Tag: body size

India – Day Five & Six: Udaipur

Next, the City of Lakes, sometimes also called the White City (because of all the white marble palaces.)

I have always wanted to go to Udaipur for YEARS because there are many, MANY movies and miniseries which have been filmed here. I’m planning on making a list of my favorite films shot/about in India when I get home, but for now a few are Heat and Dust (1983), The Jewel in the Crown (1984), and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011.

Our guide, Rohit, lives in Udaipur so we had a special treat. He had been invited to a wedding on the first evening we arrived and arranged for us to attend with him. My first Indian wedding – so exciting!

And it turns out, as I mentioned previously, February is a very popular month to get married, and the 10th, the day we arrived, was an extremely auspicious date apparently (we think because it was a full moon) because we saw a LOT of wedding activity and at least two other weddings that we counted in addition to the one that we were attending.

As we drove into town we saw a horse being carted to one of the weddings.
This is the horse which a groom would be riding in on.

Then we had to stop for a bit on a bridge because there was a wedding party passing. I shot a video as best as I could. Fabulous!

I took a bunch of photos too but most of them were blurry because they were jumping up and down with the music. (Or was i the one moving up and down to the music?)

We arrived at our hotel when it was dark. Still, you could see how gorgeous it was. I took a ton of photos but I won’t post all of them. Even the key was a work of art.

My room, fit for a Queen!

This photo (the one right above) is the view out my WINDOW! If you look at the photo before that you can see the benches in front of the window – this is the view they look out onto. The only bad thing is that the windows were a bit low for me. If I had sat on that bench I would have needed a fork lift to get back up. And I am also a tallish person, so I had to hunch over a bit to look out. Still, at night I pulled the chair over from the desk and gazed out for a bit before drawing the curtains.

The only other thing that was not great about the room is that I had to go up three steps to get to the bathroom, and as usual there was no railing. Thankfully I didn’t have to make any middle of the night dash to the loo (I was worried I might break my neck!)

The wedding was S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R! It was everything you would expect. So colorful, lots of food. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming.

This dashing man is the Father of the Groom (or was it the Bride?) He was a friend of Rohit’s. There were separate seating areas for men and for women and they sat us at the edge of the men’s section (because we are westerners I was told, not sure if that was true or not.) Our host came over and saw that we didn’t have drinks and immediately made sure we had a choice of beer, water, soda, or Indian rum.

I’ve been trying to stick to water and masala chai on this trip since Indian food already has so many spices that are anti-inflammatory. For a person who is on blood thinners you want to make sure you don’t come over here and eat a bunch of Indian food AND drink a bunch of alcohol. Or, if you are going to do that, eat a lot of cooked spinach.

This was the Father of the Bride (I think.) I couldn’t hear very well, I was on the other side of the group. Plus, I was completely enamored by his moustache! Isn’t it wonderful?!?
I felt like everyone looked like they stepped right out of a movie.

We stayed later than originally planned. We had thought we would only stay an hour but stayed well over two. I think we left around 11:00? And the Bride & Groom hadn’t even arrived yet! Rohit stayed until right before midnight and I think either they had just arrived or they were just about to arrive. Those Indians really know how to party!

The next day I stayed at the hotel for a few hours in the morning with Regine (our American guide) while the rest of the group went to tour the Fort. There have been a few places along the way where I have stayed behind because Regine felt it would be too difficult for me either because it had tons of stairs or might be too cramped or narrow, that sort of thing. Since I am here for three-and-a-half weeks I certainly don’t want to overdo it, so I am okay with staying back.

This is the lock on my door. You already saw how big the key was in my hand earlier, so the should give you an idea of how substantial this lock is. Took me a few tries to get it to work.
Believe it or not, this is the window of my bathroom! Course, it’s not this beautiful on the inside. In fact, they have curtains over it so you can’t even really enjoy the stained class.
This was across from the hotel office. I don’t know where it went but I wanted to go up these stairs and snoop.
My view at breakfast. I am hooked on masala omelettes and masala chai.

Regine and I took a TukTuk to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch. We dined at the Royal Repast.

You don’t often see women driving scooters.

