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Guinness Book-crazy,or just crazy? That’s what the residents of Nirankari Colony in the north of Delhi wonder every time they see Guinness Rishi walk by with tattoos of 199 countries’ flags adorning his arms,legs,belly and newly bald pate.

Written by Shruti Ravindran |
July 3, 2010 4:13:51 am

There is a Guinness record hunter in Delhi’s Nirankari Colony and the latest is for tattooing 199 flags on his body

Guinness Book-crazy,or just crazy? That’s what the residents of Nirankari Colony in the north of Delhi wonder every time they see Guinness Rishi walk by with tattoos of 199 countries’ flags adorning his arms,legs,belly and newly bald pate. With indefatigable enthusiasm,every week,68-year-old Rishi leads his new friends — bemused foreign photographers and journalists who’ve dubbed him “the human flagpole”— up the narrow stairs to his flat,where he plies them with badam milk and copies of his new Guinness record certificate — “for the most tattooed flags on body” — and excitedly shares his forth-coming exploits.

The first of these took place two decades ago,when this auto parts dealer won a Guinness record for taking a non-stop 20,000-km trip around India on a Luna moped,an event he memorialised by changing his name from Harparkash to Guinness. He then attempted to break a host of records,including the world’s largest bra,the world’s longest will (in which he bequeathed every last record-themed artefact,such as Ripley’s plush toys and Guinness books,to his wife and sons). His wife Bimla gamely pitched in with the world’s shortest will (two words meaning “All to son”).

When emphysema left him toothless,Rishi capitalised on the occasion by stuffing 555 drinking straws into his mouth and breaking a record. More than breaking records,Rishi’s real strength lies in making up new,zany ones,such as records for the world’s fastest ketchup drinking,longest brick-carrying and the longest distance pizza delivery.

But crazy records inevitably find crazy people to beat them,as Rishi ruefully observes. “My pizza delivery record was beaten by someone who took one from England to New Zealand.” So,Rishi resolved to do something so spectacularly self-mutilating as tattooing his whole body “to make it tough for anybody to break my record”.

A recent open-heart surgery and a new urgent sense of his mortality have introduced newer,more ambitious plans. “I have been corresponding with Norm Deska of Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Orlando,US,for the past few years,” says Rishi,“as I want my body to be displayed in a glass box in their museum after my death,so thousands can see it. I realise this will take crores of rupees to maintain every month,but I think the expense is justified by educational tattoos which can universally appeal to children.” These include helpfully labelled flags and anti-terrorism messages in several languages,including Hebrew,Italian and Russian.

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