After months of fostering facial hair, the above pic was an inspiration that ignited in my mind to document the waning of my beard during my shave session. After all, it was a transformation that needed remembrance.
I like playing a game with this pic – With a one-arm-distance; I like to cover the left part of my face with my right palm to see one look, and then cover the right part of my face with my left palm to see another. This is one of my favourite pics.
But although it was a distinctive fashion statement that I made, I would like to ‘story’ the experience during the time I carried the beard.
Sunburnt face at one of the most beautiful/secluded beaches on the east coast!!! (Dont ask me where. Let it remain beautiful and secluded)
I was on a vacation to one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches I have seen on the east coast of India. Landing at the airport there, I noticed that I was treated differently only because I had a full beard and ‘appeared’ to look like a Muslim. From double checking my bag at the security check, to dealing with unwanted looks by other travellers, I had to somehow feel different. I also noticed that an airport manager followed me to the loo, doing nothing but observe until I left the place.
Apart from the fact that it was a s**tty airport with very low-level maintenance, I was appreciative and carefree that the airport authorities were concerned about a man with a beard. *sarcasm*
Somehow they thought that to hassle a man with a beard, who appeared like a Muslim and also fit the looks of popular-culture's portrayal of a terrorist was more important than keeping their s**tty airport clean and comfortable for a traveller.
So my then latest fashion statement, which all my female friends avowed that it made me look 10 times hotter, suddenly dropped low to the standard of the enemy of a civilized society? Now I wonder; is that my problem that I am above their reality, or is it theirs that they cant rise up?
Then again, s**tty places, s**tty people, and s**tty thoughts go hand in hand. So don’t bother about them, my Muslim brothers and sisters.
Also during this trip, I went to a restaurant which supposedly, as they claimed, had one of the best-tasting biryanis in the east coast. And again, I was treated differently. I ordered for a takeaway and I remember the manager literally asked me to wait ‘outside’ the restaurant because I had a beard and to him looked like I was about to throw a bomb on his already sleazy looking restaurant.
I remained silent, also ate that takeaway, but I am sure that the restaurant was shut permanently later and the manager is now jobless. Don’t ask me how; that’s just how the universe works.
The blessed view few hours before I reached that coast for a dip in the sea!!!
Also, this beard story of mine is not a clean slate to be a one-sided victory. I had similar experiences when I lived in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E during the month of Ramadan.
It’s really a different place if you had to live in Abu Dhabi during the fasting season. With all the restaurants and eateries closed till the evening, it was really a task for a non-Muslim to find food, although there is no restriction. And if you somehow do, you are subject to be treated like as if you have sinned.
I worked as a Visual Merchandiser in U.A.E; it is one of the most stressful jobs which demanded physical endurance all day long; especially during store set-ups.
I remember how I was mocked for finding a sandwich place during the shutdown and had my lunch in the pantry while some of my Muslim colleagues were so-called ‘hungry-and-tired’.
As the saying goes – “Work is worship.” I am sure my hard-earned lunch was more in tune with the Almighty than their whining fast in his name.
Treat people like how you want to be treated. Fellow humans of different religion, race, colour, creed are not really different. We are all ‘same’ but at different levels.