Friday, June 19, 2020

200 & Beyond

Its a Saturday morning and my phone rings. On the line is Ashrita Furman asking me, if I might be available to help video tape for him, a potential new Guinness record that he is about to attempt.
It is all very low key, and he suggests that if at all else it would be a good practice. He tells me the record he is attempting today will be for the most revolutions of the (11 1/2 foot inside diameter) hula in one minute. Let's just say I am out the door in a flash.
The question than comes up, as to where to attempt the record, and the not so simple question of how to get the 11 1/2 hula and Ashrita, to this place. What is decided initially, is to simply walk over to Flushing Meadow where the 10 day race is being held and also where Ashrita set a previous record with a giant hula in July of 2005
Vinaya, who is often one of Ashrita's helpers suggests, "maybe there is a record for carrying a 11 1/2 foot hula."

The reality is that it is something like 3 miles to get there. We walk for awhile along the pleasant Jamaica streets and it is decided to try a location much closer. In fact we stop at a small parking lot of a pre-school, just across the street from the Panorama coffee shop. A place where Ashrita has already set some 8 Guinness records.
Like lemon eating.

The atmosphere has been understated, but I am curious as to which number, this record might be, as Ashrita has done so many over the past few years. I am astonished when he tells me that this will be, if he is successful, his 200th. His first was in July 79 and it took him to the summer of 2005 in England to reach 100 Guinness records. Now in just 3 years he is on the verge of 200.

The record for revolutions of this size Hula is 61. He thought he broke the record 2 years ago in Vermont but did not realize at the time that his effort was not within the strict rules set by Guinness.

When you watch this video you can count the revolutions. What you might not hear is a small boy shooting out with joy at about 20 seconds and saying, "wow cool." There will also be a crashing sound as the Hula hits a metal pole at both 53 and 59 seconds slowing it down.
To observe one of Ashrita's record is an unbelievable experience. His concentration and focus are extraordinary. If you click on the pictures you can also see the amazing effort that went into it as well.
When he hears the one minute count and he finishes, he is elated, it appears that he has set a new record by 5, totaling 66. He tells everyone present that he is offering this record to his teacher, Sri Chinmoy. He gasps a bit and says, "that was incredible, it has taken us 2 years to break this record." He speaks intimately about his gratitude to Sri Chinmoy. He concludes with, "Thankyou for your inspiration and teaching me the path of Self-transcendence."
All those who are witnessing the event cheer. Vinaya, who has been counting says, "how is that possible, 36 in 30 seconds." In previous practice the most he had done was 33 and the total revolutions as well was always less than the record, at 61
Now the job of verifying the number begins. A look at the video tape outdoors is not satisfactory, so the team reassembles in Ketan's cafe across the street.
As Ashrita, Bikshuni, and Vinaya check and recheck the tape for accuracy,I talk to Ketan, the proprietor of the Panorama cafe. He has helped with many of Ashrita's records over the years. This will be the 9th either within or near his premises. He tells me, of Ashrita, "He is a huge part of my life. He is an extremely inspiring and encouraging friend." He describes his gratitude and being able to help in any way with these phenomenal records.

After checking and rechecking the tape the number of revolutions is confirmed at 66. He describes breaking this record as, "It has been a journey." Bikshuni is so pleased and says, "this is my first record."
Ashrita also has the record for the most records and currently has 81 still existing records. When I ask what happens now, after just setting his 200th record, he tells me, "we just keep going."

I must begin my life
Once again
By dreaming the impossible.
— Sri Chinmoy

1 comment:

Ed Silverton said...

Dear Ashrita,
You are a perfect example of Sri Chinmoy's teaching of self-transcendence. This subject you have taken to heart and made your own for all to enjoy. In your life's record-breaking activities, quality and quantity joyfully play together. As such, your name itself is an inspiration to many. Roll on 201!