Lately, I have been wearing a shabby beard on my face.Check the picture below.(Its little repulsive from the expression)
Why I am not clearing it out. Well, I have my reasons.No, I won’t tell you about that in this post.
Leaving aside how I look into this picture or in general, I wanted to point out things which have been bugging me. I understand the fact that I look like a Muslim in this beard and I can bear that comment in a friendly banter.However, it’s not only my friends who are pulling my beard rather people in general.
At present, I am staying in New Delhi or Central Delhi area.It is filled with student community & Punjabi/Hindu community. And each & everyone of them will eye me with suspicion.At first, I understood it was the beard after all & enjoyed observing their eye movements & facial expressions.(Yeah! I relish observing people ,not in a perverse manner).Here is my general observation:
- Any adult or old man or woman will look at me for at least 6 sec & give a look that they understand that students preparing for the exam can have such conditions.(Yeah I calculated the time also).They seem to take pity on my condition.
- A male student will have either 5 sec or 10 sec glance period(at least). Their eyes will either show wonder at how much I might be studying or show pity at my condition.Some will even judge me as a spendthrift person.Few will just ignore or not judge anything.
- A female student will either just ignore after 2 sec or after 6 sec.
- A guard or a police-personnel will gaze for some time looking suspiciously at you.
So, the main point is - Indian girls don’t like bearded guys.They will ignore you flat – no reaction.And if you will have a frowning look on your face then they will step a little away from you. LOL – I don’t know why but I enjoy observing people’s reaction – I may do it all day.
Everything was fine up-til 2-3 weeks back, then some incidents occurred which pissed me off.
I went for a Hollywood movie & the security-check personnel said to me that it’s in ‘English’.I was confused at his repetition of, “Picture Angrezi me hai”.(Movie is in English).
[So, a Muslim guy is illiterate to understand English]
I was standing at a bus-stop & a guy comes straight to me. There were many people standing around the bus-stop but he directly came to me.He asked, ” Bhaijaan, ye Begum Bus Adde ka Rasta bataayenge”(Brother, what’s the way to Begum Bus-station?). I politely told him that I didn’t knew that place.And as he left I realized why he came to me & addressed me as ‘BhaiJaan’ (for ‘Brother’ in Urdu).
[Really, beard gives you such an indication.I thought it was keeping away people from approaching me]
A beggar comes to me & my friends.After poking each one of my friends he came at me, saying :” Meeya, aap to de do.Aapke yahan to daan dena…”. I didn’t stayed there & took off.
[Oh God!Ya Allah! abb ye bhi din dikha diye , bhikhari tak aise funde dene laga]
Let me clarify that I don’t have any animosity towards the Muslim community (as some of my good friends are Muslims).It was the engraved stereotyped perception in the minds of the people which was ticking me off.You think people get biased when they hear some Muslim name – No! they have so deeply symbolized even the beard-style with a community. Sometimes I was amazed as people took me as a Muslim by looking at the beard and ignored the Red thread around the neck & on the wrist. They proactively categorized me in that group & ignored all other signs.
One more angle was added to my understanding that it might be the Muslim identity perceived by the people which was attracting all the attention. And Yes it was – this time I observed the old people reactions, they were backing off a little because of this ‘Mulla Perception’.(I don’t know whether such term exists)
This stereotyping was not only present in low-paid workers or less-educated or uneducated lot, but even in the educated & modern people. It was amusing to see students aspiring to become Govt. Servants were also not left out of it.I wonder how some of these prejudiced guys/gals will perform their public duty with neutrality.
Now I know how one feels being looked suspiciously & sometimes repulsively.I wonder does gender stereotypes also get similar reactions. I don’t know whether I should criticize it or leave it altogether. Humans do have this inherent quality of mental organization of symbols & attaching meanings to them.The ‘Mulla Perception’ can be just a part of that. I don’t want to censure it as I never had any offensive or restrictive experience even with such beard-prejudice.Though, I won’t even deny non-existence of extreme reactions or any offending actions against a person bearing this style. I have utterly low-experience in this domain and would refrain from heading into this area with half-baked shallow thoughts & ideas.I consider this as a serious prejudice issue of society.It touches multiple parts of our life and our mindset.Also it can open ways into other related prejudices against gender, caste,reservation e.t.c. It will be better for me to stop contemplating on this further because of aforementioned reasons.One positive thing I can say about the behaviors is that there was tolerance present in the society, a healthy sign for the democracy.
However, I want to ask some questions.
Yaar!, this type of beard is not only connected with ‘Mulla style’ but also ‘Baba style’, ‘Pujabi style’ & ‘Great Intellectuals style’ e.t.c. Why then are you stuck with the ‘Mulla style’ only? It tells me more about your perception then it tells me about me.So, compliment carefully. Next time say something like, ‘You look like some German Philosopher’ - I would take that comment with blushing smile.
And girls, I can see Punjabi’s with same style & they do have girlfriends – you know . Even Muslim guys have girls there.Then why are you so biased against full grown beards? Don’t give in to marketed pop-culture ideology of only clean shaved guys being charming. We can also be. So be an individual with your self created opinions & don’t just ignore us.
Moreover, I have seen girls go nuts over Foreigners coming to India having beards like that.There you don’t have any problem & with us you think it looks bad.
Check your ‘Beard Perception’ & give us a chance.
P.S – This beard won’t stay long but my appeal to girls are issued in interest of all guys wearing proudly their full grown crop.