The Royal Repast is a lovely restaurant which has been by the Bedla family, in their ancestral home, for over 85 years. They have had the honor of serving many famous people there including Queen Elizabeth, Jacqueline Kennedy, the Shah of Iran, Indira Gandhi, and Jawarlal Nehru.

The Royal Repast
Lovely art on the walls

After lunch we took another TukTuk to the City Palace where we were able to take a boat tour of the lake. If I understood Rohit correctly, there used to be tours from all over – in fact our hotel had a dock, but now there are only two places (I think it was only two) where people are allowed to launch boats. It’s a bummer, because it would have been so convenient to go from our hotel, but I’m sure that it must have been madness to have boats going from everywhere.

One of the women went back to the hotel in one of the TukTuks so four of them piled into this one, just like real Indians!
Another guide from Travel Scope (our Indian tour company.)
I wish men in America wore Nehru collared vests.
You may recognize this, it has been in several movies/miniseries –
this is the Lake Palace Hotel.
Scaffolding on a building being renovated
This is a 150-year-old Gangaur Boat (Gangaur is a Rajasthani festival.) If you have ever seen the movie ‘Octopussy’ you may recognize it.
I took pictures of this from a distance but the close up is much more impressive. This is another architectural accomplishment by Shah Jahan,
who you all know to be the man who was responsible for the Taj Mahal.
Street scenes are my favorite photos.
And the street art is a close second… (My friend Meta would go nuts here!)
I don’t have a clue what this is – there appears to be phone numbers, it could be an advertisement for a plumber, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

We didn’t have a dinner planned with the group so I scheduled a massage and an oil-drip for when I returned to the hotel. They had an authentic Ayurvedic spa and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

I chose a one-hour massage and a one-hour oil drip. I really didn’t know what to expect.

I have weekly massages back home, have been having them for years, decades really, but the truth is, I have never had a massage from a man. And I didn’t actually think that my first one would be in India of all places.

I had brought a robe with me because I’ve been in enough spas in my lifetime where they haven’t had a robe that fit me. Turns out I didn’t need one because guess what, they don’t use them. Oh no, they don’t, just a towel. And a standard sized towel. NO SHEET! So not only was I worrying about side boob, but I was worrying about side thigh and side stomach and side everything!

If you’ve never had an Ayurvedic massage, they are a little more intense than a normal massage. I certainly wouldn’t want to have them on a regular basis but I just kept telling myself – this is good for me. As I heard my masseuse becoming quite winded while he kneaded away – this is good for you, this is good for you, this is good for you.

When he reached under the towel and started doing my stomach I realized I was truly in a different world and my anxiety level shot through the ceiling. I’m not sure how people are supposed to relax when getting a massage like this – maybe they aren’t supposed to.

I think there may actually have been a shift change about three-quarters of the way through my massage because all of a sudden the man said he had to go and the owner came in and finished. He was very nice, told me I needed to stop using Stevia (he warned me, even if it says it is pure Stevia, it isn’t.) There was a woman who kept coming in to check on me and every time she would see me she’d say in the most lovely, sing-songy voice, “Good morning!” (Even though it was after 7 in the evening.) She was very sweet.

After I finished with my massage they covered me up with a bunch of towels (where were these towels earlier?!?) and they removed a part of the top section of the massage table. There was a hole cut into the table where a bowl could be placed. And then there was a hole cut into the bottom of the bowl. That is where the oil ran out into a container on the floor. I placed my head over the bowl and then they set up this contraption over my head where they could pour a bunch of oil into a device that allowed them to release the oil in various streams. The oil was warm and it felt good but it was a very long hour. I thought it was going to be more steady and not so much at one time.

When I left they told me not to shower that night so the oil could soak in. I had several Indian friends in college, women with long, beautiful, thick hair. I know that they put oil on it at night so I thought I should try it. They also told me to only take a hot shower the next day and not to use soap. I followed that advice.

Next time I would not do the oil drip. It took me about three days of showering to get my hair to look normal again. I would definitely get another Ayurvedic massage but would want it done by a woman.

Little reading nook in the office of the hotel.
One last photo of the lake before we go…

Goodbye to Udaipur.

