Hunger….The whole story


Here we were having a coffee at Dark Horse on Queen Street East, saying hello to the Leslieville neighbourhood and running into old friends when I said the magic words: "I am totally starving!". I was starving – no food except coffee and it was past 1 PM already. And what does Paul (Idee CTO) reply with: "I challenge you to… " Of course I reply: whatever it is I am so taking the challenge… "whoever lasts the longest without food wins…" what the hell? Well it is now too late because you can’t back down from accepting a challenge. Well you could but what would that say about you: that you are scared, that you are conceding defeat without even trying, that you can’t even try not to eat for a few hours… may be it simply says that you are smart and don’t take on stupid challenges… nah… I am in and may the best man win! We start today at 10 AM.

This reminds me of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger.

It was during the time I wandered about and starved in Kristiania: Kristiania, this singular city, from which no man departs without carrying away the traces of his sojourn there.


I am at home doing a bit of work and I just decided to combine all my previous hunger posts into a single post. I will be editing this post as things progress (or don’t!).

Hunger Rules

Since you have been asking already, here are the rules: you can drink: water, tea, coffee.

food is permitted. Vitamins are ok in quantities that you would take
them if you were taking daily vitamins. And no, there will be nobody
following either one of us to make sure that we don’t cheat. It is an
honor thing.

My last meal was at 10 AM today and it consisted of a giant bowl of oatmeal with a banana.

Tuesday January 2nd, 2007: 4:30 PM
Coffee with Suzanne. Wonderful espresso at B-espresso.


Tuesday January 2nd, 2007:8:15 PM
Water is a good thing. I am hungry. Paul can’t feel a thing and says that he is not even remotely hungry. I think it is a ploy to get me to declare him a winner. I am questioning the sanity of this exercise but… it is the evening and I think that I won’t feel the hunger once I am in bed so this evening is really not the time to call it quits. It would not even have been 12 hours…
Mark at the office bet that I would not last 8 hours…

Tuesday January 2nd, 2007 10:30 PM
Decided to bake a cake. Don’t ask… It is insane. It smells so so good. If it turns out ok I will take it to the office tomorrow. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the Idee breakfast day: ie every week on Wednesday the entire office has breakfast together – it is an Idee Affair! I think I can last until then. By 10 AM tomorrow it would have been 24 hours.

I can smell everything…

Tuesday January 2nd, 2007 11:00 PM
A very good friend of mine is coming for a visit from Berkeley (CA) on Thursday night. He is looking forward to some great vegetarian cooking at the Boujnane house. I hope that by then Paul and I would have agreed to stop the experiment. I can cook if I don’t eat but I can’t really leave my dear friend Warren to eat on his own?

The cake looks good enough to go to the office in the morning. I am calling it a day. Off the blog and back to work for a bit.

Tuesday January 2nd, 2007 Midnight
I think that I will give this up tomorrow because it would have been 24 hours by tomorrow 10 AM. Mark K. thinks that this is madness and it has to stop. I think I have to stop because I can’t win this one. Paul has a clear advantage: tolerance for hunger. I need to learn when to "hold them and when to fold them" perhaps tomorrow morning would be the time.

There isn’t anything to gain by trying to see who lasts the longest without food. There is no price. No travel trip. No chocolate. No nothing. What if by tomorrow morning I don’t feel the hunger anymore? I could then go on for another day. Perhaps, perhaps. Work may become difficult on an empty stomach. A lot of emails to respond to tomorrow. A new product introduction next week and new clients. I mean Idee is the priority here.

Wednesday January 3rd, 2007: 9:30 AM
I am not even hungry anymore. The bets are in and they span 10 hours to 72 hours. I know Paul will win this challenge so how does one gracefully exit? I mean accepting defeat after 24 hours is not so bad. I’ve had time to think about my hunger, learned a couple of things. It seems I am not the only one involved in silly new year challenges: look at Matthews’ challenge, a BloggerMania ? — a kind of blogosphere Wrestlemania!

Wednesday January 3rd, 2007: 3:30 PM
Warren the Magnificient comes through. In his comments today the whole story unfolds. I am calling it a day at 16:00 hours today which would make this adventure a whole 30 hour famine! One needs to know when to fold them. To win this challenge I would have (as my colleagues at Idee suggested!) to sabotage Paul – which come to think about it would not be a difficult thing to do but… instead I am going to challenging him to something else: whomever runs the most kilometers this month (January 2007) wins a trip to Madagascar, all expenses paid. Why Madagascar? I have been dreaming of travelling to Madagascar for years now and it is about time. Why running? ’cause it is not fasting and I have a half decent change (perhaps) of winning.

From Warren today:

Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus. [Roughly, “without food and drink, your sex-life goes out the window.”]


Marcilius Cognatus … hath many stories … of such as after long
fasting have been seduced by devils; and “’tis a miraculous thing to
relate” (as Cardan writes) “what strange accidents proceed from
fasting; dreams, superstition, contempt of torments, desire of death,
prophecies, paradoxes, madness; fasting naturally prepares men to these
things.” Monks, anchorites, and the like, after much emptiness, become
melancholy, vertiginous, they think they hear strange noises, confer
with hobgoblins, devils, rivel up their bodies, saith Gregory, they
become bare skeletons, skin and bones…. Hilarion, Hierome reports in
his life, and Athanasius of Antonius, was so bare with fasting, “that
the skin did scarce stick to the bones; for want of vapours he could
not sleep, and for want of sleep became idleheaded, heard every night
infants cry, oxen low, wolves howl, lions roar” (as he thought),
“clattering of chains, strange voices, and the like illusions of
devils.” Such symptoms are common to those that fast long, are
solitary, given to contemplation, overmuch solitariness and meditation.

—Robert Burton, “Anatomy of Melancholy” III.i.4.2

Let me have men about me, that are fat,
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a-nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

—“Julius Caesar” I.2