(written in April 2010)
During the twelve days that I spent in the Queen of the Garhwal hills, I had three clear-cut impressions of the little town. A brief description of each may not be out of place – they might indeed be of some educational value to my readers.
The first was that the town crawled with newly-weds. This was not unexpected, coming just after the wedding season, or so I suspect. The new wives were armed from the wrist to the elbow of both hands with gauntlets made of gold, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. The new husbands tried to look proud, possessive and masterful at the same time – most succeeded in looking somewhat sheepish; it was the wives who looked possessive.
The husbands had already – in a matter of a few days – been reduced to their traditional role of payout cashier and coolie. They tried to hide this with a heroic display of bravado – a handful managed to carry their plastic bags of purchases like the proud banner Excelsior; one managed to do something I have seen only one other man do successfully – swing his left hand in the same direction as his left foot and vice versa (try it for a while – it’s more difficult than you think); most dragged their feet as they clambered up and down the Mall behind their wives as the thought sank in that this is what they have been sentenced to for the rest of their lives.
The second sight was that of large women. There must have been a convention or conference of women over 100 kilos – not that I saw any announcement of this – but there can be no other explanation for the large number of overweight women who infested Mussoorie in the last two weeks. As some of you may know, I have a BSc Honours degree in Physics, and my normally dormant spirit enquiry suddenly came alive. I estimated that the average height of the women that I saw was about 5 feet 2 inches. The average girth was also probably the same – which led me to the conclusion that their tailors must really welcome their custom. For two reasons: first the cloth consumed for each dress made for each of these women must be at least 50% more than normal; second, the task of measuring them around their middle must lead to a significant amount of physical exercise, which must be highly beneficial for their hearts (the tailors’ I mean; I am not sure the customers gain any health benefit from being measured). Of course, it is possible that the tailor just joins two tapes together, end to end, and/or employs assistant to circumnavigate the customer – but I refuse to believe that the fine upright tailors of India would stoop to such practices.
A quick calculation will show you that the average volume occupied by a single one of such women is about 300 cubic metres – allowing for tapering of the body at the top and the bottom, we could shave, let’s say, about 50 cubic metres; this leaves a round number of approx 250 cubic metres as the average volume. Impressive, right?