Obese Hong Kong food writer walks it off in India: 8 days in and weight change has begun
Mischa Moselle has already seen his waistline shrink and he can walk an hour without stopping, but he’s finding it hard to avoid the carbs at mealtimes
You know you’re unfit when you’re wheezing up a hill and a nun breezes past leading a group of children.
It’s day eight of my attempt to walk 1,450 kilometres in 90 days in India and I’m at the Edakkal caves in Kerala, known for the inscriptions several thousand years old on their walls. Nothing here is quite as it seems. The “cave” is actually a gap between two boulders with a roof made by a further boulder that rolled on top.
I’m told the climb is “a short walk and then just a few steps”. It’s a very steep short walk to me and there are 200 steps. Scores of people pass me on the way up but eventually I keep pace with a group of middle-aged women who are as intimidated as me but far less breathless.
The climb is one of nature’s jokes, with quite a few false summits. Then the caves are down a set of stairs that you well know you will have to climb back up again. But the steeper the climb, the better the view. There really is a gorgeous panorama of the hill-dotted plains of Kerala.
I feel like I’ve done 45 minutes of cardio and blown away the cobwebs from the early disappointments of my starting point Bangalore and then Mysore.
I timed my arrival with the end of the monsoon – for 99 years it has ended by early or mid-November. Not this centenary year – it’s the longest monsoon on record and as a headline in The Times of India says, “Bangalore set for wettest November on record”. It’s not just that I’m not equipped for rain, the weather casts a depressing grey blanket over everything.
On a walk through an upmarket Bangalore side street I almost vomit on the spot as I pass some rubbish that has been soaking in rainwater and then been sitting in the warm fug.
Next stop Mysore has the Wodeyar maharajah’s palace and is full of parks. It recently won a prize as the cleanest of India’s 479 cities but seen through a constant drizzle it doesn’t look that endearing.
I manage one good walk – on a day trip to see historic king Tipu Sultan’s summer palace and mosque.
Out in the beautiful countryside of Wayanad in Kerala and into the second week of my trip, the weather improves somewhat, but only in the mornings. I’m making some progress on the mileage but I’m still off target.
After the cave there are daily walks around my hotel and another day trip to a dam and lake, often in the company of monkeys, goats and cows.
The good news is that even the small amount of exercise done so far has had a massive impact. I can already walk an hour without a break instead of 10 minutes, and many small aches and pains have disappeared.
When I stood up to get off the bus from Mysore to Wayanad I felt incredibly light. This has to be psychological but I’m taking it.
I’ve also realised how dehydrated I’ve been in Hong Kong. Drinking litres of water a day means that patches of dry skin I’ve had for years are visibly shrinking. Drinking that much water also means I’m generally feeling full and eating far less.
The diet isn’t ideal. I’m trying to avoid carbs but there is some combination of rice, potatoes and bread in just about everything. Indian cooks can be heavy-handed with the salt and sugar as well.
I catch up with an old friend from England who has become a noted podiatrist and personal trainer, Tim Hawes. He tells me my general plan is pretty good but I’m not paying enough attention to my proteins – he recommends loading up on fish when I get to the coast.
The moment of truth comes when I measure my waist on day 14 and I’m 140cm, a loss of 5cm. I’m putting that down to losing retained water and better posture but, again, I’m taking it.
See you in 210km or so.