Watching Anirban Lahiri pick up a tiny piece of kimchi salad with dexterity gave an insight into how his eating etiquette has evolved. He didn’t have a choice though. Before he made it to the US, the considerable time on the Asian Tour taught him the use of chopsticks.
After all, stepping into a restaurant in the Far East and asking for a fork was insulting. At the Emirates Golf Club, there was no compulsion, but the piece of cabbage was too small to lift with a fork. “Stepping up,” was how he would have called it earlier. Now, he puts it as, “Doing what needs to be done in order to get better.”
In golf too, getting to the PGA Tour hasn’t put an end to the process. Anirban seeks more. Exhaustive discussions after reaching the highest platform have yielded that he’s better than the average player there in terms of awareness and skill. He lacks in endurance and strength.
Pushing himself and boundaries, Anirban arrived in the US on the back of non-stop golf, and perhaps that made the phase of acclimatisation tougher. A season down, he can talk about no longer being overawed by the conditions, but struggle with the body continues.
The latest one, a crick in the neck (from watching too many TV shows on the laptop) is mentioned with a laugh, but sitting out 25 days (due to an overused shoulder) towards the end of last year has been looked at seriously.
Teaming up with a fresh set of experts, he’s looking to strike a balance between diet and workout. “It’s about reducing work on the (practice) range and increasing the effort off it,” he said.
As he goes about it, awareness about the body is up too. Till a while back, he didn’t know potatoes were not for him. Now, it’s off the diet chart, as is rice at night. Instead, it is quinoa, a super food. Since the Bengali in him is still alive despite all the travel, he can have rice in the afternoon as long as he burns it out at practice.
Popular perception can often be misleading, and that’s not lost on Anirban. He offered the 2015 Maybank Malaysian Open as an example.
“For the record, I won but only I know how badly I played,” he said, referring to the poor hitting off the tees that week. It was belief and sharp play on the greens that bailed him out. “Being true to yourself, be it the state of your craft or fitness, is critical,” he said.
The signs of being fitter and stronger are there, and if returns come his way at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic this week, it will be welcomed. Otherwise, Anirban will plough on, telling himself that change takes time to show up.