This story doesn’t feel like the plot of a Wes Anderson movie; it’s more like a subplot, or background on two characters given in a quick flashback while Alec Baldwin narrates. An Indian couple that claimed to have scaled Mount Everest fabricated the whole story, according to the New York Times.
In June, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod announced to the world that they became the first Indian couple to climb the mountain and now could bring a child into the world because of it. As someone who is not a mountain climber and fails to see the connection between birth and ascending to high altitudes, this seems like an odd goal and even stranger thing to lie about. If there was ever something that should not have shame attached to it, it’s failing to climb a gigantic mountain.
Making this poor attempt to get away with a crime even funnier — the couple’s plot was to use doctored photographs and … AND … they are cops!
Those doubts were confirmed this week when the Nepalese authorities said that the Rathods, both police officers in the Indian state of Maharashtra, had doctored photographs submitted to the government in applying for a certificate of a successful climb. The couple were barred from climbing Nepal’s mountains for 10 years.
“They provided fake, cropped pictures to prove that they summited Everest,” Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal, the director general of the Nepalese Department of Tourism, said in a telephone interview on Monday.
It’s like they said, “You know those people who fake running marathons and always get caught? What if we applied that same plan to mountain climbing, but also incorporated poor Photoshop skills?” Even better is the punishment: For lying about climbing a mountain you obviously lack the ability to climb, you are not allowed to climb that mountain for 10 years.
Wait, there’s more! This is the best fraudulent mountain climbing story in history.
Indian climbers had been quick to accuse the Rathods of altering the photographs. One climber, Satyarup Siddhanta, told police in India that the couple had used photographs he had shot of his ascent. Surendra Shelke, a complainant against the couple, told the Press Trust of India that the two had appeared in different sets of clothing in the photographs, even though climbers almost never change gear on the mountain for fear of frostbite.
This couple essentially did that thing in movies when you see a poorly altered photo of a family because someone on the production team had to take separate photos of Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer and a child actor and smash them together for a portrait by a lake. And there was a wardrobe change too!
Imagine telling someone, “I was part of the New York Giants when they won Super Bowl 42. Here are some pictures of me on the field after the game.” Then when you show the photos, you are wearing No. 37 in one shot and No. 85 in the other. Or even better, you’re in a Giants jersey in one and a Patriots jersey in another.
My goodness do I love this story.