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Facts that fascinate

The `Believe it or not' series on the AXN channel that features people performing extraordinary feats conveys the message that courage and perseverance can help overcome the hurdles of life.

A MAN must not swallow more beliefs than he can digest. — Havelock Ellis. This is a cautious alert or a corollary of — "You can take it or leave it," in Ripley's `Believe it or Not.'

The AXN channel telecasts the famous Ripley's `Believe it or Not' series on Tuesdays between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. It comprises as it claims, unbelievable acts of adventure, unfathomable facts, sometimes eerie, sometimes bordering on absurdity, but sometimes gainfully inspiring too. Hosted by Dean Cain, this popular show can be broadly classified into those showmen who indulge in out-of-the-ordinary feats out of sheer necessity to earn a livelihood or perhaps for publicity. But, the extraordinary ways in which they cope with physical disabilities is truly inspiring.

Amazing facts had Austin Richards braving high voltage electricity passing through his person, Jon Baine plying the ultimate taxi and a robot (costing $ 2 million and two years to complete) modelled after dinosaurs breathing out fire, crushing steel and performing other incredible feats. The deafening round of applause they receive at the end of the performance makes all their sacrifices seem worthwhile. Then, there was the extraordinary feat in which Ben Sherill submits to being suspended in mid-air just by his skin, which is fastened to hooks. He is pulled in opposite directions by pulleys and is in great danger of being torn apart. Though he is suspended in this painful fashion for full 10 minutes, he is jubilant that his efforts to break new ground have succeeded. However, though one was awed by some of the events featured, one could not but help feel nauseated by Lance Oozamia, who used his spit as a painting medium for several pictures.

Seeing the world's largest cat on the screen was a delightful experience. Living in Scotland, Showbie is muscular and not chubby and is the biggest and fattest cat in the world. Measuring 3.5' length Showbie is twice the size of an average cat and weighs 36 lbs — three times that of the average, healthy feline. Though born normal, this colossal cat suddenly experienced a mysterious spurt in its growth till it reached its present mega size. The veterinarian has guaranteed the normal life span of 15 years for this pet too.

The most worthwhile event to watch was the daily activities of Barb Guerra who lives in Texas. She lost her two limbs in a personal tragedy but happily leads a life as normal as any one of us. Her parents repeatedly emphasised that being maimed in mind is only a disability and not a physical handicap. After her marriage to Mark Guerra, Barb proved that she could run a business and perform the daily household chores with unmatched ease and finesse. And it was indeed heartening to watch her lift bananas off the shelves in department stores and, even change her toddler's nappies ... all with her toes! There seemed to be no shortcoming in her beautiful world of wholesome love. I was at once reminded of the lovely quote: "I complained that I had no shoes until I saw a man with no feet." This show sets us thinking as to what we have achieved with our limbs intact. That results in self-introspection and hence such shows are worth viewing.

THARA MOHAN RAO

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