One of the oddest stories that I read last year was about a man who downed 56 shots. From reports that appeared subsequently, it appears the man in his fifties had gone out drinking with his friends in a bar somewhere in France where the record was apparently 55 shots and standing. This unnamed man, apparently encouraged by onlookers, downed one after another shots of vodka, whisky and rum, 30 shots in only one minute. Then he went on to down the remaining 26. It is unclear if he was carried out of the bar to his home, but thereafter he fell into a coma and was taken to hospital and never came out of it; he died the following day. It’s a crazy way to go, and the police are apparently investigating if the bartender had any responsibility in this, by serving him drinks beyond reasonable limit. The bar manager has been quoted as saying the man was drinking “much too fast” and advised him to stop after the first 30. The daughter now says she would sue if there was negligence, and the police are exploring if the manager could be charged with “not assisting a person in danger”.
Till 2014, I had been under the impression that cheetah is the fastest in land. Now I stand disabused of that notion. Last year, they measured the speed of the land mite, from southern California, with the unpronounceable scientific name, Paratasotomus macropalpis. It can run 20 times faster than a cheetah but is “no bigger than a sesame seed”, at roughly 322 of its body lengths per second—the equivalent of a human running at 2,092 km per hour. A cheetah which can do 97 kmph does only 16 body lengths per second. The only thing between the mighty mite and the cheetah is Australian tiger beetle, which does 171 body lengths per second.
Focus came back to strange weddings this year when a woman in UK, Grace Gelder, proposed to herself and then married herself. Previously we have heard of stranger events, of women marrying buildings, cobras—even Aishwarya Rai was once famously rumoured to have married a tree—and women and men marrying dogs. A London woman married both her pet cats Spider and Lugosi, and in Copenhagen an animal rights activist reportedly married her pet horse. For Sharon Tendler, it was love at first sight when she saw Cindy the dolphin which she eventually married in an Israeli resort, as best dolphins escorted the groom swimmingly. A Sudanese man even married a goat he was in a relationship with and had to pay a dowry as well. A South Korean married a pillow, even. For most, it is a matter of companionship, but for some it is superstition as reportedly happened in Palpudupet when a couple of seven-year-old girls were married to frogs sometime in 2009. Thankfully at the end of the ceremony, the frogs were thrown back into the pond they came from. Grace, on the other hand, had had enough of the dating scene and after being single for six years, she took inspiration from a Bjork song, My name is Isobel, married to myself. She proposed to herself in a park bench, accepted the proposal and married herself in a rural farmhouse in Devon and when time came for the married couple to kiss, she kissed herself in the mirror.
Sudarshan is the author of Anatomy of an Abduction: How the Indian Hostages in Iraq Were Freed