Dan and Mark Lurie47

There was a time when I could not lift seventy pounds from the ground to place it on the scale. The scale was higher than the ground by only two or three inches, but I could not lift the weight. I went to Dan Lurie’s weightlifting store. Mark Lurie is the son. They are such kind friends of mine. Mark Lurie laughed and laughed. He placed his hand on my back and said something like, “Enough!” He felt miserable that I was unable to lift seventy pounds from the ground and put it on the scale although the scale was on a very low level.

I said to Mark, “Wait! When I lift one hundred pounds from the ground, I will come here and give you a cake.” He laughed and laughed. I said, “All right, wait!”

In three or four months, at the tennis ground, I lifted one hundred pounds. Very nicely the picture shows the lift. I brought the picture to Mark and gave him a cake. Then we became such close friends. He had so many exercise machines. His father became my great admirer. In his father’s office, near the door, he keeps my lifting pictures.

That was not enough! I went to Dan. He had seventy or eighty exercise machines of different types in his store, and I wanted to buy something. He would say, “Junk, junk! I will not sell it to you. It is junk.” I could not buy anything from his store. Other people were buying things — I could see it. But when I practised on a machine and I was so eager to buy it, he would say, “It is all junk! I will not sell it to you.”

Many years ago Dan Lurie was America’s strongest man. President Reagan invited him for hand-wrestling. In a fleeting second he could have defeated President Reagan, but he pretended, making President Reagan seem so strong. Finally, he “surrendered” to President Reagan, and it came out in the newspaper: “Reagan is the strongest man.” Dan tells such funny, funny stories! He became a very close friend of mine.

Now a sad story I shall tell you. An old lady went to buy a machine from Mark, Dan’s son. He said, “This is not meant for elderly people.” She was insulted. She said, “What do you mean? I can do it.” He said, “No, it is not good for you. It is for young people.” But she did not listen. What could he do? She wanted to buy it, so he sold her the machine.

In a week’s time the old lady fell down on the machine and broke her ribs. She got a famous lawyer and sued Mark for five million dollars. This is one hundred per cent authentic. Five million dollars! He said, “I cannot deal with five million dollars. I will never be able to pay. It is useless to fight with this lawyer.” He gave up, and he went bankrupt.

The old lady happened to be a rich woman. Mark had begged her, “No, no, it is not for you.” But she said, “No, I will buy it.” She bought it, and this is what happened: she sued him.

Now here is a funnier than the funniest story! Dan Lurie had a magazine about weightlifting. Many years ago it was arranged that the editor would come and interview me. I was giving a musical performance at the United Nations one evening. It was decided that at the end, when the concert was over, the editor would interview me. In those days I rolled up my sleeve when I was about to play the cello. Alas, when the editor saw my muscles while I was playing the cello, immediately he said that I was a liar! The editor said, “He could never lift this kind of weight — impossible! I have observed his arms.” Dan Lurie had kept my pictures on display, but the editor said that he could not believe it! He did not interview me.

Now I lift heavy weights. But even now, perhaps, if that editor comes and sees my muscles, he will not believe it! I have lifted Utthal, but if the editor sees my physique and Utthal’s, is he going to believe it? The weightlifters have muscles, big muscles. In Seattle, after I lifted one weightlifter, he literally tore off his T-shirt to show me how big his muscles were. But he did not lift me! He was very nice. He was showing off his muscles, but he did not want to lift me.

FSC 46. 4 February 2002, Nexus Resort, Karambunai, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia