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Fat boy
I have reached the end of my tether

April 30, 2002
The Iranian

I am at my all time fattest -- 106kg (235 pounds). My second chin rubs on my neck when I turn my head from side to side and I waddle (according to Varinder, my wife) when I walk. I am terrified (messl-e-sag) of becoming a diabetic and the thought of dropping dead from a massive coronary sends chills down my spine.

None of my diets have ever worked (or should that read I haven't managed to keep to any of my diets -- they would have worked). I know there is really only one way of losing weight too. I have to EAT LESS FOOD! My dad once told me "Soolakh-e-dahanet az soolakh-e-koonet gondeh tareh."

Before I embark on my latest diet with the support of Weight Watchers, here follows a day in the life of "Fat Boy Fat", as Varinder refers to me.

Every day I wake up thinking about what I'm going to have for breakfast. As Varinder gets into the shower, I head downstairs to put the kettle on and boil four eggs for us. I make some Iranian tea and let it brew before timing the toast to coincide with the eggs being made and V coming down to join me.

Whilst performing all of these taskes, I have also consumed two slices of bread and raided the fridge for any leftover Iranian sweets from a party we had some weeks ago. I wipe all the crumbs off my face before V walks in and even remind myself not to kiss her in case she smells the baklava on my breath.

Sugaring my tea is always dangerous. I have to wait 'til V has turned away to butter her toast before putting a couple more spoonfuls into my glass and stirring it quickly and silently so she doesn't see. Once she accidentally sipped my tea and gagged at how much sugar I had put in it. I don't think she cares any more, but I still feel I need to keep my bad habits (just like my nose picking) away from her.

By noon I am looking around me for something to snack on again. V suggests fruit but my body is craving for bread. I walk to fridge, take out a slice, roll it up and push it completely into my mouth. Next I take a banana and when there is enough space in my mouth, take a bite out of it. Then I walk back into the lounge. V knows nothing about the bread and can only smell banana on my breath if she kisses me.

My lunches, in contrast, are quite tame affairs -- thanks to my pre-noon snack attack. I take some frozen chicken and stick it under my beloved George Foreman grill. A little salt and pepper with some mango chutney on the side and my lunch is ready to eat. V usually has some soup with no bread.

My next hunger pangs begin mid afternoon. This is when my stomach tempts me into the kitchen to look in the fridge and all of the cupboards for some inspiration. If I don't see anything I like, I go upstairs into Nick's office to see if he has any food left over from his lunch. Sometimes I am in luck and there is half a family sized bar of chocolate sitting on his monitor (Nick is a thin, tall Argentinean who eats like a horse).

Under the pretext of wanting to have a chat about some work issue I absent-mindedly break chucks of chocolate and put just enough into my mouth to allow me to continue talking at the same time. I don't think Nick has cottoned on to why I have these dull mid afternoon conversations with him yet.

Dinner can lead to me having tantrums. V prefers me to have a light meal and not eat anything after 7:00pm. I argue that we haven't seen Sam and Arosha (good friends who love good eating) for a while and should meet them for dinner. We usually meet at Hafez Restaurant in Notting Hill Gate where I can get my fesenjoon or chelo kabab hit. But it is actually the rice I crave for the most. I could sit and eat an entire seenee of fluffy, white Iranian rice with nothing else.

If persuading V to go out doesn't work I insist on cooking her a favourite pasta dish. I pour some olive oil (hand pressed and sent to us from a friend's olive grove in Sicily) into a deeg and fry a few red onions. While they are browning I grill some thickly sliced aubergines in my George Foreman grill. I chop some garlic and if necessary add a little more olive oil -- you can never use too much.

Next step is to boil the pasta, which can be any type. While the pasta boils I taste the onions and add some sugar and little more salt. Next, I add my two secret ingredients, half a teaspoon of Iranian 'advieh' and the same of crushed chilli. Finally I add some freshly cut up carrots and green beans bought washed and pre-packed from Marks & Spencer.

Once the pasta is "al-dente" I strain away the liquid and add it to the frying onions and olive oil (can you smell it yet?). I mix everything together before adding two or three large tablespoons of double cream to blend the different flavours and calm them down. The gorgeous looking plates of food are topped with the salted and grilled aubergines and eaten in front of the TV.

I feel ready for bed at around 11:00pm, which is when V heads upstairs to cleanse her face with various products she buys to be used in her sleep. While she is upstairs I check the doors and windows, switch off the lights, TV and place another slice (or two) of bread into my mouth as I pass the fridge.

I have become adept at chewing, swallowing licking the last crumbs from around my lips by the time I reach the top of the stairs. I toss and turn uncomfortably in bed (my stomach feeling stretched and sounding like a drum when tapped) before I begin to fall asleep. My final thoughts are that I must lose weight before I become a diabetic, drop dead from a heart attack or end up dead from some other complication due to over eating.

I want to live long and watch our yet to be conceived children grow up and get married. I want to become a grandfather (neither of my two grandfathers ever saw us having died long before my sister and I were born). I want to be slim and attractive to other women -- despite being happily married to the love of my life.

I cradle my stomach and pinch the roles of fat below my belly button and wonder what will happen to all the spare skin if I lose all of the 35kgs or 70 pounds that I need to. Perhaps I will be able to pull it out and glide off buildings like a flying squirrel. Deep down I know that I will wake up the following morning having reset myself back to the cheerful, hungry person of the day before.

I know that the fear of dying because of my cholesterol caked arteries (I haven't checked it in years) will temporarily evaporate as my hunger kicks in. My brother in-law, who's a doctor, keeps warning me too. He tells me that once I develop diabetes I will be as good as sentenced to death. I shudder. Yet a few minutes later I'm tucking into a doughnut shop in the White Rose centre (a mall near their home in Leeds).

The most heart breaking part of all this is listening to V telling me how selfish and unfair I am being. She will be devastated if I die, she tells me. What will she do all by herself with kids to raise, she cries. How can I be so self centred and not even think about losing weight while we are trying to conceive? Some drastic action needs to be taken. I have reached the end of my tether.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Siamack Salari

By Siamack Salari

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