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The Amazing Story of the Suicidal Man Who Became India’s Famous Monkey Climber

Several years ago, young Jyothi Raj was a depressed man – he chose a rock and decided to climb it before plunging to his death. The huge rock presented a dilemma – there was no easy route to reach the top. But Jyothi Raj managed to scale it anyway, by observing and emulating the monkeys around him. And when he got to the top, he was rewarded with cheers and claps from passers-by who had observed his feat. He didn’t want to die anymore. Instead, he became India’s most famous monkey climber.

“A monkey is the world’s best climber. Humans came from monkeys. But I have it backwards. I’m turning into a monkey from being a human,” Jyothi said with a smile.

Jyothi Raj’s story is a rather sad one – he was born to a poor family in the state of Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Fearing punishment at the age of seven, he ran away from home to Bagalkot, in the nearby state of Karnataka, which he made his new home. “I don’t remember how I ended up here,” he said.

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What Is It with Wealthy Indian Men and Solid Gold Shirts?

When we wrote about Datta Phuge, an Indian businessman who owns a 3.2-kilogram solid gold shirt, we thought that his was a unique story. But it turns out there are other rich men in India obsessed with gold – like Pankaj Parakh, a businessman and local politician who celebrated his 45th birthday by gifting himself a 4-kilogram gold shirt worth over $200,000.

Pankaj is a textile magnate from the town of Yeola, near Mumbai city, who made his millions through his clothing empire. He now wants to make sure the rest of the world knows about his success. And what better way to flash his wealth than by wearing it? So he commissioned the solid gold shirt that he wore on the occasion of his birthday, last Friday.

The yellow metal shirt was designed by Bafna Jewellers in the nearby city of Nashik. The garment was then meticulously executed at Shanti Jewellers in Mumbai, by a team of 20 select artisans who spent 3,200 hours over the past two months ‘sewing’ the shirt.

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New Delhi Restaurant Run by Indian Convicts Proves Big Hit

Tihar Food Court, a new restaurant in New Delhi, serves its customers a regular fare of north Indian dishes – rice, flatbreads, lentils, samosas, and more. You’d probably get to eat these dishes at many other restaurants in India’s capital, but here’s what’s special about Tihar Food Court – the food is prepared and served by convicts serving time for murder at New Delhi’s infamous Tihar Jail.

The restaurant opened earlier this month within the sprawling Tihar complex – South Asia’s largest prison – as a rehabilitation effort on an experimental basis. It is a rather simple eatery with indoor and outdoor seating for around 50 customers, and cream colored walls decorated with paintings made by prisoners. The small staff consists of a manager who is also a police constable, and seven convicts who have displayed good behavior over several years of imprisonment.

To be eligible to leave prison for a few hours of work at the restaurant, inmates must have a high school education and need to have maintained an ‘unblemished’ record for at least 12 years. They mostly pick prisoners who are due to be released within two years time, so they don’t feel too tempted to escape. The inmates walk or ride a cycle to work everyday completely unsupervised, as the authorities apparently trust them enough not to provide an escort.

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The Indian Strongman Village Where All the Men Train to Become Bouncers

For centuries, farming was the main source of income for the people of Asola-Fatehpur Beri, twin villages in northern India. But in recent times, the men of Asola have managed to completely reinvent themselves – from poor farmers to strong, well-built bodyguards. Today, almost 90 percent of the men from the 50,000-strong village are employed as bouncers at night clubs in nearby cities like New Delhi.

“In this village, there is not a single boy who does not go to the gym,” said Vijay Pahelwan, head trainer at the local ‘akhada’, or gym. “All boys exercise. They are very careful towards their body. No one drinks and no one consumes tobacco.” Most boys take up wrestling at a very young age in the hopes of making it to the Olympics. But they always have the option of becoming a bouncer to fall back on.

Young wrestling student Keshav Tewar, for instance, spends most of his time at the gym. “No matter what other job I get when I grow up, I’m going to be a bouncer,” he said. “Bouncers have fit bodies and I want to make my body fit too.”

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Indian Man Claims He Can Help People Lose Weight with Ultrasounds He Emits from His Vocal Cords

A lot of people want to lose weight quite badly, but is there anyone desperate enough to try this Indian man’s weird technique? Jigar Shah, from the city of Ahmedabad, claims that he can induce weight loss in a person just by using his vocal cords to emit ultrasounds. He also says that he’s helped cure several people suffering from hypertension, depression, asthma, aches, kidney failure and even cancer, using the same technique.

According to Jigar, his vocal cords are capable of emitting ‘ultrasound’, which he describes on his website as a ‘very high frequency massage that can penetrate up to 5 inches below the skin’s surface’. Conveniently, the frequency is not audible to the human ear. So when Jigar opens his mouth and says that he’s emitting ultrasound waves, there is really no way to tell if he’s just pretending.

