Sunday, March 13, 2016

Precision Destroys Pleasure – Counting Kills Enjoyment

Self Help Wisdom from a Veteran

It was a grand Navy party on our ship.

There was lots of bonhomie and spirits were high.

Booze was flowing freely – and the stewards were offering drink after drink to officers, especially the guests.

“Come on Sir – your glass is empty – here is a drink for you...” the steward said, offering a glass of whisky to a guest officer.

“No – No – I have had 3 pegs already,” the officer said.

“Sir – you have had 5 pegs – but who is counting…?” the steward said.

I laughed.

The wizened steward had a point – if you are going to count your drinks – then why drink at all...?

The aim of drinking alcohol is to feel happy – so you must drink till you feel happy – why count your drinks...?

Happiness depends on your drinking mood – not on the number of drinks you have.

It is the same with eating good food.

The moment you start counting calories – you lose the enjoyment of food – you keep focusing on calories in a dish – instead of its taste.

At buffets – I have seen “figure conscious” beauties looking wistfully at the lavish spread of delicious food – counting the calories in every dish – and then settling for just a little bit of salad – and even skipping the enticing “calorie laden” desserts.

Later – I am sure they wish they had eaten to their heart’s content.

Why go to a feast it you want to count your calories...?

In this “digital” age – people “count” everything.

Long ago – during my glorious Mumbai days – one Sunday morning – I took a friend on one of my enjoyable Sunday special super-long walks in Mumbai.

Let me give you an idea of the route.

We started early  at dawn  from my house in Empress Court  opposite the Oval near Churchgate  admiring, in the early morning pre-sunrise light, the impressive silhouettes of the magnificent Gothic structures of the High Court and Mumbai University across the Oval – we heard the clock on Rajabai Tower strike 6 – then we walked briskly past Oxford Bookstore, KC College, CCI, Marine Plaza Hotel till Marine Drive.

We crossed the Marine Drive, turned right and started off towards Chowpatty, greeting with a smile the morning joggers and walkers, rinsing my lungs with the fresh invigorating sea breeze, and soon we were past Marine Lines, Taraporewala Aquarium, Charni Road, Chowpatty, Wilson College and at the end of Marine Drive.
Here we turned left up the Walkeshwar Road to Teen Batti – we did not go towards Banganga – but turned right towards Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill – took a round of garden atop the water tank near Kamala Nehru Park (is it called Phirozeshah Mehta Udyan?) – cantered down to Kemp’s Corner where we turned right - a U-turn really – past Crossword Bookstore – down Hughes Road – left past Gamdevi , Nana Chowk and crossed the railway over-bridge – and we kept going onto Grant Road past Novelty Cinema – turned right at Delhi Durbar on Falkland Road – kept walking till we reached VP Road – walked past Gol Deval, Alankar cinema and there we were at Bhendi Bazar – looking at the inimitable Noor Mohammadi Hotel in front of us across Mohamedali Road – our first “halt” – for rest and replenishment.

Around 2 hours of brisk walking had built up in me a voracious appetite – and I was ready to devour a sumptuous breakfast.

I was hungry – and I eat only when I am hungry.

(Even here – I do not “count” – I do not look at the clock and eat my meals – I do not eat lunch just because it is “lunchtime” – whenever I feel hungry – I eat – I have had my lunch anywhere between 11 and 3).

Coming back to our story – we enteredr the Spartan no-nonsense eatery – and I ordered Nalli Nihari and Roti for both of us.

Within a minute a bowl of piping hot gravy – with a generous chunk of succulent meat floating in it – and a fluffy khaboosh roti was placed in front of me – and one in front of my friend.

I dipped a piece of the soft roti in the spicy rich gravy – let it soak for a while – put it in my mouth – and closed my eyes to luxuriate in and relish the gastronomic experience in its entirety.
I felt the juicy gravy soaked roti melting on my tongue – releasing its delicious flavours and spicy aroma which permeated into my soul.

