The curious case of the bizarre facekini strikes again! In case you don’t remember, it’s a nylon mask that covers the entire head, leaving holes only for the eyes, nostrils and mouth. The Chinese invention is meant to be used as beachwear, protecting wearers (mostly women) from sunburns and jellyfish stings. It first made an appearance in 2006, and the present “fourth-generation” avatar has managed to enter new levels of weirdness!
11-year-old child prodigy Tanishq Abraham is in the news for graduating from college with not one, not two, but three different degrees. The talented kid from California made headlines last year as well, for completing high school at the age of ten and earning a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama. And now, just a year later, he’s finished college with three associate degrees.
Last week’s graduation ceremony at the American River College in Sacramento was attended by Tanishq’s parents – his mother Taji, a vet, and his father Bijou, a software engineer. His sister Tiara, also a child prodigy, was present as well. They cheered for Tanishq as he was awarded associate degrees in math and physical sciences, general science, and language studies. He wore a rainbow colored scarf that his grandmother had knit specially for the occasion, and a cap with his favorite Toy Story-quote: ‘To Infinity and Beyond.”
If you think about it, logos are works of art too – they’re clever, well designed and come in a variety of colors. But are they appealing enough to tattoo on to your body? Well, for 23-year-old Indian tattoo artist Jason George, they are. The self-confessed ‘human billboard’, sports hundreds of tattooed logos of international companies that have impacted his life in some way.
“I know it seems insane but these tattoos are my way of giving thanks to the brands that have made an impact on my life,” said Jason, a college-dropout and founder of 21 Tattoo Studio in Mumbai. The logos inked all over his body include those of his favorite TV channel, mobile phone networks, fast food chains, and social networking sites. “All the logos that you will find on my body have a special place in my heart. They are related to my life in some way and I have memories and stories attached to these brands.”
Meet James Wannerton, an Englishman with an incredibly rare ability to taste sound. That might seem absurd, but it is very much a reality for people with a condition called synaesthesia, which causes senses that are usually separate to intermingle.
Even as a young boy, James always experienced an involuntary taste on his tongue every time he heard a sound. Hearing the name Anne Boleyn in History class, for example, gave him a strong flavor of pear drops. He associated most of the British monarchs with a specific taste, making it easy for him to remember facts and events. His word-taste associations always helped him do better in school.
As he grew older, James found that his unique ability helped him in other aspects of life too. His relationships were all too delicious – he chose his companions not because of their looks or personality, but based on how their names felt on his taste buds. His schoolmates often had a strong essence of sliced potatoes and strawberry jam, while his dates’ names tasted like slices of rhubarb and melted wine gums.
Meet Kalyanasundaram, an Indian librarian with a heart of gold. During his 35 years of service, he donated almost all the money he earned to orphanages and children’s welfare funds. Now that he is retired, Kalyanasundaram donates his entire pension to those who need it more than he. Although he has no material possessions to his name, he considers himself one of the richest people in the world.
The 73-year-old retiree, from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, started to think about helping the poor and underprivileged at a very young age. He lost his father at the age of one, and his mother struggled to raise him all by herself. As he grew older, his shrill, high-pitched voice troubled him to such an extent that he became depressed and suicidal. But his life turned around when he met a local motivational writer, who told him, “Don’t bother about how you speak. Strive to make others speak well about you.”
Kalyanasundaram took the advice seriously, and decided to dedicate his life to the service of others. The humble man insists that the reason he started helping people was to make himself happy.
We’ve seen lots of stories of kind people who adopt children, but this is a first – a Chilean woman who adopts dead babies! Fueled by the strong belief that every baby deserves a proper goodbye, she officially adopts abandoned babies that are found dead so she can organize funerals for them.
It all started 12 years ago when Bernarda Gallardo read a story in a local newspaper about an abandoned baby in Puerto Montt. “They killed and dumped a newborn baby on the rubbish heap,” the article read. Bernarda, who was in the process of adopting a child at the time, was horrified by the report. She realised if the baby had lived it might have come to her for adoption. So she decided to do something about it.
