Lucknow, Aug. 13: Unlike Cleopatra’s nose, his may not have changed the course of history. But Akhilesh Yadav’s nozzle today changed the talking points in Uttar Pradesh, buying a diversion from the controversies surrounding his government.
The hawk-nosed young chief minister gave the phrase about blowing one’s “horn” a whole new meaning when he bragged that his “pointed” snout was a guarantor of success while releasing a cartoonist’s book, India: A Cartoon Chronicle, last evening.
Author Ram Ugrah had minutes earlier light-heartedly described Akhilesh’s nose as “a cartoonist’s delight, like that of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi”.
Indira, though, owned an aquiline or patrician nose — sharp, with a small bump that bent slightly at the end like an eagle’s beak — a type often associated in popular culture with a strong personality. The Samajwadi scion’s shows more pronounced curvatures, both forward and sideways.
It didn’t stop him from sniffing his chance and pouncing on it.
“Sometime ago, I suffered a nose injury and went to a reputable doctor who had treated a President,” he said, hinting a nose job too may have been discussed.
“He asked if I was married. When I said ‘Yes’, he told me, ‘Let it remain as it is, for people with pointed noses move ahead of others’,” Akhilesh preened, drawing giggles.
The boast had the social media and tea stalls abuzz from this morning, with the comments ranging from sympathetic to snide.
“He came to my college once and I studied his nose carefully. He is a cross between (former US President) Richard Nixon and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe,” said engineering student Ankit Sandhu from Varanasi.
Nixon, famous for the slope of his proboscis, was forced out after he went nosing around too far into rivals’ affairs.
Ravindra Srivastava, student leader at Kanpur’s Christ Church College, scoffed: “Nixon’s nose couldn’t save him; I don’t know if Akhilesh’s can help him in the next election.”
The subject of the nose’s effect on character and destiny has troubled minds as profound as 17th-century French thinker Blaise Pascal’s.
“Had Cleopatra’s nose been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed,” he wrote, alluding to the Egyptian queen’s beauty that seduced emperor and general alike and led to war.
Science jumped on the bandwagon a few years ago when British researchers developed software they claimed would help track terrorists, illegal immigrants, fraudsters and identity thieves by scanning their noses.
Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh, however, took a dig at Akhilesh, suggesting he keep his nose firmly to the grindstone instead of getting too excited about the Indira comparisons.
“I wish him well for being compared to Indira Gandhi but I wish he turns out as hardnosed a politician as her and brings glory to Uttar Pradesh through good work.”
Before TV interviews, Akhilesh is known to press make-up artists to “do something about my nose”. His encounter with the ENT specialist probably happened in 2009, a family friend reckoned.
“He was an MP then. During a visit to (hometown) Etawah, he suffered a nose injury (apparently by bumping it against a car windshield) and left for Delhi. We later heard he had consulted an ENT specialist.”
Scientists believe the nose evolved over time to adapt to the type of climate where their owners lived. In colder places, the nose is narrower and longer, which helps trap air in the nasal passage and warm and moisten it, researchers at the University of Iowa said earlier this year.
In warmer climates, where the air is already warm and moist, the nose is broader and shorter so that the air may be quickly transported to the lungs. This explains why European noses are in general “long and prominent” while African noses are “flatter and broader”.
Lucknow writer Sharad Saxena cited satirist Muhammed Basheer’s book, The World-Renowned Nose, where a man is in despair after growing a long nose but soon becomes a millionaire and a movie star, after which conspiracies are hatched to snatch his nose.
“A long nose is no insurance against hazards, especially if you are in politics,” Saxena joked.
He may have been thinking of the fictional character Pinocchio, whose nose gets longer when he lies.