Weighing one’s options

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Weighing one’s options

There must be brighter ways to know your weight than standing on bathroom scales

By Indrajit Hazra

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Published: Fri 19 Apr 2013, 11:15 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:34 PM

In a day and age when a phone is not just a phone but also a camera, and a car is not just a car but where you also play your music, the weighing scale is a bit of a bummer. Even when you check into a fancy hotel room, the bathroom with a sink-in tub, a shower nozzle probably designed by NASA, and 
a shaving mirror that magnifies 
your nose hair until it looks like a 
single Redwood tree, will have a weighing machine that has no other purpose than weighing you. A bit disappoint-ing, that.

But last week, as I was ambling about town in search of bright lights, I was drawn to the literally bright lights on a different kind of weighing machine. I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember these contraptions straight from some mid-20th century carnival ground, but I saw three weighing machines that also gave out information about the person’s personality. I remember these machines being positioned at tactical points on railway platforms when I was young. Seeing not one, but three of them outside and inside a cinema in the heart of Delhi, meant only one thing: I was going to weigh my personality and body mass.

The first weighing machine inside the foyer areas looked old. It was the height of a tall cabinet and through a glass panel, you could see its innards along with the single light and pulleys. Looking about to check whether anyone was watching me embark on this matter of intensely personal fact-finding, I stepped on the plate jutting out of the machine.

The ‘Automatic Weighing Machine’ had a sign that told the user to “wait for the disc to stop” before putting in a one rupee coin that it charged as a consultation fee. The red-and-white disc rotated clockwise and then counter-clockwise and came to a tantalising stop. I put my coin in and waited for the machine to spit out a small cardboard card with the information I was paying for. I waited. Nothing happened. I saw through the glass panel that the stack of cards in a clip were blocking each other. This machine had gobbled up my coin like a government taxing me.

One rupee poorer and none the wiser about my weight or psycho-profile, I proceeded to the two machines outside the cinema on the footpath. The machine on the left looked newer, shinier and the lights were straight from the disco era. It was called, rather unimaginatively I thought, a ‘Check Your Weight’ machine and was probably one of the finest products made by Lunna Scales Company, New Delhi. Position taken, red and white disc stopped, coin inserted, out popped the card: I was 82 kg and was “popular, vivacious, athletic and graceful”.

So I needed to get a correct reading now. I couldn’t be 82 kg. For my height, the flipside of the card told me, I should be between 68 and 75 kg. 
A silent harrumph later, I boarded on the plate of the machine on the right. 
It looked exactly the same as the earlier one but this was made by Northern Scales Company, New Delhi, and 
was called ‘Here Health Speaks’. It informed me via a white printout 
that I was 82 kg and should “have a nice day”.

The old maharajas and Mughal kings would get themselves weighed by sitting, usually on their birthdays, on one end of a giant pair of scales and have the other end loaded with their weight in gold. With my bathroom scale busted and not having any hotel trip planned in the near future, I left the bright lights hoping to find a pair of giant scales and get myself measured. What my well-wishers load the other end with will determine my personality. Did I just hear you mutter about a whole lot of cotton wool?

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