Garlic was a taboo in my family back then, because it was believed it gave urge to sexual impulses. But I felt my father was not right in thinking so.
Krishnaswamy Iyer, 73 years, retired General Manager of a bank, Bangalore
Interviewed by Poorva Dinesh
Why did you decide to give us an interview on heath?
I thought health could be a topic that could be of interest to the younger and the older generation. We used to do a hell lot of walking in our younger days, which people are missing out now because of automobiles, vehicles and technology that is present today. For us it was normal to get up from the seat and do a certain job, which nowadays they don’t do it. They expect all gadgets to do it. Even inside a house, people call each other up, whereas we use to walk up, go to the other person, or shout and call them out, but those things are lacking now.
Given your age, do you advice people on health?
I specifically target people when it comes to health. I will tell you why I do that. Say, for example, people who smoke, or people who are into gambling or card-playing. These are all sedentary habits that can be avoided. You don’t have to smoke to move with the crowd. I have never smoked in my life, but yet I have moved around with the crowd. I tell people these could be the causes for the ailments they have, which they can possibly avoid by taking a few small steps. This will improve their quality of living, and also make them a role model for other people for years to come.
If I find people gorging on food, which is heavy on oil, I advice them…even to the extent of walking up to people I don’t know in restaurants and telling them, much to the dislike of my wife and family.
Have you ever done that?
This happened way back in Calcutta. I didn’t know this Marwari family, and I saw this gentleman eating food so rich in fat that I went up to him and told him that maybe he should cut down…today he is a good friend. So that did give me a sense of satisfaction that I did promote some level of well-being in the society or at least at an individual-level. But let me be clear that I don’t thrust myself on people. I give advice only if they are willing to take it. To me health is a primary factor that rules my life and guides all my emotions.
Food has an important role to play when it comes to health. Do you follow a certain diet that you believe contributes to your health?
I am a vegetarian to begin with and have always been one. I don’t drink or smoke. These are vices I have avoided for years. By nature, I am conservative than others of my age, yet I am open to all ideas that are good for health. What’s good for health should be followed whether you are vegetarian or not. Take cod liver oil for example. Because it comes from fish, it is not accepted in the vegetarian diet, but I don’t have any such inhibitions. Eggs don’t constitute as non-vegetarian food in my vocabulary either, and as a sportsman I used to have raw eggs. But I can still have raw eggs if that is good for me.
I insist on a diet that is non-carbohydrates. Carbohydrates essentially lead towards weight gain. I have cut down on sugar, cut down on sweets, cut down on rice to the extent possible, but I love rice, and I am selective about vegetables that contribute to good health. I consume garlic and onion, though garlic was a taboo in my family back then, because it was believed it gave urge to sexual impulses. But I felt my father was not right in thinking so; so I consume both, though my mother never prepared food with onion and garlic in my younger days.
The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love essentially means sharing, in short. It’s got a tremendous dimension. I don’t mean it in the physical sense. God has made it as an act of procreation that leads to the expansion of population of society, which is needed. But that in itself is a much smaller thing in my entire philosophy of love.
If I in my own limited capability give whatever resources that I have, with whatever I can contribute in any small manner to the needy, I think that is love.