Monday, August 17, 2009

Reflections: The Man Who Ate The 747

J.J is the record keeper for the World's Book of Records, who has traveled far and wide to record and verify world records of all kinds being created and shattered by aspirants who wanted to immortalize themselves through a mention in the Book. JJ's life revolved around seeking such greatness - he'd witnessed men do the most grueling and incredulous things to achieve that greatness. Through every euphoria of a "record", J.J lived his dreams vicariously and chased his life in search of more greatness. Having been accused of not knowing anything about love, he races to a little farmland in Nebraska to verify and record the feat of a farmer named Wally eating a junked Jumbo Jet 747, to prove his hopeless love to the much sought after maiden, Willa. In this curious adventure, J.J learns quite a few lessons about the nature of love, and witnesses quite a few records being created - asides the eating of a Jumbo Jet.

Typical of me, my immediate thoughts when I read the first few chapters were of immense curiosity of people who seemed so invincible and crazy to attempt such things, when there were bigger concerns in the world. News reporters and TV broadcasters acting like greedy vultures swooping in to make the most of such a ludicrous thing, was quite saddening... the harsh realities of our world, to look for ways of making money and surviving. Then I shushed those thoughts away, for that wasn't what the book was aiming to convey. Through a very charming, sweet and predictable love story, the author folds in the message that great records and wonders are not created through the raw facts of statistics and timing. There can be many men who might come forward to eat plenty more 747s, but their "greatness" would fall flat in the light of a simple and good farmer who loved a woman so much that his depth of love drove him to endure anything. Such an unquantifiable measure of love and pristine goodness is a record, a wonder. They say the best things in life, cannot be seen, bought or measured. These aspects cannot be caught in a single moment, frozen with timing and numbers, nor can they be preserved in a physical space of glasses and security. They are to be experienced, and felt... only to be stored in the folds of our brain lobes in the form of tiny electrical signals or as chemicals filling in the synapses of our memory. And such a record, a deep impression despite not worthy of qualification in any Book of Records, is an indelible wonder within us.

The tale teases skeptics of "true love", who cast it off as a mere work of hormones and chemicals - surges in dopamine and oxytocin as nature's way of encouraging genetic intermingling. Through the book, I was reminded of the tale of the "Hunchback of Notre Dame". A physically deformed beast of a person falls hopelessly in love with a bewitchingly beautiful gypsy all because she offered him a few drops of water - the only gesture of love and kindness the world had ever bestowed on him. He goes on to furiously stand by his loyalty to the woman. But contrary to the classic, the book promises a happy ending with a very heartwarming message that makes you go down memory lane - to recognize, appreciate and thank all the wonderful records people created for you, in their own little ways.

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