Guinness World Records
“Okay, let’s take this nice and slow and no one will get hurt. Put the sword on the ground and back away.”
The policeman was shouting out his orders and he was quite serious. I suddenly realized that I probably shouldn’t have been cutting apples on the sidewalk in front of my friend’s restaurant in Flushing, Queens -- with my samurai sword! But the Daily News photographer didn’t think anything was unusual, and I was having so much fun doing the demonstration that I never imagined that it might be considered dangerous (and pretty stupid)! Read more....
I love dogs…tail-wagging dogs, rub-my-belly-please dogs, enthusiastic dogs, loyal dogs, always-willing-to-please dogs. Some of my blog readers may recall that I once broke the record for the most jumps on a pogo stick in a minute while holding a cute dog named Suki in one arm, in front of Scotland’s famous Greyfriars Bobby dog statue.
During a recent trip to Vermont to attempt a stilt-climbing record attempt up Mount Equinox, I was delighted to see a sign in our motel’s lobby:
Dogs are welcome in this motel. We never had a dog smoke in bed and set fire to the blankets. We never had a dog who stole our towels or played the TV too loud. We never had a dog that got drunk and broke up the furniture or punched holes in the walls. So, if your dog can vouch for you, you are welcome too.
And sure enough, the next day, I met a super energetic Cocker Spaniel in the parking lot who had obviously vouched for his owners!
Anyway, I gave that introduction about dogs just so when you heard about my latest record you wouldn’t think I was totally crazy! When the 2009 Guinness Book came out in September, a new category caught my attention: catching the most Maltesers in a minute in your mouth thrown from 15 feet away. (Maltesers are the British version of chocolate covered maltballs.) This record seemed quite beatable because my friend Bipin and I hold a similar record for the most grapes caught in a minute. But, to make it more challenging, I instantly decided to attempt this record with a dog on my back! Read more....
My spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy, is a relentless advocate for newness, always seeking fresh and creative ways to express joy and aspiration. For me, this inspires me to look for new and different types of Guinness records, sometimes beyond the fitness categories (star jumps, sit-ups, etc.). Lately, I've made a few forays into categories that have led to some interesting failures:
Category: Slicing apples mid-air with a samurai sword. Result: A sliced finger and, somehow, I managed to stab myself in the stomach.
Category: Continuous rotations on a giant gyroscope. Result: After 10 minutes, I had to quit for fear of losing my lunch. (I later realized eating an entire package of Swiss cheese just before the practice was probably not a wise thing to do!)
Category: Smashing watermelons with my forehead. Result: One bruised forehead, a giant headache and not a single smashed watermelon!
Fortunately, Sri Chinmoy would always remind me that failures are the pillars of success. "Never give up!" is one of his favorite mantras. After some more experimentation, I finally discovered my talent for eating garlic! As the manager of a health food store, I've learned of the great health benefits of garlic, but shied away from it because of the odor issues. I have to talk to people all day and I don't want to torture them with garlic breath. There is an old New York saying, "Three nickels will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat"! Anyway, I decided to throw caution to the wind and look into breaking the garlic eating record. Read more....
"There is only one dream that will always be perfect in your lifetime.
And that is the dream of self-transcendence." Sri Chinmoy
Every year, friends of mine put on an event in Munich, Germany called the Impossibility-Challenger games. Impossibility-Challenger is dedicated to self-transcendence in the purest sense. The event is always packed full of energy and inspiration and I love its diversity. Imagine amazing feats of strength and daring: strongmen pulling cars with their teeth, brave souls juggling chain saws and shot puts, martial artists breaking blocks of ice-everyone testing the limits of their talents. One creative fellow even rode a bicycle backwards for a considerable distance while playing his violin! Plus, it has a very special impact on me personally: compared to everyone else, I seem almost normal! Anyway, I decided to participate and attempt a stilt running record. And I figured, since I was going to Germany, why not make a "European Tour" of it with a stop in Italy?
The plan: attempt a record in front of the Colliseum in Rome; then, take a train up to the lake region and visit my Italian friend Priyadarshan for a few days; finally, fly into Munich for the Impossiblity-Challenger games.