His website also tries to explain how the technique works: “Leaving the surrounding tissues untouched, ultrasound therapy for spot fat reduction and weight loss targets the fat layer of the skin, forcing fat cells to release triglycerides which are then processed by the body’s natural fat burning process. The empty fat cells shrink and are expelled as body tissue waste. The results are less fat in the treatment area with visible inch loss and reduction in body circumference.”

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Indian “Snake Man” Charms the World’s Deadliest Snakes

40-year-old wildlife conservationist Vava Suresh has a way with snakes. His life’s mission is to ‘love and guard’ even the most venomous of slithery creatures – he’s already rescued over 30,000 snakes so far. His unique talent and hobby have earned him the nickname ‘Snake Man’; people all over the South Indian state of Kerala summon his expert services when they want a snake safely removed from their homes.

Suresh, who was born into a poor family in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, has a completely different perception of snakes than most people. He says that they’re gentle, lovable creatures that need kindness and protection from humans. “Snakes are a part of my life since childhood,” he said.

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Color-Obsessed Real Estate Agent Surrounds Himself with Red and White

In a bid to make himself instantly recognizable, an Indian real estate agent has surrounded himself with the colors red and white. The man is so obsessed with these colors that they feature in all his clothes, in his car, and his home. He even buys his toothpaste in a red-and-white tube, with a toothbrush to match!

52-year-old Sevenraj, a real estate agent based in Bangalore, developed a fixation with red and white after he realized that it was a great gimmick to get people to notice him. His inspiration comes from Mahatma Gandhi, who was always clad in white. “Mahatma Gandhi is recognized by his glasses and bare torso with a white towel, so I had to do something similar to be recognized by one and all,” he said.

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You’re Not Really a Vegetarian Unless You’re Drinking Vegetarian Water

An Indian home appliance company recently introduced the idea of ‘vegetarian water’ in an ad campaign, to appeal to their predominantly vegetarian customer-base. It might seem absurd, but they’ve tried hard to make it sound convincing – they claim that their new product, the Prestige LifeStraw water purifier, ‘gives only pure and vegetarian water’.

“Pure vegetarian water? Must be an advertising gimmick!” the newspaper ad declares. And then it goes on to give reasons why it isn’t a gimmick. “Most purifiers claim to kill all viruses, bacteria and germs,” the ad reads. “But the chemically killed microorganisms remain in the water, making it safe, but effectively non-vegetarian.” Consuming dead creatures in your water, they imply, is against the principles of vegetarianism.

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Indian Man Has Been Living on Bread and Water for Four Years in Protest of the Government Stealing His Land

75-year-old Sukumaran Menon has been living on just bread and water for almost four years now. Every morning, the puny old man travels to the same bench outside of Mahatma Gandhi Park on M.G. Road, in Bangalore City, armed with only an umbrella, fasts in protest of the government stealing his land.

Once he is seated on the bench, Menon engages in ‘Samadhana Upavasa Satyagraha’ (peaceful fasting protest), which means that he goes without food or water from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. He doesn’t carry any banners or notices and doesn’t like having his photograph taken – he just sits there, hoping that one day, justice will be served. He blindly believes that his persistence will pay off, just like it did for his hero, Mahatma Gandhi.

“Like him, I will continue my protest until justice is done,” Menon declared. “I do not talk, the government should see my plight and talk.”

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Indian Man Has Been Walking Backwards for 25 Years to Achieve World Peace

For the past 25 years, Mani Manithan has been walking backwards in a bizarre bid to achieve world peace. He started in 1989, after a string of violent incidents in his home country India shocked him. Now he says that he’s gotten so used to it that he couldn’t walk straight even if he wanted to!

Manithan sells mobile phones for a living in Agraharam village, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Since June 14, 1989, he has been breaking various records in walking backwards – all in an effort to achieve world peace. One of his very first acts after taking his vow was to walk backwards 300 miles,  naked, all the way from his village to Chennai city.

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Blind Followers Keep Dead Cult Leader in a Freezer, Claim He Is Just Meditating

Swami Ashutosh Maharaj, a religious cult leader in India, was pronounced clinically dead, after doctors confirmed he died of heart disease. However, his followers are unwilling to accept the verdict. Instead, they claim that he’s simply meditating. They’ve put him in a freezer for now, and they say he’ll be returning to them soon.

Ashutosh Maharaj, over 70 years of age, was the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) in Jalandhar city, Punjab. On January 29, he complained of severe chest pain, and is believed to have suffered a heart attack. Dr. Harpal, who examined Ashutosh along with a team of doctors on February 3, said: “After several check-ups, including an ECG test, the team concluded that Ashutosh is clinically dead.”

