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Sharing their love for food, water, sunlight

K. Santhosh



DISSIMILAR TASTES: Rappai and Hira Ratan Manek Photo: K. K. Najeeb

Thrissur: Champion eater Rappai smiled bemusedly when he met Hira Ratan Matek, who claims not to have eaten for the past 10 years.

Rappai met Hira Ratan Manek, who has reportedly survived on liquid nourishment and sunlight, at the Global Summit on Ayurveda that began here on Friday.

"How do you manage without food? Simply impossible for me," Mr. Rappayi told Mr. Manek.

Mr. Manek explained: "Sun-gazing is an alternative to eating . Every evening, I gaze at the sun for an hour without batting an eyelid. This is my main food. Occasionally, I drink coffee, tea or water." Mr. Manek reportedly gave up eating after a visit to the Himalayas in 1992.

His claim has been tested by medical experts and widely reported in the media. Mr. Manek fasted for 211 days in 1995-'96 under the supervision of C. K. Ramachandran, a physician, in Kozhikode. In 2000-'01, Mr. Manek fasted for 411 days in Ahmedabad, under the supervision of a team of 21 doctors and scientists from different parts of the world, led by Sudhir Shah.

In 2002, Mr. Manek was taken to Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he underwent a 130-day observation as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research programme to solve food storage and preservation problems during space expeditions. The scientists verified that Mr. Manek spent the entire period surviving only on water and named his technique, HRM (Hira Ratan Manek) phenomenon. Mr. Manek, who grew up in Kozhikode, is a graduate in engineering. He was involved in spice trade and shipping till he retired in 1992.

Mr. Rappai (`Theetta' Rappai) shot to fame after he took on a Thrissur hotel that offered an all-you-can-eat buffet. He polished off everything in the kitchen, and finally the hotel owners asked the police to intervene.

Since then, Mr. Rappai's presence has been the staple of eating competitions across the State. He has been the mascot of eating and good food, and many hotels in Thrissur display his photograph. His feats have won the attention of international media.

"'The next time Rappai's stomach starts rumbling, he would do well to consider a trip to Vegas, where for the all-you-can-eat buffets on the Strip are open round the clock," wrote The Scotsman.

Mr. Rappai can have 750 idlis or 25 kg. halwa, or drink 25 litres `pal payasam' at one go. At the end of it, he would say, "Still hungry!" "Good Lord! I can't be like this man," Mr. Rappai said, pointing to Mr. Manek. "How I can forgo those mouth-watering delicacies."

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