really see any skin on my face, so perhaps they mean the fly repellant cream. Or my face powder that seems to cake up faster than any actual cakes.

Meanwhile, they will measure me mentally and note the magic number in their minds. The magic number that I will never get to know…

I can’t bear the suspense. It is giving me sleepless nights. It must be. Or why else would I writing blog posts about relatives at 4 am?

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18 thoughts on “Relatively speaking

  1. After reading this, I have to tell you about the last time I visited India. I went to my old workplace and was meeting ex-colleagues who were very polite while commenting on my weight gain. But when one particular elderly gentleman recognised me and I expressed surprise that he did (since he’d not seen me for about 5 years, he said “You look the same from the neck up, why wouldn’t I recognise you!”

  2. The horror of width assessment. Far worse, when they prod you and ask if the increased width is because of some “good news”. Ugh! 🙂

  3. I’ve always managed to get the “You have not changed at all” from my relatives, until last year, when the universal comment was “Ah, you’ve put on weight”. Horrors of horrors- it was time to bite the bullet and join the nearest gym to get back into shape after all these years of snack-as-you-please.
    Next time, just my luck, they won’t notice the hard-earned toned muscles and will be too busy oohing and aahing over my eldest having shot up to 6 ft.

  4. Kamini: Oh yes, “healthy” 🙂 I have heard that a lot too. I always wonder, if you have put on a lot of weight, does that make you really healthy? 😉

    BPSK: They were just pulling your leg 😛

    rajk: Ouch. Only an elderly gentleman can get away with that one!

    neha: Oh yes, I am dreading that one 🙂

    Sujatha: They might wonder why you have grown so thin suddenly 😉 You don’t look “healthy” these days? 😛

    km: Perhaps there is also a part of me in the 4th dimension- space-time? Or how about this – Lekhni’s Uncertainty principle – my width changes when relatives see me, so they can never accurately measure my width 🙂

  5. Yeah, life was a lot better in the matrix where your physical self is just a mental projection of yourself – a place where you can have long wavy Johnny Depp hair with the early to mid 70’s Amitabh Bachhan lankiness. Sigh!

  6. dipali: I excel in the art of mini Bharat darshans as I try to meet all relatives 😉 But I am not coming East, Dipali 😦 Would have loved to meet you..

    I will certainly do the tag, but it might be after I return.. 🙂

    A Cynic in Wonderland: That might just open up a new line of attack 😛

    ArSENik: The question is, are one’s mental projections susceptible to outside influence? If enough people tell you that you actually look like Amitabh Bacchan with fifty pounds added, does your mental image start to change? 😉

    Srivalli: Oh yes, there is that risk as well…do you think people would tell themselves “She needs to be on a diet, if she is not on one already. So I will just give her some soup and salad”. Not a chance! They will feed you a few tons of the choicest gulab jamun and rasmalai and all kinds of fatty and outrageously delicious stuff 😦

  7. so far i’m pretty lucky in that I haven’t changed at all in 10 years. The only signs are genetic ones that are beyond my control. The last visit to my grandparents house, my grandmother hugged me and said, “woops, seems like you have a few more gray hairs.” oh dear o’ dear. well… I suppose we can just be glad we are not women. No sexism intended.. but as far as appearance goes, women take it much more to heart and with guys… it’s almost expected to become “a little wider.” Next time a relative points at your gut… look right back at his. 🙂 Great post.. even if it was 4 am. Another good blog would be, “Why do we feel we have to read blog and write blogs soo late at night?”

  8. Michael Joyce: I agree that women are more sensitive to comments about their appearance. I guess that’s also because people read so much more into women’s appearances 😦 Yes, why do we feel this need to blog at 4 am, or late in the night? I don’t have an answer to that one..

    anita: Yes, families think your optimum weight is always a little more than whatever you are currently 😉

    ArSENik: Locus of control – looong time since I heard that term. But most people seem susceptible to external influence over their weight/appearance – the very thin, the obese and the ones who go to the gym because they want others to think they look good.

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