India – Day Three & Four: Jodhpur

I was sad to leave Delhi but at least I knew I’d be returning.

First one last Masala Dosa…

We departed Delhi on the day before Election Day.

Here’s a few interesting tidbits about Indian elections. First, liquor is not allowed to be sold for the two days before an election – so people will be clear-headed when they vote. It’s good in theory but I know for myself, I have a liquor cabinet full enough to inebriate most of my neighborhood. Second, elections are held on Saturdays, because guess what, they want to make it easier for people to vote, and as we know, most people don’t work on Saturdays.

Of course there are many reasons why the first Tuesday was originally chosen for Election Day in the U.S. but those reasons are no longer valid. It would be a no-brainer to move elections to Saturday but I tell you, it will never happen, at least not in my lifetime. There are two reasons why. Firstly, most of the people who are unable/unlikely to vote on a Tuesday (people who do not get paid-time-off) tend to vote Democratic. Secondly, municipalities are not going to want to spend even more money on elections than they already are. And since most municipalities are open Monday through Friday it would mean extra hours and possibly even overtime.

Last, and definitely not least, the results of the election are not known for THREE days, until Tuesday! I can’t imagine. In the U.S. it’s gotten so bad the media is predicting winners before the polls are even closed (which I hate SO much – it makes me absolutely CRAZY.) I certainly wouldn’t want to have to wait days to find out who the winners are in an election but it would be nice if the media weren’t allowed to discuss the election results on the air. I believe that is the law in the U.K. There is no way that it can’t be having some effect on results, either people don’t bother voting because they think it doesn’t matter or people vote for candidates who are furthest ahead. But I digress, again…

Departed from DEL – Indira Gandhi International Airport. Like so many airports, there was some amazing art pieces if you take the time to look.

Sun salutation

I flew business class, which is the only real option for a person of my size. The man in the row across from me must have been a famous actor or athlete because two guys came and asked if they could have their photos taken with him. He seemed resigned and obiged.

Jodhpur is located in Thar Desert in the northwest state of Rajasthan. It is called the ‘Blue City’ for the houses that are painted blue in the old area of the city and also ‘Sun City’ because it remains sunny year round (the houses are painted blue to keep cool.)

Upon arrival we were greeted by a huge procession and a band! Okay, it wasn’t for us, but it was spectacular to see nevertheless.

The streets were too narrow for us to get to the hotel on our bus. (Our bus driver Suki had driven the bus overnight from Delhi, I think Regine said it took him about 12 hours of driving, compared to our flight which only took an hour and a half!)

Time for the TUK TUKs! Tuk Tuks are auto-rickshaws, they are called other things in other countries, for example, when we saw them in Cuba they called them CoCoTaxis and in Thailand (and in some parts of India) they call them PuttPutts.

Not particularly easy for a big girl to get in and out of but I managed.

The hotel – RAAS – was incredible. It’s located in the heart of Jodhpur and has a breathtaking view of the Mehrangahr Fort.

Unfortunately the people staying in the room that I was supposed to have decided to stay on, and I ended up in a room that was a bit of a challenge for me to get to. One thing that I will say about India, they aren’t very concerned about accessibility. They really can’t be I suppose. BUT the people here are spectacularly accommodating and are always willing to help as much as possible (usually.)

This was the stairway to my room. It wouldn’t have been a problem if there had been ANYTHING to hold onto! The person across from me also has mobility issues so the two of us had to call the front desk for assistance every time we needed to go anywhere. They were always willing to come and get us though. Very nice staff.

We got to go to Maharani Textiles & Handcrafts, which is AMAZING! You make you’re way down beneath the streets of Jodhpur to find that there are about 40 enormous rooms filled with bolts of fabric to the ceiling.

This fabric house makes scarves, bed covers, shawls, etc. for some of the most famous fashion houses in the world – such as Miu Miu, Prada, Kenzo, and Armani. Absolutely gorgeous!
Padam Jain, 5th generation owner of Maharani Textiles & Handcrafts
Okay, I did feel badly that these guys had to fold all the scarves back up after we went through all of them but our tour guide reminded me about something we had discussed earlier – the one thing that India has plenty of is manpower and Indians do not mind doing work like this.

