BANGALORE: Spelling the word ‘Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia’ could stump many, but not 25-year-old Guinness Book record holder Mr Shishir Hathwar, who can not only do it without batting an eyelid but in the reverse order as well.
It is not just this word (which means fear of long words) he can rattle off, but a number of others including ‘grotesqueness.’ Bangalore-based Mr Hatwar, an electronics engineer at BHEL, clinched the world record this week for the “fastest backward spelling of 50 words” in one minute 22.53 seconds, beating the record of Job Pottas from Kerala who clocked one minute 40.14 seconds in March 2010. The earlier record was held by Ms Deborah Prebble from UK
(two min 21 seconds).
Mr Shishir won by a comfortable margin of over 17 seconds when he spelt 50 randomly chosen words, including 20 six-letter words, 15 seven-letter words and 15 eight-letter words. The time included that taken by a person to read out the words and spell them backward. “I took just 1.6 seconds per word including the time taken to read out the word,” said Mr Shishir, who was asked to spell out words chosen from a variety of fields, including literature, arts and science. The words he spelt out backwards during the event included ‘desolate,’ ‘lavish,’ ‘pharynx,’ ‘excavate’ and ‘fragrant.’
A voracious reader, Mr Shishir took to the habit from age two. “I started reading story books when I was just two, when many children my age were still struggling with spellings.” “It is a God-given gift,” he says. He also attributes his success to the environment provided by his parents, his reading habit and out of the box thinking. Honing visualisation techniques to an extreme degree also aided in training his mind to achieve the goal.
Asked how he felt about the record, he said, “Exultant, considering that English is not my mother tongue.” Mr Shishir can also read and write Kannada, Hindi and Sanskrit and speak Tulu. It was a You Tube clip of Pottas breaking the record that got him started on the idea he could attempt a similar feat.