But his disciples have yet to be convinced. They insist that he is in a deep state of meditation, called ‘samadhi’. So he has been kept ‘spiritually alive’ on the sprawling, 100-acre DJJS premises, in a commercial freezer. “Maharaj has been in deep meditation,” said one of his followers. “He has spent many years meditating in subzero temperatures in the Himalayas, there is nothing unusual about it. He will return to life as soon as he feels, and we will ensure that his body is preserved until then.

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Indians Fight Public Urination by Attacking Offenders with Water Canons

At first glance, you might mistake this large yellow tanker fitted with hoses for a fire engine. But look closer at the symbols painted on the sides, and you’ll realize that this water truck is meant to serve a different purpose. It’s called the ‘Pissing Tanker’ and it is currently roaming the streets of Mumbai, India. Its goal – to fight public urination with public urination. Well, sort of. The truck is actually full of water, but the message is pretty clear – Urinate in public and get pissed on yourself.

The idea is really quite simple an eye for an eye. I say that’s brilliant, because years of campaigns to stop public urination in India have never really had much success. Re-painting the walls, putting up sign boards, setting up public urinals, collecting large fines, and even the threat of police arrests have never worked – Indian men just aren’t able to shake the habit (pun very much intended).

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India’s Controversial Baby Farms and the Poor Women Renting Their Wombs to Wealthy Foreigners

Paying a woman to carry a child is illegal in Australia, the UK, and several other countries. Even where it is allowed, it costs and arm and a leg. And that’s why commercial surrogacy is a thriving business in India. Infertile couples all over the world are now looking to Indian women to help them have their babies. Indian surrogacy clinics provide an economical alternative for childless couples and in return, the money that these surrogate mothers from poor backgrounds receive is helping them build their life. It’s a win-win situation really, if you choose to look at it that way.

Akanksha Infertility Clinic, located in the small town of Anand in Gujarat State, is one of the top places for commercial surrogacy in India. A surrogacy package here costs about $30,000, from which about $8,000 is given to the surrogate. Given that over one-third of the Indian population is extremely poor, there are plenty of women more than willing to bear children for others. The clinic has been in operation for the past 10 years, and over 700 surrogate babies have been delivered there so far. All the money earned from these treatments has hugely impacted the economic situation of the town and its surrounding areas.

30-year-old Neeta Makwara, who lives in the nearby village of Nadiad, has gone through surrogacy twice. In 2008, she gave birth to a baby boy for a foreign couple. And she had twins again in 2011. The first time around, her husband squandered all the money from the treatment. But Neeta was wiser the second time – she used the money to build a three-storey house. She’s even rented out the ground floor, so that earns her a bit of cash every month.

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Woman Who Has Never Eaten Solid Food Lives off Milk, Tea and Water

Manju Dharra, a 25-year-old Indian woman, hasn’t had a bite to eat since she was born. For the past two-and-a-half decades she has been surviving on a liquid diet consisting of milk, tea, buttermilk and water.

Manju is from a small town called Sonipat, located near India’s capital, New Delhi. She suffers from a rare condition called achalasia – a failure of smooth muscle fibers to relax. Because of this, the cardiac sphincter muscle (that closes the opening from the gullet to the stomach to prevent acid reflux) does not open at all. So food cannot pass into the stomach and the gullet is blocked. The result – violent vomiting if she ever tries to eat anything solid.

“If I eat something then I throw up and I feel very, very bad. Now I feel fear when I look at solid food,” said Manju. Her mother, Bhagwati Dharra, added: “She only takes fluids like milk, tea, water, and sometimes juice. Mostly she takes milk, tea, buttermilk, water. If she eats solid food, she faces the problem of vomiting suddenly.”

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Narayanan Krishnan – The Selfless Hero Helping India’s Helpless

Hero is a very strong word, but it fits 34-year-old Narayanan Krishnan perfectly. During the last 12 years, he has served over 1.5 million meals to India’s homeless, mostly people abandoned by their families, either suffering from mental conditions or too old to care for themselves.

Back in 2002, young  Narayanan Krishnan was already an award-winning chef working in a high-class restaurant for the prestigious Taj Hotels, and close to securing a job with another 5-star hotel, in Switzerland. Just before heading off to Europe, he traveled to his home town of Madurai, to visit his parents, where witnessed a scene that changed the course of his life forever. “I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan told CNN. “It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime.”

Although he was a Brahmin – an upper class Hindu – destined for a successful career as a chef, Narayanan decided to give it all up and dedicate his life to helping those who couldn’t help themselves. Shaken by the scene he has witnessed in Madurai, he quit his job within a week, convinced his destiny wasn’t to cook elaborate dishes for the rich and famous, but provide sustenance to those who needed it most. “That night I thought, what am I doing? I am selling a plate of fried rice for ten dollars in my hotel where people come and have food for fantasy, fun, joy and recreation. Not for hunger. They eat only half portion of it and leave half of in the plate. It was a spark, a very powerful spark that I had,” the young chef said about the event that made him what he is today.

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