Camels are the epitome of substance over style. These beasts of burden have evolved to be the hardiest, most reliable, and fuel-efficient pack animals on the planet. But between the spitting, the spaghetti legs, and, of course, the smell, they're not going to win any beauty pageants. Except that stylists know that a little makeover is all it takes to turn any of these long-lashed lookers into the most smokin' camel since Joe.
Much like people living through 2020, camels can look forward to receiving a single haircut a year. During the Islamic festival of Eid-al-Adha, the Pakistani city of Karachi hosts the world's largest cattle market. With thousands of camels competing to be sold, traders will do anything to have their even-toed ungulate stand out from the crowd. As a result, some employ an ancient skill practiced throughout the Indian subcontinent: the noble art of camel barbering.
Armed with nothing but a janky pair of scissors, these amateur stylists possess the talent to sculpt intricate patterns onto the back of camels, increasing their sale value by a lot. Most camel barbers can do around a dozen unique styles ranging from "your grandparents' living room carpet" to "your grandparents' dining room carpet." The haircut costs about $15 and takes up to four hours -- plenty of time for the camel to chat about how they're going on a nice holiday.
Except that none of them have a fun destination at the end of Eid-al-Adha. The festival celebrates the classic divine prank where God tells Abraham he needs to sacrifice his son, Isaac, only for God to go "lol, jk bro" at the last minute and demand a sacrificial animal instead. So these pimped-out camels don't get to enjoy their look all that long, their artistic fades guaranteeing them a place on the Eid-al-Adha dinner table.
But some cosmeticized camels are more fortunate. On the other side of the border, in the Northwest of India, camel barbering has made its way to the Bikaner International Camel Festival. Since 1992, the town has hosted a two-day celebration of all things camel in honor of the "ship of the desert." Events include a camel race, camel dance, and a camel beauty pageant where camels sporting fabulous outfits and hairstyles strut their stuff on a camel catwalk -- that doesn't end with them walking into a slaughterhouse.
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