70-year-old carries 305 country flags – on his body

Kathmandu, April 25: An Indian businessman has been carrying the flags of 305 countries on his own body to promote amity among nations. Now 70-year-old Har Prakash, who has re-invented himself as Guinness Rishi, is vying in Nepal for his latest world record, hoping to add more flags and more records.

“People call me a joker, a mad man,” says the world record aspirant from New Delhi who arrived in Kathmandu to attend the first international tattoo conference and promptly stole the limelight from other younger participants from different countries with more exotic tattoos.

“It doesn’t bother me.”

An auto parts manufacturer by profession, Guinness Rishi has two passions – tattoos and Guinness world records.

His 22 records include such singular feats as making the longest will in the world – a whopping 489 pages, delivering a pizza from New Delhi to San Francisco, and, of course, carrying the highest number of tattoos on his body.

These include 305 flags of different countries, 185 country maps, 165 mini flags and 2,985 characters.

“My dream is to go around the world several times,” Har Prakash said, sitting in the convention hall of the Yak and Yeti hotel while cameras click away furiously. “I want the children of those countries to ask me, where is the flag of our country, spot it and then, in the process, become aware of my country and other countries as well.”

While he is talking, Carlos Peres, a Venezuelan tourist, comes looking for him. Peres saw Rishi’s photograph in the papers and brought along his friend from Argentina so that both could hunt for their country’s flags on the Indian’s chest.

“There it is,” the Argentine cries in glee and they shake hands with Rishi, inviting him to visit their countries.

For such a serious tattoo record holder, Guinness Rishi started quite late: it was in 2009 when he saw someone sporting country flag tattoos and admired the effect.

He pays a tribute to Lokesh Verma, the 27-year-old founder of Devilz Tattooz, who etched out seven tattoos on his forehead: the flags of India, the US, the UK, Cyprus, Canada, the Congress party and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not logo.

It took nine months and Verma did it free when he realised the patriotic reason behind it, Rishi says.

However, his family reacted in an entirely different manner.

“My wife and sons told me they would never go to the market with me or family weddings,” he says, unrepentant. “But my customers loved the tattoos – because they got a chance to laugh at me.”

Rishi is now seeking to add a new tattoo record: have the maximum number of tattoo artists work on him.

“The record is held by an American who in 1996 had 22 artists work on him,” he says. “As a matter of fact, I did break the record in Pattaya last year when 25 artists etched 55 flags on me. But I was not familiar with the rules and forgot to make a video recording.”

This time, he has come armed and is asking the 52 tattoo stalls put up for the Kathmandu conference to send one artist each to doodle on him further.

However, while his forehead, head, arms, legs and chest are covered with tattoos, his back remains pristine clear.

“I am saving that for a dream project,” he says proudly. “It’s going to be the Hall of Fame for World Record holding tattoo artists. I will have all their names and achievements tattooed on my back.” By Sudeshna Sarkar