What’s Up with the Mustache?
Over the past few weeks we received many questions and comments—some unsolicited, some may have been solicited by Meg in an attempt to get Jed to shave—about the evolution of Jed’s facial hair. We therefore figured we would tell the story that Meg would like to call “the month of unattractive Jed.” Jed began growing a beard shortly before the New Year in preparation for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and “because India might be cold.” While Meg understood it would be cold on the summit of Kili (where we stood for a grand total of 15 minutes), she didn’t think this necessitated a beard to keep warm (as she managed to do just fine without one.) She also certainly did not buy the India excuse as cold meant 70s during the day and maybe high 50s at night. (For our readers on the East Coast right now, not very impressive, right?) However, being patient and understanding with her sometimes difficult husband, she allowed the beard for a little while…..
After they arrived in the north of India where even Jed couldn’t argue the cold excuse anymore, he agreed to shave his beard, but pleaded he needed to keep a mustache so that he could “look Indian.” He was convinced that with this mustache, he would avoid being hassled and instead, “blend right in”. Meg told him he not only didn’t look the least bit Indian, he looked like a complete idiot and, in fact, quite creepy……
She let him keep it for a few days to humor him and even put up with him going on and on about the one man who “spoke to him in Hindi in the subway” and the one vendor who told him he liked Jed’s mustache because it was a sign of manhood (note that Jed had bought water from the same man the previous night when Meg was not present and insisted we return…..a little suspicious.) However, before our meeting with the US Ambassodor in New Delhi, Meg decided they couldn’t show up with Jed looking like a total creep, so she convinced him to at least shave off the handlebars…..
As most of you will probably agree, however, this change didn’t result in much improvement. Meg’s brother Josh probably said it best when he wrote Jed "should stop ruining your pictures with his ridiculous facial hair (if he wants to grow a porn mustache he should stay out of the 'picture of the day.' " Finally upon arrival in Singapore (but only after Jed insisted he be allowed to show is mustache to our hosts), the mustache came off and Meg was able to look at Jed without cringing once again!
A Regal Appendage
For many centuries Indian maharajas, princes, and nobility of all kinds have adorned their faces with mustaches. These mustaches have taken many forms: handlebar, trimmed, grand sweeping appendages that occupy most of the face.
Over the centuries, the trend extended beyond just royalty to encompass even the most common of men. Today all men in India maintain a mustache (a few women also do but they are mainly a part of the traveling circus). And if I’m anything it is a man of the people; when in Rome….
I began my training for the Indian mustache weeks in advance. During this time I carefully tended my face and its emerging hair to produce the perfect form. It was clearly difficult for Meg, given that she is unable (thankfully) to grow facial hair of her own, to understand this higher calling known as the Indian mustache, but sometimes the true genius is misunderstood in its time- Galileo anyone?
By the time we reached New Delhi my mustache was in perfect form and I was receiving compliments left, right, and center from Indians in all walks of life: the owner of our hotel, the very wise and fair man that we purchased the water from (despite what Meg might think we only went back to him repeatedly because he had the best prices), the waiters at several restaraunts, and the man on the metro (who even complimented it in Hindi he was so convinced I was Indian!). In sum, what better way to travel than with facial hair that identifies you as one with the common man?
PS To rebut some of Meg’s specific inaccuracies above:
- On top of Kilimanjaro, where it was snowing, Jed had a nice warm face and Meg was wearing a hood, a hat, and a scarf to try to keep her face warm. While we may have only been on the summit for a brief time, several days of the trip were very cold.
- It was actually cold in northern India; in fact, New Delhi reached an all-time low temperature days before we arrived. During our trip to Pushkar, Meg was wearing all of her clothes while my face was nice and warm
- Our Singapore hosts, along with many friends in India, complimented Jed on his fantastic beard and mustache
Meg's last word (because she is the wife): I assume you all will agree the "cold" argument is absurd and that Jed did indeed look creepy. Finally, if you take a look at the picture below taken at the Taj Mahal, you'll notice Jed looks nothing like the other people in the picture and only two of them have mustaches.