I arrived in Rome in late March. I hoped to break the record for the most jumps on a pogo stick in a minute. The current record was 234 jumps. This amounts to almost 4 jumps per second so the conditions have to be ideal. Read more....
New Yorkers enjoy a reputation for not being the friendliest or the most helpful people, but my experience while recently training for the car-pushing record was just the opposite. In fact, I was amazed at how kind my fellow New Yorkers could be!
The record for car-pushing by an individual is 12 miles. The car has to weigh a minimum of 1609 pounds. The engine cannot be running and a person must sit in the driver's seat to steer. I was practicing with a friend's Ford Festiva (which weighs about 1850 pounds) around a ½ mile loop along streets of Howard Beach, Queens. Guinness requires you to push the car on a loop to eliminate any possibility (and advantages) of a downhill course. On a loop, whatever respite you get from the downhills, you eventually pay for on the corresponding uphills! It's called the law of car-pusher's karma!
I chose the Howard Beach course because it was relatively flat, and somewhat quiet. I spent several happy afternoons huffing and puffing, while car-pushing along my Howard Beach neighborhood loop. The neighbors clearly got a kick out of it. Once they discovered what I was doing, they contributed their own funny comments. One neighbor noticed that the car had Ontario license plates. "Hey, don't tell me you pushed that thing all the way from Canada!" And another comedian yelled out, "You're a genius. What a great way to save on the cost of gas!" Read more....
One of the real joys for me in breaking records and sharing my experiences is that hopefully it inspires others to go beyond their own capacities and travel into the realm of "self-transcendence." Of course, any transcendence requires appropriate training. With extreme events, you'll often hear, "Don't try this at home." Well, this record attempt is one of those!
There are many members of my meditation group who are medical doctors. Most of them are amused when they hear about my Guinness records, but some of my doctor-friends express genuine concern for my health and safety. One pediatrician in particular-Garima (from San Francisco) -always laughs when I tell her about my Guinness exploits, and she usually follows with, "Don't overdo it and be careful of those knees!"
A few months ago, Garima was visiting New York when I was actively training for an unusual record-drinking the most tobasco sauce in 30 seconds. When I told her about it, I expected her usual chuckle. Instead, a worried look came over her face. I assured her that tobasco sauce drinking was harmless and that I had just recently drunk 2 bottles of the stuff with no ill effects.
The good doctor wasn't buying it. If I wanted an eating challenge she suggested I practice for the onion or garlic eating records (although I might lose a few friends in the process!) She insisted that chugging tobasco sauce was dangerous because if the tobasco sauce went down the "wrong tube" my lungs could spasm and cause me to suffocate! She was serious and I remembered that the Guinness guidelines for the tobasco record stipulate that a qualified physician has to be present at the attempt. Now I understood why. Read more....
"Carpe diem!" Or in plain English, "seize the day!" Life is short and every moment is precious. Each time I hear Horace's immortal phrase, I am infused with energy. It is in perfect harmony with Sri Chinmoy's philosophy: "To expedite your God-realisation-journey, you must take full advantage of every opportunity that knocks at your heart-door." Recently, I was presented with a unique opportunity to seize the day and attempt a world record.
I love animals and get special joy incorporating them into my record attempts. One of my all time favorites was the record for the most jumps on a pogostick in a minute. And what made it so special was that I was holding a dog with one arm during the event! When Suki, my dog partner, and I performed the record, I was concerned that she might get uncomfortable. However, Suki was fine and seemed to thrive on all the TV cameras and attention. In fact, you might say she turned out to be a media hound!
For a long time now I've wanted to do a record with a bird perched on my shoulder. Fast forward to the Dominican Republic where I was on vacation this past December. The local zoo brought animals to the hotel beaches so tourists could pose with them while having their photos taken. One day they brought a monkey, another day a lizard and, on yet on another day, they brought an exquisite Macaw. About an hour after seeing the large parrot, it hit me. "Carpe diem!" Here was opportunity knocking at my door! I was already training for the record for the fastest time to walk a mile while hula hooping and I could attempt the record while balancing the Macaw on my shoulder! The trained bird was accustomed to sitting on strangers' shoulders so-why not?! Read more....