“If you get a baby that is alive, you clothe it and feed it and put it in a cot,” she explained. “If your baby arrives dead you have to get a coffin and give it a decent burial.”
Taxi driver Teng Jiazhi, from Shenyang city in north China, is probably the world’s greatest selfie enthusiast. He was taking photos of himself with his passengers long before selfies became a social phenomenon, simply as a way to brighten up their day. Fondly known as “Uncle Teng”, the friendly cab driver has amassed a collection of over 30,000 selfies in the last 5 years.
Teng revealed that he came up with the unique idea ten years ago, when he picked up a couple of tourists on a winter day. “They had been standing in the cold for more than an hour for a taxi,” he recalled. “When they got in my car, they kept thanking me and offered tips. But I could not take the extra money. Before they dropped off, they wanted to take a photo with me. The gratitude they had was very comforting and that photo was the first selfie I took with my passenger.”
Meet Priest Shinjiro Kumagai – mild mannered environmental artist by day, and real-life superhero by night. Dressed up as Japanese sci-fi TV hero Kamen Rider 1, his mission is to rid Kitakyushu city of drunk drivers.
Kumagai’s day job involves making statues out of old aluminium cans. When he’s done, he dons the grasshopper-inspired superhero suit, hops on to a Cyclone motorbike and hunts down drunk drivers. His nightly patrols are supported by the police, as shown by the armband identifying him as an official drunk-drive patrolman.
Even with the support of the police, being a superhero in real life can be an expensive affair. But Kumagai doesn’t have to worry about money – he is funded by local Buddhist Priest Fukumitsu, the head of the Gokurakuji temple. “He is a real fan of Kamen Rider 1 and has been collecting memorabilia for 20 years,” Kumagai said of his benefactor. “So when he heard about what I was doing, he jumped at the chance to help.”
Oratilwe Hlongwane, a.k.a. DJ AJ, has become a viral phenomenon in South Africa with a dedicated fan following of thousands. But here’s the twist – he’s actually a two-year-old kid! While he can barely speak, the incredibly talented toddler can work a DJ console like a pro.
AJ is so good at DJing that he has fans hankering after his heavy-bass house music. The record spinning toddler has made a few special appearances and also bagged sponsorship deals with various brands. His most recent performance was at a shopping mall in his hometown of Johannesburg, where a large crowd gathered to groove to his music.
AJ’s mother, Refiloe Marumo, attributes the boy’s astounding skills to his father Glen Hlongwane’s decision to buy him an iPad even before he was born. Glen, a gymnastics coach, wanted to use the iPad to download educational apps to speed up the kid’s education. Incidentally, he happens to be an aspiring DJ, so he also downloaded a DJ app for his own use.
U.S. Army veteran Kinessa Johnson, who served in Afghanistan for four years, has gone from protecting humans to protecting animals. She is the latest addition to VETPAW (Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife), an organisation that enlists retired veterans to hunt down wildlife poachers in East Africa.
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, rhinos, elephants, and other types of wildlife on the continent may become extinct within our lifetime. Which is why the work that Johnson and her fellow veterans are doing is immensely important. The team arrived in Tanzania on 26 March, and quickly got down to work: “We’re going over there to do some anti-poaching, kill some bad guys, and do some good,” Johnson said.
Johnson, a former sharp-shooter from Western Washington, works as a technical advisor to anti-poaching rangers. Her job is to train park rangers and patrol with them to provide support. The training will include marksmanship, field medicine, and counter-intelligence. “Our intention is not to harm anyone; we’re here to train park rangers so they can track and detain poachers and ultimately prevent poaching,” she said. “So I patrol routinely with them and also assist in intelligence operations.”
