By Dev Nadkarni
Population: one billion. Teams that qualify for World Cup soccer: zero; Olympic gold hopes: zero. Teams that compete creditably in any world-level global event: zero. Long on quantity, very, very short on quality –that’s the lot of us Indians when it comes to our international competitiveness. Especially in team games. We are a country of individualists. We’re not known for teams. There is any number of apocryphal tales of Indians working more in individual interest than for their teams. The famous story of the tub of Indian crabs graphically epitomises this trait.
No matter. The natural individualists that we are, Indians show a strong trait to excel in individual sport, often of the self-created variety. So, we hold world records for things like walking backwards the greatest distance balancing a milk bottle on one’s head. Or for the longest (and perhaps the grubbiest) fingernails. Or even the longest locks of hair and moustache! There’s a scramble among Indians to set world records in such pursuits and the Guinness people count India as one of the countries from where it receives most applications.
We should really have an Indian book of trivial records. Records that are impossible to be bettered by any international team or individual worth his salt. Records that other countries dare not, let alone compete, but even contemplate. Not a problem finding entries and entrants. Just look around you. There’s a Mumbai cabbie that cuts more lanes in a day than Lata Mangeshkar has cut records in her entire life. And for the record, he’s never had an accident –all thanks to his record brake!
The longest it has taken an arrow to traverse a distance of twenty metres and yet managed to kill its victim is one whole minute (the victim probably died of waiting). That was in Doordarshan’s Ramayan. Which means the arrow crawled at about 1.2 kmph –slightly faster than South Mumbai’s peak hour traffic. The Indian politician has the unique record of breaking more promises than he makes. This he achieves by breaking all his own promises as well as those made by his colleagues by not cooperating with them (remember, we are individualists).
Game for some more? A few general polls ago I remember having read of a guy who voted under 13 different names in the same poll booth –and it was not even a captured booth. For the record, this happened in Mumbai, not Patna. Patna, of course, holds the record not just for captured poll booths but also carjacked car dealerships. Our very own Maharashtra, the beacon of progress, is not far behind in creating its own dubious world records. It will soon have the record of mass kidnapping elected representatives in the noble interests of the state’s well being.
Try adding to this list of dubious Indian world records –you’ll never find a dull moment compiling it!