17 August 2008

Portion Sizes & People Sizes

In my previous post, I didn't cover all of my Indian festivities. The other thing I did (aside from work) was go to the bank (which shockingly wasn't closed/out-of-order/suffering from some other problem). On my way back I passed Baskin Robbins and decided to get myself a vanilla milkshake. The store's ceiling was completely covered with balloons - it was quite a sight - and the store itself was the hottest ice-cream store I've ever been in (hotter even than Carvel in NY during the power outage of '05). I bought my favorite since I was a kid, a vanilla milk shake. It cost 79 Rupees ($1.83) - expensive by standards around here, but quite affordable to me. The shocker was the size. It was tiny. (seemed about 12 ounces) Now I knew how bloated American portion sizes have become (just pop into a 7-11 and look at the size of the smallest slurpee container), but getting this teensy weensy milkshake brought it home in a viceral way. Any you know, it was just the right amount. I really enjoyed just that much, more would have been fine, but my thirst was slacked and my ice-cream hankering was as well. More would have just been more, not better (and possibly less healthy). I think I'm going to try to keep that in mind - I'd alrady jumped on the bandwagon of "better food, more moderately consumed", but this was a great experiencal reminder.

Now this is good for a wealthy foreigner like me, but the flip side is that food, albeit incredibly cheap by our standards, can be quite expensive for regular folks here. Bangalore is one of the wealthiest, most modern cities in India. Most of the people here are, in fact, doing alright by local standards. But while we eat too much, they don't get enough, or perhaps if they get enough, relatively few get more than they need. I'm a really skinny guy, but I look really solid compared to the autorickshaw drivers who drive me around (also compared to most of the MSR drivers). Now these are full grown adults and probably can afford to eat as much as they need (at least the MSR employed folks), but I think if you've not had quite enough as a kid, maybe you're body loses some of the capability to store fat? This is baseless conjecturing on my part. But what I do know is that the kids in the playground and on the street are thin. Not emaciated, not malnourished, but really thin. And it seems to me they don't grow quite as large because of it. People around here really aren't in great shape:
part of that's b/c there isn't a fitness culture or nearly as much general health awarness - when I took a jog yesterday, there was no were to run but the street with cars whizzing by and bleching smoke out of their converted-lawnmower engines. There aren't any parks or tracks, not much green space at all. No pollution controls - the air is visible. And people don't even know what you are doing - you get these confused looks from pedestrains (why the heck would anyone who could afford to take a cab ever lift their feet?) and from drivers as well (one autorickshaw chased me for the better part of two blocks, over an overpass until I finally convinced him that I wasn't interested). Perhaps pushing yourself physically is considered menial? I don't know, but I did pass at least one Indian cyclist while jogging at maybe 55% of maximum speed.

Part perhaps is b/c people are too busy working.
But some is definitely b/c they aren't getting overmuch food. And on the flip-side, to compensate the food people eat when they can is super oily, rich, and suggary. Consequently, if you get more than just enough of it, it will make you sluggish, ill, fat, or just plain sick after a while (at least if you are a westerner like me - since Linda left, I've really taken to cooking at home)

So that's another taste of my life in Bangalore.

No comments:

Post a Comment