The extravagant beards and moustaches proudly sported by generations of Indian men are under threat, according to a new book that celebrates the country's finest facial hair.
As India rapidly modernises, clean chins are becoming the rule among young people, said the book's author, Richard McCallum, who spent months on the road documenting the bushiest bristles he could find before they disappear forever.
With photographer Chris Stowers, McCallum scoured markets, festivals and villages to gather specimens now collected in their book Hair India - A Guide to the Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan.
"It was an idea that started out as a bit of fun but turned into a labor of love," said McCallum, 30, a British travel business operator who has lived in Delhi for four years.
"Beards and moustaches tell the story of modern India - how it is becoming a more Westernized, homogenized place, but also how the traditions and the love of display still exist."
"Male grooming is important to Indians, and facial hair proved a topic that took us to places and into conversations with people we would never have met otherwise."
The book, illustrated with hundreds of photographs, divides facial hair into categories including "the chin strap", "the soup strainer", "the wing commander" and "the walrus".
Among those pictured are both the world's longest beard, measuring 1.6 meters, and the world's longest moustache, at 11 foot-6 inches.
The record-breaking moustache is a big earner for Ram Singh Chauman, 54, who charges modeling fees and whose whiskers have starred in Bollywood films and even had a cameo in the Bond film Octopussy.
But the stars of the book are perhaps the ordinary stall-owners and rickshaw drivers showing off moustaches and beards that are cut, dyed, waxed and preened in an endless variety of shapes and sizes.
"Some people were confused when we first told them why we wanted to take their picture, but they soon became very keen," said Stowers.
McCallum and Stowers' search took them from thecamel fairs in Rajasthan to the Himalayan town of Leh, and from the banana groves of the Western Ghats to military tattoos in the capital New Delhi.
Along the way, they demonstrated their commitment to the job by discarding their razors, with McCallum growing an unruly black beard and Stowers sprouting a moustache which he tweaked into sharp upwards curls.
Sikhs, for whom "kesh" (uncut hair) is a religious principle, feature heavily in the book, and moustaches remain a professional requirement for the doormen of five-star hotels.
But otherwise the traditional belief that facial hair is a sign of virility appears to be facing the chop.
"Young people don't want an itchy moustache or beard which they think makes them look old," said Lalan Singh, 40, a restaurant doorman in Delhi's and the owner of a handlebar moustache.
1. Why does Richard McCallum say beards and moustaches tell the story of modern India?
2. Name two of the categories of beards and moustaches in the book.
3. What was the traditional belief of facial hair?
1. They show how India has modernized and Westernized, but also how others still cling onto their traditions.
2. “The chin strap”, “the soup strainer”, “the wing commander”, and “the walrus”.
3. That is was a sign of virility.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Bernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.