We returned to the hotel and dined al fresco with this view.

Fortunately, my tour guides pushed to get me moved to a different room the second evening. Which turned out to be was even bigger relief than I had realized. My original room had stairs leading to a rooftop gazebo, which sounds great, but I think it had an opening straight to the outdoors. I could hear dogs barking all night, and LOUDLY, even with the ear plugs in that were provided.

I know that it’s always smart to travel with ear plugs but I never do because I find them more uncomfortable than dealing with the noise. Usually if I have a noise issue, I’d rather put a pillow over my head but travel tip – GET A GOOD PAIR OF EAR PLUGS if you‘re going to India! You will need them.

In Jodhpur, being in the middle of the city, there was the traffic, there were the animals, but there was also the mosque that was right next door. The hotel left the following message for guests…

And let me tell you, the brief azan lasted way more than 50 seconds. And when they did the Friday azan (which also happened on Saturday evening,) it lasted closer to an hour and a half! I have an issue with this, an azan is only supposed to be a call to prayer, it’s not supposed to be full out proselytizing.

Quinoa porridge is one of my new favorite things. I need to learn to make it. Also, masala eggs.
Waiting by the pool while they prepare my new room.
Definitely my favorite room so far, comfort-wise.
I had my own private terrace.
And the best bathroom!!!

While everyone else went for a tour of the fort (which was going to entail a lot more step climbing) I stayed back. Frankly, I was tired and needed a little break. We had been going like gangbusters for days and I was not going to make it 3-1/2 weeks if I didn’t pace myself (there are only three of the seven of us who are going on both tours.)

Besides, this place was beautiful and it had a SPA! Time for a little pampering.

That evening we had another dinner with the same magnificent view. I slept like a log (or I heard someone say, slept like a bear today, I thought that was a good analogy.) It was much quieter in my ground floor room. I would give up a room with a view for a quiet room any day. Besides, the entire place is a view!

Then, once more, TukTuks to the bus. This time it was a blue TukTuk as we left the Blue City.

Here’s Rohit, our guide on the left. The young man next to him was so sweet, I am going to send in a review and tell them that he was extremely helpful and how much I appreciate all he did. I can’t remember who the third man is. The woman on the right is Regine, who arranged the entire tour, both tours.

Just a few photos on the way to the Jain Temple.

Sign at the rest stop – cracked me up.

The Jain Temple in Ranakpur was absolutely incredible. Built in the 15th century, it is one of the five most holy places of the Jain faith. I will add more here when I have time…

February is a very popular time to get married in India and we saw a few new brides at some of the places we visited. Newly married women are easy to spot, they are decked out in gorgeous saris with lots of jewelry.
The happy couple was kind enough to let us take photos.
This young boy really wanted his photo taken.

We stopped at Mountbatten Lodge for lunch. The food was amazing. I would really love the recipe for the soup. Yum!

And the mustard potatoes… out of this world.
Dining under a spectacular banyan tree

India – Day One: Delhi

I haven’t mentioned this on my blog (though everyone I know has heard about this for months) but I decided to take a trip to India! And since so many people have asked me to keep them up-to-date on my trip, I thought the easiest thing to do would be to keep a diary via my blog.

Here we go….

I don’t ever remember traveling by plane where I left one one day and arrived two days later, but that’s what happened. I departed on February 3rd and arrived on the 5th! Course the 11-1/2 hour time difference and the fact that I took off from Chicago in the evening and landed in Delhi at 2:30 am also added to the appearance of a very long trip. Still, door-to-door it was about 26 hours…..

I flew on Emirates – Chicago to Dubai, Dubai to Delhi. I never thought I’d get the chance to fly on Emirates, which is supposed to be one of the best airlines in the world. I will say, the plane to Dubai was pretty fancy. The plane to Delhi was an older version and definitely not as nice. If I hadn’t flown business class I don’t know how I, a plus-sized woman, could have possibly handled the flight. Even in business class it wasn’t comfortable enough to sleep.

