Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why most Iyers are ‘not-slim’?

An Iyer by birth and traditions being followed at home, I have met more than enough Iyers to confirm my belief that 75-80% of us are “horizontally-challenged”, or should I just say ‘fat’ without using the politically correct phrase. It wasn’t very difficult to find the pretty evident reason for Iyer-flab. Its not only the special gene which hides in an Indian's body and stores the fat as it comes in but it also is the Iyer's appetite combined with traditions(aka 'reasons to eat' in Iyer lingo!).

Iyers, as a community, believe in ‘pehle pate pooja, fir kaam dooja’. Every occasion: diwali/dussehra or pongal; avani-avatam/skandashshti or krishna jayanti; karthikai or any other day has a specific food item, most of them fried or sweet but all fatty. And if you are thinking, its just on ocaasions, try counting the number of ocaasions/festivals and I am sure the number will be comparable to the number of cricket matches India has lost.

'The Iyer food guide' or 'Eat - The Iyer Way', if written will be the books Iyers will never bother reading because eating is a trait which passes on from parent to child as effortlessly as Rajnikanth catches his cigarrete with his mouth. A minimum of three courses with a 'payasam' (the dessert) round in between the second and third course is the most common sight in lavish food arrangements in any proper joint family, Iyer household and with mamis ever-ready to cook. First course begins with rice with generous helping of ghee, and small amount of dal with Sambaar in tow. Second course is rice and rasam, with chips or papadaam. All this is served with a minimum of four torans/poriyals/kootaans (aka curries). A 'payasam' round (short & sweet) before the third course. Finally, the main course consisting of the famous 'taeer-saadam' (curd rice for the uninitiated).

Christians have the time of Lent, when they give up something for God..meat, alcohol or the likes. Muslims fast during Ramzan. And Ramzan is a whole month. Most North Indian Hindus fast atleast one day a week: for Lord Shiva on Monday, Hanuman on Tuesday, Ganapati on Wednesday, Shirdi Sai on thursday, Santoshi Mata on Friday or Shani bhagwan on saturday. At least they rest on a Sunday(or there might be some fasting for Sun God). 'Iyers and fasting' can never be written in the same sentence (Did I just attempt the impossible??). Even on the amavasya nights, when we think we are fasting, its okay to have 'palahaaram' i.e stuff like dosas, idlis, upma et al.

Anyways, I am not going to change any of that and continue eating food, the iyer-way. And I bet many Iyers will agree. If Popeye was an Iyer, his song would start with something like ...

'I am what I am,
I eat, what I can!
I am Popeye the Iyer man!!'

I cannot agree more when they say, "If you can't fit in the jeans, blame it on the genes" !!