35-year-old Debbie Taylor loves cooking big meals for her boyfriend and teenage son. But when the time comes to sit down at the table and dig in, she just pulls out a packet of Beef-flavored Monster Munch crisps instead. In fact, that’s about all she’s been eating for the past decade!
Debbie, a hotel chambermaid in Harlow, Essex, is so paranoid about food that she actually takes a packet of crisps when she goes out to restaurants, and munches on them while her boyfriend Gerald indulges in a traditional meal. She takes them everywhere. For example, when the boyfriend took her and her son Luke for a holiday in Spain, she actually packed a separate suitcase full of Monster Munch for the trip!
“I’m not a fan of the cooked meal,” she wrote in a life and style experience article in The Guardian a few years ago. “I’m much happier with Monster Munch crisps – beef flavor; I wouldn’t touch pickled onion. When I open the bag, I check if they have enough beef coating on them; if it’s not enough, I’ll throw them away.”
In a bid to achieve a tiny waist, 25-year-old Aleira Avendano has been wearing a tight corset 23 hours a day, for the past six years. The result? She literally looks like an hourglass, with 34DD breasts, an enlarged derriere, and a shockingly slim 20-inch waist.
Aleira said that she began ‘waist’ training as a teenager. Her skinny core now attracts attention wherever she goes. “People stop what they’re doing and stare – everywhere I go I get attention,” she said. “People shout at me in the street – they can’t believe that figure is real.”
She does admit that wearing a corset was uncomfortable at first and it took her some time to get used to. But over time she got so used to it that her skin would start to itch when she took it off. And she says that she actually loves wearing it now. “I’m completely obsessed with belts and corsets – I even sleep with them on,” the busty Venezuelan model said.
For over four decades, Egyptian woman Sisa Abu Daooh was the sole breadwinner in her family, which is highly unusual for the patriarchal society she lives in. What’s more unusual is the way she did it – by dressing herself like a man! Now 64, Abu Daooh is being honored as the ‘ideal mother’ by the Social Solidarity Directorate of Luxor.
Sisa lost her husband when she 21 and pregnant. After the birth of her daughter, she was left with no money and no source of income, either. Since the local culture did not permit women at the workplace, she had no option but to dress like a man. Her disguise consisted of a ‘jilbab’ – a loose, full-length robe with wide sleeves – along with a white turban, or a men’s hat called ‘Taqiyah’, and black shoes.
When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant went into meltdown, after the devastating tsunami in 2011, most of the locals fled to overcrowded temporary shelters. So did Naoto Matsumura, but the brave man soon decided return to his home town of Tomioka, just to take care of the many animals left behind! And even though the radiation levels are dangerously high (17 times higher than normal) in this area, Matsumura says he isn’t going anywhere.
He now spends most of his time running a charity along with a few supporters, taking care of animals left behind in the evacuation zone. “I have two cats, one dog, one ostrich, one horse, 31 cows and four wild boars,” Matsumura proudly declared.
He started off by taking into his care the animals that were abandoned in his hometown. He described how most of the pets were still tied up, because locals had believed they would be back home soon. Matsumura took it upon himself to feed the animals every day. “They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck,” he recalled. “Everywhere I went there was always barking. Like, “we’re thirsty” or, “we don’t have any food.”
Jia Haixa and Jia Wenqi are the most unlikely pair of environmentalists we’ve ever come across. The former is blind, while the latter is a double-amputee. Yet, they’ve managed to use their symbiotic relationship to plant over 10,000 trees in the past decade.
Haixa and Wenqi began their beautiful partnership when they were unable to get jobs due to their impairments. They have now become each other’s eyes and hands, and taken on the task of transforming a three-hectare stretch of riverbank in Yeli village, in north China’s Hebei Province.
“I am his hands,” said Haixia. “He is my eyes. We are good partners.” The 53-year-old was born with congenital cataracts that blinded his left eye. Then, in 2000, he lost sight in his right eye as well after a work-related accident. Wenqi, on the other hand, lost both arms in an accident when he was only three years old.