I read recently that the best way to get better service on planes is to bring your flight attendant(s) a treat so I brought a small package of Betty Jane’s Gremlins (the best candy in the world) and gave them to my lovely attendant. Honestly, I think she would have been as sweet and helpful even if I hadn’t given her a gift, but she seemed sincerely delighted that I brought them for her. She told me at the end of the trip that she had kept them all for herself and eaten the entire package over the course of the trip! And boy, she did dote on me. I tried to help the guy next to me and say that they were from him too but he was not the friendliest guy. Reap what you sow baby! And my flight attendant was French, she knew the best wines to recommend! Fantastique!

My favorite thing about the plane (to Dubai) was the stars on the ceiling while we were (supposed to be) sleeping…

I was met at the gate in Delhi by a very helpful woman from the tour company who got me through immigration. Since I was so tired (more accurately spacey, ) I can’t say enough how grateful I was to have her assistance.

Despite my haze, I noticed right away the amazing sculptures above the immigration area. You really can’t miss them as you come down the escalators. GORGEOUS They are called mudras and here is what they mean.

SO tired. By the time I checked in at my hotel (had a cup of tea) and got to sleep it was 5 am.

The tour company left me a couple gifts including a wonderful little dancing Ganesha.

I learned the story of Ganesha from reading this collection of myths and legends by Madhur Jeffrey (one of my favorite people in the whole world.) I’m so lucky to have a beautiful, large hardcover version of the book – sadly it’s out of print, at least in the US – but you can still get a small paperback version. Or you can always see what they have at the library!

For some strange reason I only slept for three hours. I made arrangements to have a wake-up call for 11 am the night before. I wanted to make sure I didn’t sleep the entire day away and to try to get onto this time zone. Guess I didn’t need it. BUT I forgot for a bit and was just finishing up in the shower when the front desk called. Apparently they were worried because at about 11:10 there was a knock on the door. As I scrambled to finish dressing another knock. I answered to find three very worried looking people standing there. They said that they were concerned when I didn’t answer my wake up call. I felt badly to have caused them trouble but at the same time, boy do I feel safe!

I went to the concierge to ask where I could get some postcards because for once I’m going to be gone long enough that maybe people will get them before I get home. Maybe. She said the hotel will provide them. I said – are you sure, I need about 15. They’ll be waiting in your room. Fancy schmancy. (And they were on the desk when I came back from lunch.)

A few photos of the interior of the hotel…

This is one part of the ceiling in the lobby.

Lunch was AMAZING. I had Mulligatawny Soup with rice (they are giving me the recipe!) and spiced paneer in egg paratha. Plus – chaaaaaaaiiiiiiiii! I’m in HEAVEN!

Now I’m back in my room writing postcards, reading “The City of Djinn” (it’s delightful!), looking at an incredible view, and thinking about a nap. Having dinner this evening with my first group of travel mates.

Hopefully I won’t fall asleep in my soup (wouldn’t be the first time…)

Mixed Feelings – Part I

Whenever I read or hear about how body or size acceptance has made so much progress, how society as a whole has finally started to recognize, okay, has sort of started to recognize? maybe is seemingly recognizing? that fat shaming* is not acceptable, I’m always torn.

You’re probably thinking, what in the hell is there to be torn about? How can you of all people think it is absolutely not a good thing? Are you a butthead? (The butthead part may just be me.)

Well, I’ll tell you, I’m torn because not only was I born the year Twiggy’s modeling career began, but I’ve lived through a few decades where people, doctors, and even scientists were extraordinarily ill-informed on diet and nutrition. Truly a double whammy.

And now that things seem to be coming ’round, well, frankly, it’s too late for me. Which SUCKS. I mean, it’s great for all the younger people who hopefully won’t have to go through what I did, but I’ve already lived the prime years of my life – I don’t get a do-over. And the things that have been done to my metabolism and to my gut, and to my self-confidence, well, some of it is irreversible. Selfish, yep, but I can’t help it, the feelings are there.

But that is why this blog has become so important to me. It is the way that I plan on getting through the rest of my life. It gives me motivation to learn about what I can do to improve the quality of my life and hopefully I will help others along the way.

