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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
India's 'monster eater' retires
Rappai the 'monster eater'
Rappai says he has other things to worry about apart from food (photos by AS Satheesh)
Restaurant owners in the town of Trissur in the Indian state of Kerala can breathe a huge sigh of relief - the "monster eater" is retiring.

They can now think again about launching "eat as much as you like" lunches and buffets.

That is because Rappai - the man with the giant appetite - has been warned by medics to curb his food intake.

In his prime it would have been an under-statement to describe Rappai's appetite as voracious.

'Unlimited meals'

This was a man who quite easily could plough his way through two buckets of rice and accompanying chicken and vegetable dishes.

For breakfast it was said he could devour 75 idlies (rice cakes) and still have room for more.

On one famous occasion, the man who locally became known as Theeta (monster eater) took advantage of a local restaurant's "unlimited meals" coupon.

He reputedly scoffed three bucketfuls of rice, one bucket of fish curry and 10 kgs of cooked meat.

Kerala map

The restaurant in question ran out of food, and police had to be called in to restore order as a large crowd gathered to watch Rappai in action.

The BBC's Sridevi Pillai in Trivandrum says that such eating extravaganzas became more commonplace as Rappai's fame spread throughout the state.

A regular at Kerala's informal eating competitions, Rappai is also credited on one day with ploughing his way through 700 idlies on top of 10 kgs of halwa (an Indian dessert).

No wonder then that when hoteliers saw this cheerful man majestically walking around the town - adorned in khaki shirt and white dhoti - they would hastily put up the shutters of their premises and close down.

Turn violent

But now 64-year-old Rappai's huge appetite has had to be curtailed because he recently developed a severe stomach ache.

He was told in no uncertain terms to eat less or face the consequences.

"I am diabetic and my body weight was too heavy at around 115kg," he said.

"I have decided to listen to the doctors. I think I have lost the power to digest food. My friends, especially my police friends, have advised me to eat more carefully.

Rappai
My heavy eating days are over, there will be no more competitions for me
Rappai

Rappai refers to his "police friends" for good reason: there were times that hoteliers became so enraged at his capacity to eat huge amounts of food that situations sometimes threatened to turn violent.

Police rescued him several times, on occasion even taking him back to the station for a little more food.

Today Rappai is resting at his home at Kizhakkumpattukara in Trissur.

He says that other things to worry about apart from his stomach.

"I have my 90-year-old mother to look after," he says, "and now have to cope with tremendous change in my life.

"Gone are the days of unbridled consumption of idlies, halwa and buckets full of boiled rice.

"My heavy eating days are over," he says. "There will be no more competitions for me."

"Now I only take a bowl of Kanji (rice gruel) for breakfast and a little rice for lunch and dinner.

Rappai gives a toothless grin.

"Anyway I have lost all my teeth because of over-consumption of sweets."


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