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India

Movember Glory: Meet The Indian Man With A 14-Foot Moustache

Ram Singh's Guinness World Record mustache
Ram Singh's Guinness World Record mustache
Jasvinder Sehgal

JAIPUR — Having a full-bodied moustache has long been a symbol of masculinity for Indian men and once was also an indicator of caste status. So-called untouchables, excluded from India's caste system altogether, were not allowed to have a moustache at all, while lower castes had to grow theirs with the ends drooped down. Even now in modern India, there are annual competitions to judge who sports the best facial hair.

For the last hour, 61-year-old Ram Singh Chauhan has been massaging his moustache, which is how he spends at least two hours each day. "I use mustard oil, coconut oil, native butter and almond oil to massage it," he says. "Often I use olive oil too. The secret of such a long moustache is that I have never used soap to wash it. Instead I use mud."

He says his moustache is his prized possession. "I started growing my moustache when I was at school. I have never trimmed it."

In 2010, he was awarded a Guinness World Record for having the world's longest mustache. "At that time, it was 14 feet, or 4.29 meters, long," he says. "Today it's even longer, over 18 feet long." That's 5 and a half meters.

Ram's wife Asha Chauhan wanted him to cut it in the early years of their marriage, but now she shares his pride. "My husband's moustache has made me and my family famous," she says. "My children and I help him to maintain it. I help him massage wash it once a week. It is too long, so one of us has to hold the ends."

Ram's facial hair has even given him roles in both U.S. and Bollywood films — in the James Bond movie Octopussy, for example.

Today the couple is headed to an over-50 local competition to support other moustache lovers, an event in the city of Kota that's part of the Hindu Dussehra festival.

One of festival attendees is 58-year-old Prakash Ram, who has traveled more than 100 miles to compete. "I want to show people the strength of my moustache," he says, adding that he doesn't use any oil on it. "Today I will demonstrate it by lifting my 15-kilogram granddaughter with my moustache."

But today’s winner is instead 58-year-old Dev Karan Gurjar, whose moustache was judged superior apparently because of its thickness and dark color.

Despite these kinds of events, mustaches are actually less popular in India than they've traditionally been, in part because women increasingly prefer their men with clean-shaven upper lips. Bollywood stars have sported stubble rather than handlebar moustaches.

Dev Karan says he hopes that the next generation is equally passionate about moustaches, which he believes are a sign of well-being. "I always tell everyone to consult me for free to get advice for good health."

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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