India Is Now Home to the World's Largest Statue

Prime Minister,s Office, Press Information Bureau, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]
Prime Minister,s Office, Press Information Bureau, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]

At nearly 600-feet-tall, the world's largest statue was just recently completed. Depicting India's first interior minister and its most beloved deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue was unveiled in late October 2018 and is nearly five times taller than Brazil's famed Christ the Redeemer, twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, and 180 feet taller than the previous record holder, China's Spring Temple Buddha.

The statue's subject, Vallabhbhai Patel, holds a special place in the country's history. Called the "Iron Man of India," Patel was one of country's modern founding fathers and was instrumental in the fight for India's independence, having worked directly with Gandhi to organize non-violent campaigns of civil disobedience. He was also a vital broker of peace, using his political acumen to convince more than 500 princely states to unite following the 1947 partition of India. For that reason, the memorial is called "The Statue of Unity."

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Statue Of Unity
Government of India, Abhinay6597, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]

Not everybody is a fan of the new landmark. The sculpture is located in a relatively remote part of Patel's home state of Gujarat and cost $430 million to build. Local farmers, who claim to have lost land because of the project, have protested construction and argue that the funds could have been put to better use. (Half of the money was provided by the Gujarat state government.) "Instead of spending money on a giant statue, the government should have used it for farmers in the district," farmer Vijendra Tadvi complained to the BBC.

The Statue of Unity, however, may not hold the title of the world's largest statue for long—although, if it does lose its title, the distinction will likely remain in India. Over in Mumbai, the Shiv Smarak statue is being constructed to honor the 17th-century Hindu warrior and Maratha kingdom founder, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. By its estimated completion in 2021, the memorial will tower at 695 feet.

Why Are Shower Doors in Hotel Rooms Getting Smaller?

sl-f/iStock via Getty Images
sl-f/iStock via Getty Images

Shower doors are shrinking in posh hotels, and minimalism is to blame, Condé Nast Traveler reports.

In lieu of hanging shower curtains or providing full shower doors, many newer hotels are opting for glass panels that cover only half the length of the shower. That’s frustrating for many travelers, who complain the growing trend is inconvenient and leaves bathroom floors sopping wet and slippery after shower use.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, the half-door trend began in European hotels in the 1980s. “A lot of it comes down to people trying to design hotel rooms with limited space,” boutique hotel designer Tom Parker told the magazine. “It’s about the swing of the shower door, because it has to open outward for safety reasons, like [if] someone falls in the shower. You have to figure out where the door swing’s going to go, make sure it’s not [hitting] the main door. It’s just about clearances.” A smaller door also has the added benefit of making the space appear larger than it really is, according to the magazine.

The trend is also connected to the birth of minimalist “lifestyle hotels,” which cater to a younger, hipper clientele that gravitates toward sleek lines and modern design. Plus, half-size glass doors are easier to clean than shower curtains, which tend to trap bacteria and need to regularly be replaced, which can add up to significant additional costs for a hotel.

Theoretically, even half-door showers are designed to minimize water spillage. Designers try to level the floors in bathrooms so water doesn’t pool in random areas, and they place shower heads and knobs in areas that are more protected by glass paneling. And where design doesn’t work, hotels try to pick up the slack.

“Hotels tend to mitigate the risks by offering non-slip interior shower mats, cloth bath mats for stepping out of the shower, grab bars, [and] open showers or no-sill showers which avoid having to step up and over the ledge,” designer Douglas DeBoer, founder and CEO of Rebel Design Group, told Condé Nast Traveler.

But the half-door trend still has yet to gain much love from hotel guests. “The older generation much, much prefers having a shower door,” Parker told Condé Nast Traveler. “I’m like a 70-year-old man at heart anyway. I like [a shower door] if it’s in keeping with the style of the rest of the room.”

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Miami’s Dixie Highway Will Become Harriet Tubman Highway

A stretch of Old Dixie Highway in Homestead, Florida.
A stretch of Old Dixie Highway in Homestead, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Earlier this week, commissioners in Florida’s Miami-Dade County unanimously voted to rename parts of the Dixie Highway after Harriet Tubman.

CNN reports that Modesto Abety, former CEO of the county’s Children’s Trust, had written a letter explaining how his granddaughter had asked him why "Dixie"—a word referring to the Confederate states, south of the Mason-Dixon line—was still featured prominently on highway signage. She suggested it might be more fitting to rename the roads after Harriet Tubman, instead. Inspired by the letter, Commissioner Dennis Moss began the process of doing just that.

“[Harriet Tubman] was the antithesis of slavery,” Moss told CNN. “I thought that suggestion was a good suggestion.”

According to the Miami Herald, the update will only apply to the parts of the highway that run through Miami-Dade County—Old Dixie Highway in South Dade and West Dixie Highway in Northeast Dade—but commissioners are encouraging the rest of Florida to follow suit.

Even if that happens, there will still be quite a (literal) long way to go before we see “Harriet Tubman Highway” on the entire Dixie Highway: The roadway spans a total of 5786 miles across 10 states, all the way from Florida to Michigan.

That said, the lack of major opposition to the name alteration in Miami-Dade County bodes well for the future of Tubman-christened roads everywhere. Some locals did voice concerns about the cost of changing signs and business addresses, but the commissioners felt the importance of eliminating a term so closely associated with slavery would outweigh those costs.

“The time is always right to do what is right,” Moss told CNN, quoting the sermon Martin Luther King Jr. gave at the National Cathedral just four days before his assassination in 1968.

[h/t CNN]

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