It's hard to imagine that good grooming could almost ruin a record attempt, but it actually happened to me a few days ago!
I was in the Dominican Republic on retreat with my meditation group and I decided to attempt the record for walking the fastest mile while spinning a hula hoop around the waist and simultaneously balancing a full pint milk bottle on the head. The bottle must remain balanced for the entire mile, and cannot be touched in any way to adjust it. I admit, the record is crazy, but I love it. It actually requires tremendous concentration to keep the bottle balanced, especially while bystanders are laughing at you and traffic is whirring by!
After a few practices, I was ready to attempt the record on the road in front of my hotel. A certified surveyor measured the course and, with the witnesses and camera crew standing by, I began a practice hula-balance warm up. With the hula hoop spinning, I placed the bottle on my head and, to my surprise, within 3 steps, the bottle slid right off! "It has to be a fluke," I thought so I tried it again but, sure enough, that thing just wouldn't stay balanced on my head.
It just didn't make any sense. Only 2 days earlier, I had done a quarter mile trial run. When the bottle fell off my head and hit the ground, I knew that it was because I had lost my concentration. Amazingly, the bottle didn't break, so here I was, two days later, using the same bottle, yet no matter how much I tried, I simply could not keep the bottle balanced on my head. What was different? Suddenly, the answer dawned on me. The culprit was the hairdresser! Read more....
About 2 months ago, I got the inspiration to break the world record for the "orange nose push mile." The record is for pushing an orange over a distance of one mile, with your nose! I actually held this record but, since nobody had broken it in a few years, I decided to go after it myself.
Having already done this, I knew it wouldn't be easy. "Orange nose smack" would actually be a more appropriate name! While on your hands and knees, you smack the orange with your nose as hard as you can. Then you jump up, chase after the orange, fall back to your hands and knees and repeat the process all over again. I covered a mile like this in 24 minutes and 36 seconds. Like many Guinness records, it looks silly, but it actually requires a lot of concentration, technique and fitness. And it can be painful too. During one training session, I noticed my orange was turning red. It took me a few moments to realize that the red substance on the orange was my own blood!
Anyway, my practices were going well, so I began looking for a venue to break the record. I needed a place with a smooth floor because, the smoother the floor, the faster and longer the orange rolls. I had originally set the record at Terminal 4 at JFK airport in New York, where the tile surface was superb. I have especially fond memories of that place since Sri Chinmoy personally visited the terminal while I was attempting the record, and I recall being so happy and inspired to see my teacher. With each lap, when I passed Sri Chinmoy, I would try to be extra soulful, a task that was made humorously difficult because every time I hit the orange I involuntarily let out a loud grunt! Read more....
Well, we did it and we had a blast! A bunch of guys from about 15 countries spent 2 weeks building the world's largest pencil. It wasn't easy. We had to make the pencil to scale, it had to look precisely like a normal pencil and it had to be made out of exactly the same materials. We used over 8,000 board feet of wood, 4,500 pounds of 10-inch graphite, which ran the length of the 76-foot pencil, and we even manufactured a 250-pound eraser. It took our two main carpenters a full day to sharpen the point of the pencil using a Sawzall, axes, and a grinding machine!
The pencil was designed to commemorate Sri Chinmoy's 76th birthday. Sri Chinmoy is a highly prolific writer and artist, so we thought presenting him with a giant writing instrument would be appropriate. About 10 years ago, we built a 20-foot pencil for Sri Chinmoy, but, a few years later, the European pencil company, Faber-Castell, constructed a 64-foot pencil to erase (pardon the pun) our record. I wouldn't have thought of getting the record back except, this past December, I happened to meet the renowned Count Faber-Castell at a vacation resort in Turkey. We became friendly and I mentioned that I had the hope of someday regaining the pencil record. He suddenly became very serious and retorted, "Impossible, you'll never do it!" That was a challenge I just couldn't ignore! Read more....