By AYUSH NARESH KUMAR
Around the world, workplaces have started to accept facial hair because we are getting exposed to new things, we are starting to welcome new things as the world around is evolving very fast.
But what happens when you are working in a government sector, in a bank, in a small rural area; the world which is still a few years behind the city’s life and you’ve tied a relationship with your beard.
A few days back I met a guy in Almora district of Uttarakhand with a beautiful beard. We got into a chat over tea about his experiences of living in a small rural area with a beard of about 2 inches, the bitter and the brighter side of it, how people’s reactions changes with the change in length of his beard.
Here is what he shared when I asked about his bearded life while working in this area. I hope you enjoy it.
“I am working as a branch manager in a bank in a nearby village and in a small rural area like this; especially when it is in a hilly area, a government officer attracts a good amount of respect and he is supposed to behave and look in a respectable manner. There is always a defined way how he/she should live, dress, eat, everything and facial hair isn’t one of them. I always kept a beard, style and size kept changing but it was always there with me, I love my facial hair.
I’ve been working here for few years and in that time since my beard kept changing, the reaction from other people kept changing. Sometimes the reactions are funny, sometimes people appreciate it but sometimes people become over judgmental, they become very bitter.”
THE STUBBLE PHASE
“I never expected people to notice and openly comment just 3 days into my beard growing journey.
Though people masked their comments under the veil of well-meaning concern but their faces showed the repulsiveness and shocked feelings.
They considered a beard as a sign of laziness, untidiness, and sign of a unruly boy. Something according to them does not suit a branch manager.
There were no positive comments at this time for my beard, only a few people mentioned this being a trend.
Also…. No one believed that I don’t smoke or drink.”
THE ½ INCH PHASE
“The discussion over my beard changed to me being a city boy following a trend.
The beard was still opposed, I was clearly told that a clean-shaven gentleman is what a BRANCH MANAGER should look like. Some even started commenting on my reducing marriage prospects.
Young boys were really excited to see a government officer following the likes of VIRAT KOHLI and they used to praise me and asked me for the tips.
Also, I started receiving giggles from girls but I cannot categorize them between negative or positive comments.”
THE 1 INCH PHASE
“Until now according to many I was not BEING like how a branch manager should be but now I was also being told that this is not how a HINDU BOY should be.
People started telling me that I look like a Muslim Ulema, which is not good as I am a Hindu (obviously those people had no idea about neither Islam nor Ulema). In addition to that, the comments of me being lazy and untidy started returning.
But everything was not getting worse, there was a brighter side to it too.
Apart from me being a beard guru by young boys, some elders started comparing me to Ascetics (someone avoiding physical pleasures and living a simple life, often for religious reasons)
The funny part about it was when few people started to suspect that I am a pothead.”
THE PRESENT PHASE
“Well at this time my beard is 2 inches long and the reactions which I used to get are not that often as people have started to accept my beard and it’s not exciting anymore.
Somehow the lazy comment has completely stopped and also the untidiness part too.
The comparison to a Muslim Ulema is always there by the people who are not Muslim but now people have started using some more fierce weapons by telling me that I am hurting my family and their religion by looking like this and also by reducing my marriage prospects.
As I told earlier that there is still positive things going on around me like people have given me a tagline that too a good one – Bearded guy who doesn’t drink or smoke and don’t flirt with girls. Elders are now almost convinced that I’m a spiritual person and they have started discussing spiritual matters with me.
I’m still a beard guru but for a handful of boys. Also, the girls have lost the excitement and I lost the giggles.”
It was a nice and multi-emotions full of discussion over a cup of tea and he is planning to do a little experiment with his beard style and excited about the change in reactions of the fellow villagers.
I hope it goes well and hopes to meet him again.