Of Moustaches and Men: an irreverent account

Trip Start Jul 03, 2008
Trip End Dec 07, 2008

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Flag of India  , Union Territory of Pondicherry,
Thursday, October 2, 2008

Of Moustaches and Men: A reflection on facial accoutrements. And some other stuff...
So life here in ol' Pondi has been good: There are fewer "surprise" government holidays when everything shuts down, the terrorist bombings of Delhi are thankfully unknown to this small town, and everyone in the hostel is doing fabulously.  Léo is continuing to teach me Capoeira("Brazilian Dance Fighting"), and classes are going well.
This last weekend I decided to shed some scruffiness and get a haircut, which Lorena graciously provided.  It was just as I was about to clear-cut my unkempt beard that I was hit with an interesting idea...
(Disclaimer:  I don't hate moustaches.  In fact, some men (like my grandfather) pull them off marvelously.  However, when sported by the under-30 crowd in a ubiquitous fashion, it gets a bit tiresome .)
For my readers who haven't set foot in India (more specifically the south of India) you must realize that you have never seen a place with a per-capita moustache population like this.  Conservative estimates from the non-stached crowd place the number at 85-95% of all males over the age of 18.  It is truly absurd.  The roots of this phenomenon lie in two places: the machismo ethic and the worship of movie stars.  A huge bushy 'stache is seen as a badge of manliness, to be cultivated and nurtured.  This is aided by the fact that almost ALL of the Tamil movie stars are seen sporting this upper-lip decoration.  Needless to say those who can't grow a respectable 'stache (such as yours truly) still attempt to, in order to tap into some sort of unspoken testosterone energy force.
Which brings me to my decision.  With razor in hand, I decided to take the plunge and make a foray into the Tamilian "boys club" and cut myself a moustache. Having no fear of self-deprecating humor, I knew I could do this without flinching.  I just merely wanted it to be a social experiment:  Would I be treated differently with one?
Admittedly, my moustache was ugly.  I looked like a member of a 70's disco team.  It was met with mixed reaction (mostly laughter) from my friends, as they knew the purpose of my endeavor.  Over the next few days, I got mixed reviews:  more waves and smiles from adult moustachers, more giggles from gaggles of Tamilian girls and more chuckles and pointing from younger moustaches.  I don't mind however, tongue-in-cheek, the joke's on them anyway, as they take this furry upper lip business all too seriously.
Alas, I have shorn my newfound badge of manliness, but my excursion as a legitimate Tamil male was a fun and hilarious venture indeed.
In other news, some friends and myself are planning to go to Goa in the next week or so.  Stay tuned!
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annchenh on

Your hirsute heritage
I feel just awful, Morgan-- it is such a shame that the facial hair follicles are genetically passed through the paternal line rather than the maternal...
You seem fabulous otherwise, love and hugs! Maj (Harryet)

edah on

In defence of the mustache
Hi Morgan--it seems you have insulted 95% of the mustache wearers of that nation which has been up to now an ally of the U.S..
I do appreciate your exclusion of this writer from your opinions and observations.
I suggest that a more productive use of your time would be achieved if yiu could convince Leo to teacd you the Lambada which Ibelieve is a derivity of a popular Brazilian dance. It would also help to get your mind off of mustaches.

fish_death_yo~ on

On being a member of a 70's disco team...
...yes, yes you do. XD
Though in most situations I am proud and usually willing to identify myself as your sister, your 'stache might cause a barrier between us. *snickers*
I suppose not all the men of the family can resemble Sean Connery when growing out their facial hair...
love, ari

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