I was in seventh heaven – savouring the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari – epicurean pleasure of the highest order - sheer bliss – when I opened my eyes – and I noticed that my friend had not started eating.

“Come on – eat up – or the roti and nihari will get cold,” I said.

“Look at the amount of oil floating in this greasy gravy – there must be so many calories in there…” he said.

“But we have walked so much…” I said.

“How much did we walk – we walked for nearly 2 hours – so if our walking speed was…?”

I could see he was “calculating” the distance in his mind – so I interrupted him – and I said, “How the hell does it matter how much we walked…?”

“I am just trying to calculate whether the calories in this dish are more than the calories we spent walking…”

“Why are you ‘counting’ so much? You enjoyed the walk – didn’t you? Now you enjoy the food…” I said.

It is crazy – the way people “count” while exercising.

The aim of exercise is to make you feel healthy – and more importantly – exercise must make you feel good.

In our school and college days – and later in the Navy – we played team games like football, hockey, basketball, water-polo etc.

No one kept time – no one counted the goals – no one bothered who won or lost – we just enjoyed playing the game.

Later – I used to swim.

As I grew older – I started walking.

I always like to listen to my body while exercising– one day I may exercise more – one day it may be less – I never “count” – it all depends on my mood.

Recently – I came across some crazy “counting” types who put up updates on Social Media (Facebook/Twitter) about the exact distance they have walked (I believe there is a device that measures this).

Instead of enjoying the walking experience – these “quantitative” types are obsessed with distance/speed/heart-rate/pulse-rate/calories expended while walking/jogging/exercising.

The aim of exercise is to make you feel good – and all this “counting” ruins the enjoyment of exercise – and – in fact – may even cause stress in you if you do not meet your “targets”.

Exercise should be a pleasure – not a pain.

Yes – the root cause of this “counting” disease is the all-pervasive competitive environment – and everyone’s desire to “set goals” and “meet targets”.

I remember an incident at work.

Our team was working on an intricate design problem and we were nearing the solution – when suddenly the siren sounded for “lunch break”.

“Sir – it is 12:30 – should we break for lunch,” someone said.

“Are you so hungry that you will drop dead if you don’t eat right now?” I asked him.

“No, Sir,” he said.

“See – we are in the mood now – so let’s finish off what we are doing – if we break off now we will lose our mood and synergy by the time we assemble again after lunch – also we won’t be able to enjoy our lunch because this unresolved problem will still be on our minds – so let’s finish this off first and then we can have a relaxed lunch…” I said.

By the time we finished – it was 1:30 PM – and we were enjoying our lunch – when my boss paid a surprise visit to my office.

Since he was a “clock-watcher” type – he was annoyed that we were having lunch outside the “prescribed lunchtime”.

Next morning – I felt hungry at 11 AM – so I opened up my lunchbox and was enjoying eating my lunch – when my boss made an appearance.

“You are a crazy chap – yesterday – you were eating lunch at 1:30 – and today you are eating at lunch at 11 in the morning…,” my boss remarked.

“Sir – I eat when I am hungry…” I retorted – but my stickler boss did not seem quite convinced.

Also – I sleep when I feel sleepy – not just because it is “bedtime”.

Well – I can go on and on till the cows come home – but I am sure you have got the gist of what I want to say.

Counting Kills Enjoyment

So – Dear Reader:

Stop Counting.

Stop Measuring.

Stop Clock-Watching.

Precision destroys Pleasure – Counting Kills Enjoyment – so why not live a more “qualitative life” rather than the “quantitative life” you are living now...?

PS: Whenever I head for a party – especially a get-together of ex Navy Buddies – I do not taking my watch – I am not going to count – no counting drinks – no counting calories – no clock-watching – just unrestrained enjoyment – yes – that is the way to have a jolly good time…

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1. This is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh. 
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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This is a re-post of my self-help article COUNTING KILLS ENJOYMENT posted by me online earlier at url:

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