Column: The world records that make me proud

Please excuse me while I show a little national pride. It’s not every day that I
get toBajpai
revel in the accomplishments of my countrymen. After all, India has won
just three medals in the last six Olympic Games, two bronze and one silver,
despite the Indian Olympic Association’s best efforts to find good athletes and
lure them to India.

So you can imagine my excitement when Mahdi Habib, a
loyal reader from Saudi Arabia, sent me an article about all the Indians who’ve
managed to get into the Guinness World Records book. According to the Associated
Press article
, India holds 219 Guinness records –- and some of them are quite
impressive. Radhakant Bajpai, for example, set a record by growing his ear hair
5.19 inches long. When I read about that, I pumped my fist in the air and
shouted, “Go India!”

As far as I know, no American or Russian has ever
come close to that feat, perhaps because they have other priorities, such as
attracting the opposite sex. But I choose to believe that many of them are
trying their best to grow their ear hair, applying Rogaine to their lobes
morning and night, dreaming of beating the great Radhakant Bajpai and becoming
“Ear Hair King of the World.”

Bajpai is quite proud of his hair. If you
ask him about it, he’ll give you an earful. "Making it to Guinness World Records
is indeed a special occasion for me and my family," he said, according to "God has been very kind to me." Unfortunately, God has
not been so kind to his two sons, Satyam and Anchal, leaving their disappointed
father with no hair apparent.

Bajpai’s achievement is certainly
impressive –- he’s the Tiger Woods of ear hair –- but so are the feats of other
Indians. Vadivelu Karunakaren is the fastest ever to skip 10 miles, doing it in
58 minutes in Chennai on Feb. 1, 1990. If there were a skipping Hall of Fame, he
would definitely be in it, along with a few kangaroos.

Arvind Morarbhai
Pandya, another Indian hero, ran 940 miles backwards in 26 days and seven hours.
That’s truly amazing. I’ve never tried running backwards, unless you count the
time I accidentally walked into the ladies room. (I probably set a record
myself: most red-faced Indian ever.)

Perhaps the most impressive Indian
record holder is a man named Guinness Rishi, who changed his first name from Har
Parkash after making it into the prestigious book. According to the AP article,
Rishi and two partners, Amarjeet Singh and Navjot Chadha, set a record for
longest non-stop team two-wheeler ride, keeping a motor scooter going for 1,001
hours, covering 19,241 miles. I really don’t know how they did it. Were they all
on the scooter at the same time? If so, how did they eat? How did they take
naps? How did they check their email?

Rishi, 66, says he has set more than a
dozen records, though the scooter record is the only one recognized by Guinness.
His feats include drinking a bottle of ketchup in 39 seconds, building a 64-inch
sugar cube tower, and adopting his 61-year-old brother-in-law. He has also
written the longest will in the world, while his wife, Bimla, has written the
shortest: “All to son.” (She left Rishi out of her will on purpose, helping him set a
record for longest scream.)

The AP article notes that nine countries,
including America, Britain, Germany and Australia, have set more Guinness
records than India. That may be true, but I’m sure none of those records are as
impressive as the Indian ones. I’m sure none of them involve ear hair.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Win my heart

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