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.
The current record for eating the most cloves of raw garlic in a minute is 12. It sounds easy, but the catch is that you have to chew each individual clove and swallow it before you can put the next clove in your mouth. The first day I tried it, I rapidly consumed 4 cloves of garlic. It wasn’t that bad. My stomach was a little queasy, but I felt energized and, after few minutes and a few mints, I was good as new. I continued my training with the usual ups and downs. Besides a burning mouth and nausea, as you might suspect, halitosis was the main hurdle. It got so bad that the guys at the health food store started holding their noses whenever I came in to work!
There was a fun part to my practice. I became a walking testing ground for all the age-old folklore and health benefits attributed to garlic. For example, I decided that the theory that garlic keeps vampires away was correct – I hadn’t seen a single vampire since I started my training!
Actually, I suspect the vampire-garlic connection evolved from garlic’s legendary antibiotic qualities. And, I had to admit, the garlic was making me feel really good! Although it was July, I was living proof of the old folk rhyme, “Eat onions in March and garlic in May – then the rest of year, your doctor can play.”
Speaking of doctors, in the middle of my garlic training I went to my chiropractor who, alas, immediately noticed that I smelled of garlic. When I apologized, he kindly replied, “Oh, don’t worry about it, it’s a healthy smell!” (My editor, Pradhan, who happens to be a chiropractor, says he thinks I’m giving chiropractors a bad rap-there is no way “garlic” fragrance smells healthy!) Anyway, Dr. Wasserman was very excited about taking my blood pressure to see if my training had any effect. There is the notion that garlic helps lower cholesterol as well as blood pressure. Dr. Wasserman has been routinely testing my blood pressure which, due to the many stresses in my life (including breaking records!), has been high. Sure enough, the garlic seems to have worked. After 2 years of testing high, my blood pressure was 122/74 – close to perfect!
On the other hand, my research with another reported benefit of the “herbal wonder drug” did not have such positive results. Eating garlic is supposed to be a natural mosquito repellent. During my ill-fated samurai sword attempt, I often practiced outdoors in my backyard around dusk when the mosquitoes seem to appear of nowhere. Not only did the garlic not keep the critters away, it attracted them. I got eaten alive! The garlic odor was like the proverbial dinner bell advertising, “Here I am, come and get it!”
Anyway, back to the record. After 2 weeks of practice, I was ready to attempt the record at my favorite cafÃ©, the Panorama. With all the witnesses and cameras in place, I began the painful minute. Things were going well but, at around 30 seconds, the garlic was making me feel sick. My hands started shaking, my eyes began to water and I wondered if I was going to make it. I managed to hang on and, pending Guinness certification, broke the record by one clove. Everyone congratulated me and then I posed for photos with my friends. Daulot, joker that he is, was wearing a gas mask!
Since the record attempt, I’ve cut down to one or two cloves a day, but the breath problem persists. Someone once accurately said that, “there is no such thing as a little garlic!” I heard that eating parsley helps to combat the odor but, based on my experience, that is another myth that seems to be unfounded. The only thing that I found to work are mints, but their effect is short lasting. Even Shakespeare was aware of the problem. He advised, “Most dear actors, eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.” Hmm-maybe the great Bard of Avon was on to something. As long as I’m offending people anyway, maybe I should look into the Guinness record for onion eating!