Friday, October 1, 2010

Thoughts an unhairy upper lip provoked

A few days ago, a fair, skinny young man with a clean-shaven face came to meet me.  I took him for a north Indian.  But when he mentioned his name as Veeraiah, I was taken aback.  If a south Indian without a moustache seemed odd, an unmoustachioed Veeraiah seemed odder.  Valour without whiskers!  A Veeraiah with a bare upper lip!  They just wouldn’t match up.

You may say that the young man was skinny and that the name Veeraiah cannot go with a slender figure either.  It can.  Why, it does, I mean, it did in the case of Veerappan, the forest brigand, who is no more now.  The lofty luxuriance on his thin upper lip more than made up for his scraggy, unbrigand-like frame.  What was more, the black profusion on his face stood comparison with the wild, unrestrained growth of foliage around him in the Sathyamangalam forests.  I reminded the young man of the significance of his name and advised him to grow on that unbecoming marble surface a modest pencil line at least, if not an intimidating handlebar.

“Consider the man without a watch. / He is like a soda without Scotch”, said the American poet, Ogden Nash.  One can say the same thing about a man without a moustache.  But the president of Nash’s own nation doesn’t seem to think so.  His upper lip is as smooth and shiny as marble. To be true to his name (Bush) at least, he ought to be sporting a bushy moustache – the kind that Stalin sported, though he didn’t have any such compulsion.   Tony Blair is under no such obligation either.  Shakespeare, one of the most famous writers of his nation, made one of his woman characters say, “I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face.”  Two centuries later, another poet, Richard Garnett, expressed a similar idea:  “Let the man that woos to win / Woo with an unhairy chin.”  But the Spaniards hold a healthy attitude towards the moustache.  “A kiss without a moustache”, goes one of their sayings, “is like an egg without salt.”

Can you think of a policeman without a moustache?  A research study conducted by the Madhya Pradesh police force has revealed that the moustache signifies authority and that a policeman with a moustache is taken seriously.  The government of Madhya Pradesh has, therefore, introduced something very sensible: the payment of a moustache allowance of Rs 30 a month to every policeman in the state to encourage him to grow and groom a menacing moustache.

Without any such incentive, a 52-year-old farmer of Chirala, known as Meesala Naidu, has done something unbelievable with his mighty moustache.  He has pulled two Maruthi cars (1.5 tonnes) with his moustache to a distance of 100 feet.  But that’s only strength.  The moustache of a Karnataka policeman has both strength and skill.  Rudrappa Savanur, the constable, can lift weights upto 15 kilos with his 76-cm-long moustache, grown, again, without any moustache allowance!     


No comments:

Post a Comment