Surreal Estate: Sixty-two percent of the 12 million people of Mumbai, India, live in slums, but the city is also home to Mukesh Ambani’s 27-story private residence (37,000 square feet, 600 employees serving a family of five), reported to cost about $1 billion. According to an October New York Times dispatch, there are “terraces upon terraces,” “four-story hanging gardens,” “airborne swimming pools,” and a room where “artificial weather” can be created. Ambani and his brother inherited their father’s textile-exporting juggernaut but notoriously spend much of their time in intra-family feuding. A local domestic worker told the Times (after noting that both she and Ambani are “human being(s)”) that she has difficulty understanding why the Ambanis have so much while she struggles on the equivalent of $90 a month.
Can’t Possibly Be True Stacey Herald, 36, of Dry Ridge, Ky., is 28 inches tall, with a rare condition called Osteogenisis Imperfecta, which causes brittle bones and underdeveloped organs — provoking doctors’ warnings that childbirth could cause the fetus to crush Stacey’s lungs and heart (and produce a baby susceptible for life to broken legs and arms). However, to the delight of husband Wil, 27 (and 69 inches tall), Stacey recently gave birth to baby No. 3 and promised more. The middle child, 2, without OI, is already a foot taller than Stacey, but the other two are afflicted, with the recent one (according to a July ABC News report) 5 inches long at birth, weighing 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
Prolific: (1) In October, police arrested a man arriving at the Madras, India, airport from Sri Lanka, bringing precious stones into the country in his stomach. After employing laxatives, police recovered 2,080 diamonds. (2) William Wright, 54, was arrested in St. Petersburg, Fla., in October and charged with using a hidden camera in a ladies’ room to photograph a young girl. Charges are still pending from 2009 when police said Wright had taken “upskirt” photos of more than 2,300 women.
Last Words (1) Ms. Rajini Narayan’s lawyer told the court in Adelaide, Australia, in September that she killed her husband by accident after intending only to torch his penis for alleged infidelities. The lawyer said she might have lost control of the gasoline she was holding when her husband said, “No, you won’t (burn me), you fat dumb bitch.” (2) In May, when a fox terrier answered a call of nature in the yard of notoriously lawn-fastidious Charles Clements, 69, in Chicago, Clements confronted the dog’s 23-year-old owner. That led to mutual bravado, which continued even after Clements pulled a gun. The dog-walker was killed immediately after shouting (according to witnesses), “Next time you pull out a pistol, why don’t you use it.”
Inexplicable Convicted sex offender David Parkhurst, 27, was arrested in October in Palm Bay, Fla., and charged with sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl. According to police, when they asked her about any “physical characteristics” of Parkhurst’s body so that they could substantiate her story, she said only that he had a “Superman-shaped shield” implant on his genitals (which was later verified).
Unclear on the Concept Acting on a citizen complaint, officials in Plymouth, England, ruled in October that Army cadets (ages 12 to 18), who practice precision drills with their rifles, could not handle them during the public parade on Britain’s Remembrance Day (Veterans Day). Officials said they did not want to be “glamorizing” guns.
• In June, the roller coaster at the Funtown Splashtown in Saco, Maine, unexpectedly came to a halt, stranding riders for all of 15 minutes. A reportedly “furious” Eric and Tiffany Dillingham said later that their 8-year-old daughter was so frightened that she had to be taken to a hospital and had nightmares constantly since then. (Since the purpose of a roller coaster is to induce fright, it was not known whether the girl would also have required a hospital visit if the ride had been working perfectly.)
More Things to Worry About Clownmania: (1) Performers in New York’s traveling Bindlestiff Family Cirkus protested in October against political campaign language referring to Washington, D.C., as a “circus. Said Kinko the Clown, “Before you call anyone in Washington a clown, consider how hard a clown works.” (2) “Tiririca” (“Grumpy”), a professional clown, was elected by resounding vote to the Brazilian Congress from Sao Paulo in October under the slogan “It Can’t Get Any Worse.” (3) In June, Britain’s traveling John Lawson’s Circus announced a series of counseling sessions for people who avoid circuses for fear of clowns. “Coulrophobia” is reportedly Britain’s third-leading phobia, after spiders and needles.
Least Competent Criminals Recurring Themes: (1) John Stolarz, 69, became the latest just-released prisoner to return immediately to his criminal calling, by attempting a holdup of a Chase Bank in New York City instead of reporting to his halfway house on the day after his release. (The robbery failed because the “bank” was actually just a Chase customer-service branch, with no money.) (2) The Phoenix convenience store robber escaped with the money in September, but like many others, inadvertently stuck his face directly in front of the surveillance camera. He had entered the store with a plastic bag pulled tight over his face to distort his features and foil the camera, but halfway through the robbery, he unsurprisingly began laboring for breath and yanked off the bag, revealing his face.