Friday, December 3, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

Every Thursday, the Asian languages students are treated to a riveting lecture, called Area Studies. None of them can wait for the moment to come, I can assure you. I have chosen not to partake, for um, let's call them personal reasons. This past Thursday, the lecturer decided to give them some real-life experience to prepare the Fledgling Diplomats for their lives at post and told them they would be going on a field trip to the Washington Islamic Center on Embassy Row. I decided to join them as the Diplomat assured me that it will last only 2 hours tops. At 12 pm, a bunch of bundled up, mildly excited Fledgling Diplomats merrily climbed an oldish-looking bus, which would take us to the Center. Since we are clearly the coolest, the Bangla bunch sat at the back. Half a mile away from the FSI, a strange odor started permeating the bus. It smelled suspiciously of bad exhaust fumes, and lo and behold, turned out that the bus was leaving a large cloud of darkish fumes behind us, which were also slowly permeating the rear of the bus. Soon, the situation was intolerable, and amidst clouds of poisonous smoke, we yelled at the driver to stop. In a few minutes, coughing and breathing heavily, we were hastily on our way back, and since it was starting to get a bit late so some of us clever folk in the back started plotting our escape once we were back at FSI. But the bus driver was cleverer! He took us to the back of the FSI, entered the garage area, closed the gates behind us and told us to get into another bus. There was no way to get out of there—the only way out was onto the bus or climb the fence. Drat! With a deep sigh and resigned air, we are climbed on the bus and went to the Center, where after an interesting talk with the Imam, we stood sheepishly along the walls of the mosque to stare at the faithful responding to the afternoon prayer call. I think I can speak for all when I say that we all felt very stupid, watching people kneel over in prayer for over 15 minutes. As you can tell, our lives at FSI are super interesting!

I also wanted to mention that I am getting a bit worried over the Diplomat’s sweet tooth. He reiterates on a daily basis that he is concerned about his weight and takes vows of sugar abstinence to be broken about 45 mins later. After Thanksgiving, we had a quarter of pumpkin pie and a quarter of apple pie left, which I was slowly enjoying. To my horror, the following night I saw the Diplomat sitting in front of the TV with all the pies piled up on his plate, garnished with a generous helping of whipped cream. I politely asked him what he was doing and, with a pained expression, he told me that he prefers to eat everything now so that he is not tempted later. He also pointed out that the whipped cream was low-fat. The problem is that the following night, faced with a sugarless fridge, he decided that he would go to the deli downstairs and procure condensed milk to mix with some bananas for a semi-healthy evening snack. Few minutes later, he was back with a very guilty expression and after some interrogation, confessed to buying a large box of ice-cream. Which he ate alone.

And while I am on the subject of food, let me tell you about a recent lunch trip we made to the Cheesecake Factory, that epitome of American gluttony. Since I am also obsessed with my weight as most of my friends know (and roll their eyes behind my back about), I decided to go lightly and order an salad. I went to the entrĂ©e salads page and while perusing the impressively large selection, saw that the heading above the bottom three salads read, “weight conscious—all salads under 590 calories.” Wait, what???? How can a salad be ABOVE 590 calories in the first place? Hmm. So, I decided to get a “lunch size” salad with the dressing on the side (typically all the calories are in the dressing) to allay my fears. Soon, the waitress came back with a plate that measured at least two square feet, onto which there was a mountain of lettuce and other salad-related accoutrements about 1.5 ft high. Faced with the mount K2 in salads, I balked and my face lost color—then brightly told her that I had asked for the “lunch” size, and she, just as brightly, assured me that WAS the lunch size. 20 mins later, feeling a bit nauseous, on my way to the restroom, I saw the full portion on someone else’s table—the plate took most of the table, and what was even more shocking, it was mostly empty and its happy owner was gobbling down the last pieces. No, we did not have cake that day. We were lucky to be able to roll back to the car, go home and fall into deep, calorious sleep.

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