It’s tough being a local celebrity. But Shir Khan, who’s also known as Kaka Shawqi, or “dashing uncle”, in the Afghan capital of Kabul, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When people see me on the streets of Kabul, some raise their thumbs up, while some say ‘bravo’ or want to take a picture with me, ” he says.
The funny, but dignified, man’s claim to fame? His 60cm-long moustache – which is perhaps the longest one in all of Afghanistan.
Khan says that he does get tired sometimes of taking so many selfies at wedding parties, where large crowds of people would line up to get a picture with him.
“People are watching me instead of watching the music and dances, ” the dashing man exclaims while laughing loudly and twisting his moustache to the back of his ears.
The financial remuneration and fame of a man known as Karim Borot – who received a monthly allowance of 500 Afghanis (RM26.50) during the former King Zahir Shah era (1933-1973) – was the primary motive for Khan to grow his own moustache in a bid to gain fame and money for himself.Kaka Shawqi’s 10 children – five sons and five daughters – never had an issue with his long moustache, though his spouse sometimes encourages him to get rid of it.
Meanwhile, however, maintaining such a moustache has become more of a passion than a way to make money.
That said, though Khan doesn’t receive official remuneration for his moustache from the government, there are a number of high-ranking government officials and well-wishers abroad who help him take care of his moustache by sending him special oil and hair dye, or cash.
“Some even pay 100 or 200 (US) dollars (RM410 or RM815), ” Khan happily replies when asked how he keeps his unique facial hair in such good shape.
His moustache has also helped his private business of tailoring, he says: “Even my tailoring job has improved because of my moustache.”
While it seems an impossible dream, Kaka Shawqi hopes to one day have a chance to participate in an international moustache competition so he can receive global as well as local recognition. He therefore intends to grow his moustache up to 100cm long.
Whether he will be able to achieve that by 2021 – when the next biennial World Beard and Moustache Championship is currently set to take place, pending developments with the coronavirus pandemic – or be able to get to New Zealand, that year’s host, is another question.
According to Guinness World Records, the longest moustache in the world is 4.29m and belongs to Ram Singh Chauhan of India.
Khalid, 27, who is a colleague of Khan’s, says that despite his unique appearance, people behave nicely with him. “People love him because he is behaving well with everyone, ” Khalid says.
“Our people have always experienced pain; when they see something interesting, they become happy, ” adds Khalid.
While there are few people who have not suffered from some type of violence in the capital city, Khan says that, personally, he has not experienced any terrible incidents himself, which is surprising.
On the contrary, he says, his life has become more adventurous and filled with a lot of funny memories due to his long moustache.
“I remember once when two drivers had an accident while watching my moustache, ” he recalls.
– dpa / THE STAR