Okay, jumping right in. For as long as I can remember I have either had a weight ‘problem’ and/or dieted. About 15 years ago my Mom was diagnosed with a neurological disease (it ended up being Lewy Body Dementia – I am sure I will talk about this at length in the future). My life changed rather dramatically very quickly. One thing I started to do was begin scanning all the family photo albums (a total of about 5000-6000 photos to date.) My Mom was declining fairly quickly and was also heavily medicated, she couldn’t even take care of herself. I was worried that the photos would end up being misplaced or worse, accidentally thrown out.

As I began to go through them, I saw photos of myself from grade school and high school and I thought, “well crap, I wasn’t all that fat” (at least not by today’s standards) or “damn, I would give anything to be that ‘fat’ now.”

It made me remember all the diets I had been on over the years, all with my parents encouragement and financing – Weight Loss Clinic, Weight Control Clinic, Nutrisystem, dozens of trendy diets I can’t remember the names of, things like the Grapefruit diet or the Cabbage Soup diet.

One of the very first attempts was to send me to fat camp. It lasted for seven weeks during the summer before I started high school. That year I weighed around 170 pounds and was 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Me the year before I went to fat camp, I weighed about the same the next summer.

People (including doctors) used a rule of thumb back then (they still do but it’s been modified a bit) to determine how much a person should weight. For women, and this only works if you are 5 feet or taller, you start by saying a 5 foot tall women should weight 100 pounds and then for every inch over that add 3 pounds. Fairly easy. According to this, I should have weighed 127 pounds.

Problem is, it didn’t take into account things like whether a person was an athlete or possibly a person who just had more muscle mass. Most people know that muscle weighs more than fat, (sidebar, this is why the BMI – Body Mass Index is such bullshit but I will discuss that another day) or other factors that could account for why a woman (or a man) might weight more or less and still be the right and healthy weight for their body.

Anyway, back to my story. For the seven weeks I was at the camp we had pretty much the same routine every day and I still remember it even though it was over 40 years ago. We would get up early and exercise, usually that involved calisthenics and a 3 mile run. This was followed by breakfast. The camp was at a university so we stayed in dorms. There was a sports facility about 2 miles away. After breakfast we would walk over to that facility and each of us would be allowed to choose one of several activities – ballet, gymnastics, track, or swimming. We would take the bus back to the dorms (I’m guessing because of time constraints) for lunch. After lunch it was back to the sports facility to do two more activities. Then walk back to the dorm where you would have an hour free time before dinner. After dinner there was a group activity, usually a team sport followed by calisthenics, another 3 mile run and a snack before bed.

Me (center) and my parents right after I returned from fat camp.

Here’s the thing. I did lose 30 pounds in those 7 weeks. Boy were my parents happy. I weighed 135 went I got home. I was still 8 pounds over the ideal weight but so much closer.

I also lost some of my hair. And I didn’t have a BM for the entire time I was there. There is no way I could have continued the amount of exercise that we had done at the camp on a daily basis, I had to go to school for one thing.

Not only that, I had been eating fairly well to keep myself fueled for all the exercise I was doing and I had gotten used to it. Surprise, surprise, I put the weight back on and then some. The same with all the other diets. On each one I would lose about 40 pounds, almost exactly, then I’d hit a plateau. I’d quit and I’d put the weight back on plus 10. Every time. And my weight tick-tick-ticked up.

You know, people still use that rule of thumb thing but guess what, it’s been modified. They don’t use 3 pounds per inch anymore (well, I had someone tell me that is “model weight.”) No, I’ve heard a few variations but the most common is that you should try to be ideally between 4-6 pounds per inch for an average frame. You can go to 8 pounds per inch for someone who is athletic or larger framed. That means for someone who is 5’9″ the weight could be anywhere between 127 (for a model) – 154 (average frame) – 172 (larger frame). What did I say I weighed before I was sent to fat camp?

I have often wondered to myself, if I had just been left alone, would I look like I look today? Of course that’s only part of the story. There’s also the genetic thing, the antibiotic thing, the additives thing, well, there’s a lot of other things – and I’m planning on talking about them all. But I’ll stop for today.

To be continued…