China: They Called Him “Ta Hoo Za”

Jun 24, 2011
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“A cute little girl who was really inquisitive came closer and tried to remove it by hand.” Here’s an amusing story of a Pakistani and his beard in China.

1034 The Chinese, not a people of big beards. (Photo: Jim Gourley)

My flowing beard is a real source of amusement here in China for the kids and elders alike. The other day I saw some kids in the KFC who were staring at me in wonder like they usually do on their first visit to the zoo. I smiled and called them closer to have a better look. As they came near, I told my Chinese friend to tell them that the beard is not real. I even showed them by pointing with hand that I can remove it as it’s just glued to my face. A cute little girl who was really inquisitive came closer and tried to remove it by hand. Thank God she didn’t pull it too hard.

Yesterday when I was coming up to my room, I saw a stout elderly man with a bag in the lobby. He was finished checking-in at that time and entered into the lift with me. I pressed the button for my floor and gave him way to choose his floor. He didn’t come forward and kept smiling at me.

At first I smiled back, considering that he is probably going on the same floor. It was true that his room was on the same floor but his smile was actually due to my beard. He asked whether he can touch my beard by the movement of his hand. As I nodded, he came forward and started feeling my beard with both his hands, as if enjoying the feel of fluff. Then he hugged me in the same state of joy and I could just manage to smile back at him in awe.

At the work place, many Chinese friends have nicknamed me Marx. Some of them call me Ta Hoo Za which is an equivalent of long beard. K has put forth an interesting idea. He thinks that big beards can be exported to China as unlike in Pakistan, these are a source of constant pleasure here.


This post was originally published in Nonskeptical Essays in May 2009.