Saturday, May 05, 2012

Indians and Guinness

As I’ve said before, the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” was not written keeping Indians in mind, and we shouldn’t make asses of ourselves by attempting to jump longer or higher, run faster or dive deeper. Leave such trivial and mundane pursuits to lesser mortals.

What we should try to do is get into the Guinness Book of records for such activities as growing the longest nails, sporting the longest nose hair or sitting in the same position for 26 years.

Take Guinness Rishi, described in this article. He recently tried to get into the books as the world’s worst-losing politician by garnering zero votes in a municipal election. Unfortunately, his wife played a trick on him and got some 30 people to vote for him, just to deprive him of the record. But his records include most continuous time riding a motor scooter (1,001 hours with two accomplices); producer of the world's smallest Koran, even though he's Hindu; fastest consumption of ketchup, though he said, "I hate ketchup"; and most flag tattoos on his body (officially 220, although he's added 146 since then), including several across his forehead, cheeks, chin.

Guinness Ravi, the article points out, epitomizes India’s obsession with Guinness records.
Although every country has its share of glory seekers, India has really taken to this particular form of chest thumping. Guinness says applications from India are up 178% over the last five years, making it the world's third-most active nation of wannabes, after the U.S. and Britain, with actual records up almost fourfold. Guinness has just appointed a Mumbai-based representative to manage the crowds of record seekers, with plans to open a full office next year.

Among recent Indian records: most consecutive yoga positions on a motorcycle (23), most Mohandas Gandhi look-alikes photographed (485), most earthworms swallowed (200), longest ear hair (7 inches).

Most earthworms swallowed? Why do Indians want to do bizarre things? 

"Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame," said Tharaileth Koshy Oommen, a sociologist at New Delhi's Schumacher Center for Development, a civic group. "People feel once they have world-level recognition, they'll get more recognition back home. It's a kind of anxiety."

But Guinness Ravi puts it honestly:

"I'm not tall enough, I'm not the best dressed, I don't wear the biggest turban to stand out in a crowd of millions," he said. "To be different and get recognized, I have little choice but to keep trying to break records, or else I'll be forgotten."

Somehow that seems to make sense.

No comments: