When I was asked to write an article resembling Candace Bushnell’s “Sex and the city” column, I immediately started thinking about what Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the HBO series of the same name) and I could possibly have in common.
To begin with, Carrie is a writer who loves fashion. I’m supposedly a fashion icon, an ex supermodel, fashion choreographer, producer and event manager. We’re both obsessed with shoes, bags, clothes and accessories. Neither Carrie nor I throw our old clothes away and as a result we both have overstuffed closets. The only difference here is that Carrie has to make do with a teeny closet (not one of the perks of living in New York City) while I house all my old clothes in a ‘Kapra godown’ as I call it. I pay rent for this and needless to say it is the most useless godown ever.
My closet might not be full of Manolos but it is fabulous enough to have starred in an episode of “In the Closet” on DawnTV along with my rather affected quote, “I don’t wear anything twice,” which sent many a tongue wagging. The Principal of my children’s school then asked me if this statement was true to which I humbly replied, “Mrs Fernandez, I don’t wear anything twice because I borrow clothes from my designer friends and return them after I’ve worn them once.” And this, my friends, is the honest truth. Manolo Blahnik is the most PR savvy designer out there, he gives free shoes to celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker who then make him famous! This is what celebrities can do for brands . . . are you listening Sana Safinaz, Umar Sayeed, and Deepak Perwani? Keep sending me joras! But of course, you can’t borrow a Dior or a Birkin so all the western wear in my closet is paid for, not borrowed - which is exactly what Carrie brags about.
Sadly, the next thing that Carrie and I have in common is that she and I both got stood up on our respective wedding days. Mind you, she eventually married the guy who stood her up; I, thankfully, did not. While she wore Vera Wang and a bird in her hair, I was in Faiza Samee. While she ended up throwing her gorgeous white flowers at her gutless groom, I made a dramatic exit. I wore white for a week, my friends and family came to console me and it truly felt like my husband had died!
Carrie has three best friends, and so do I. Miranda, the hotshot lawyer, the proper Charlotte and Samantha the PR agent whose sexual escapades had men hooked to the show. I too have my buddy system firmly in place except that since all my girlfriends are abroad, my three friends are all guys!
The other thing Carrie and I have or rather, had, in common is that Carrie is a Size 2 and I’m… uh, well… I was a Size 2. Which brings me to my next point: Whether a woman lives in New York City or Karachi she will always have a certain something in common with other women: The Weight Issue.
Being 40 and vain is not easy. Your body starts to change at 25 or so - gravity takes its toll and things you’d never imagined begin to happen: skin pigmentation sets in, lines appear and love handles develop. I put on 65 pounds when I was pregnant with my first child (on a formerly 98 pound frame). Imagine my shock when my son was born - he weighed only six and a half pounds and the rest of the 59 pounds remained on me. I managed to work off most of this weight before I got pregnant again with my daughter. This time I was careful, but even after losing weight and coming down to 110 pounds, my body had changed forever. I now had to contend with stretch marks; and the C-section left me with a round tummy that no exercise could tone.
Yes, I’ve made my rounds of all the diet websites, tried the diet pills, been on Atkins, the cabbage soup and the South Beach diets. I’ve lost weight and put it back on. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is surgery and that’s the result of having watched too many episodes of Nip and Tuck and Grey’s Anatomy. So when my buddy Uzma suggested a visit to a health place on Bentota Beach in Sri Lanka where one is fed diet food, given five massage treatments a day, has acupuncture, yoga and meditation, I jumped at the opportunity to try a non-surgical solution. I managed to rope in my sister and she managed to rope in seven others. My buddy, Goldie, (real name Omar Farooq; affectionately called Goldie because everything he touches turns to gold) owner of the infamous Shapes health care institute tagged along to check out the premises and see if there was potential to set up a business along similar lines in Pakistan.
The Aruyvedic Spa is a steal at Rs12,750 a day with five treatments, boarding and lodging at a stunning sandy beach - weight loss or no weight loss, it can make a super holiday! The doctor advised us to be patient and stay at least 2 weeks. Do I have 2 weeks in my life to get thin? Certainly not! I need a quick fix, which will not make me sick. Anyway, at this spa you are given different treatments each day. The staff cure ailments and tell you what you may or may not eat. The buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner are quite scrumptious if you ignore some funny looking vegetables and stock up on soups and salads. My plan was to stay for a week. After two days I had lost a kilo and a half and told the others that I would stick around for a week if the weight loss continued. Imagine, 3.5 kilos off in 7 days and amazingly all I had to do was lie on the beach and read Ken Follet’s War of the Giants. Bliss, bliss, bliss!
Sadly all good things come to an end! On the third morning I had put on half a kilo and I had not cheated! My sister Neshmia who loves lobsters had made up her mind to go on holiday rather than embark on a weight loss program and declared that she had had enough! She booked herself and all of us into hotels in Colombo and we said goodbye to Paradise Hotel, Bentota.
So do I recommend this Spa? Well, if you have two weeks to spare and need lots of alone time, go. If you are looking at an easy fix, Dr Mabroor Bhatti lipo and tuck might be your best option. If you are looking for long time action and have major weight to lose, then stapling the stomach which doctor Mehar offers would be the latest fashionable option. (I could name all those who have done it but I would be out of friends pretty soon.) Want to learn more? Mesotherapy, another viable option involves injections and a trip to France or Florida. So many options, such little time.
Speaking of time, its time to head down to the sea food restaurant at the Colombo hotel to gorge on delicious crabs and prawns and undo five days of the yucky grub I ate at the health farm! Cheers!
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2011.