Amou Haji, photographed in 2018, feared that washing would make him ill. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Amou Haji: The Dirtiest Man Alive’s Astonishing Life

Introduction

Amou Haji, known as the “dirtiest man alive,” was a unique figure who lived in the tiny village of Dejgah, Iran. Despite his unconventional lifestyle, which included not bathing for nearly seven decades, Haji lived a long and seemingly healthy life until his death at the age of 94 in October 2022. This article delves into the fascinating life of Amou Haji, exploring his unusual habits, diet, and the reasons behind his choice to remain unclean.

Who Was Amou Haji?

Early Life and Background

Born in 1928, Amou Haji spent most of his life in Dejgah, a small village in Iran. His life took an extraordinary turn early on, leading him to adopt a lifestyle that many would find unimaginable. It is said that a traumatic experience in his youth, possibly related to a failed romance, led him to seek isolation and avoid bathing altogether.

The Decision to Stop Bathing

Fear of Water or a Health Belief?

Amou Haji smoking, pre-2014.

While it’s challenging to pinpoint the exact reason Haji avoided bathing, locals suggest he might have been afraid of water. Others believe he thought cleanliness brought illness, prompting him to remain dirty as a way to maintain good health. This belief, though unconventional, seemed to work for Haji, as he lived a remarkably long life.

One Wash in Seven Decades

Remarkably, Haji managed to go from the 1950s until 2022 with only one wash, which occurred just a few months before his death. This rare bath was a result of local villagers convincing him to clean himself.

Haji’s Astonishing Diet

A Taste for Roadkill

Haji’s diet was as unconventional as his hygiene habits. He primarily consumed roadkill, with rotten porcupine meat being his favorite. Despite having access to fresh food, Haji preferred his unusual dietary choices, often becoming upset when villagers offered him home-cooked meals and clean water.

Hydration from Puddles

Despite rejecting fresh water, Haji stayed hydrated by drinking a gallon of liquid daily, collected from puddles and stored in a rusty oil tin.

Unconventional Pastimes

Smoking Animal Feces

One of Haji’s most bizarre habits was smoking animal feces from his pipe. When dung was unavailable, he would settle for tobacco cigarettes, sometimes smoking up to five at once.

Living in Isolation

Though he occasionally received food and cigarettes from locals, Haji preferred solitude. He lived just outside Dejgah, often sleeping in a hole in the ground. When it was wet or cold, he used an open brick hut built by friendly citizens.

Maintaining His Appearance

Burning His Hair and Beard

Despite not bathing, Haji cared about his appearance. He trimmed his hair and beard by burning them to the desired length with an open flame. Random car mirrors served as his grooming tools.

Loneliness and Social Interactions

Desire for Companionship

While Haji enjoyed his isolation, he admitted to feeling lonely at times. He expressed a wish to have found a wife, but his lifestyle made it difficult to meet people.

Engaging with Locals

Haji was known to keep up with politics and enjoyed discussing historical events, such as the French and Russian Revolutions. Despite his appearance, he was pleasant to converse with, and the local governor condemned those who harassed him.

Haji’s Health and Longevity

Surprising Health Findings

For someone who hadn’t bathed in decades, Haji was surprisingly healthy. Tests conducted by Dr. Gholamreza Mowlavi, an associate professor of parasitology, revealed that Haji was free from major illnesses. He only had trichinosis, a parasitic infection from eating raw meat, but it did not pose a significant threat to his health.

A Robust Immune System

Dr. Mowlavi speculated that Haji’s long-term lack of hygiene might have strengthened his immune system. This could explain why Haji remained healthy despite his unconventional lifestyle.

The Final Chapter

A Bath Before Death

In the months leading up to his death, locals persuaded Haji to take his first bath in nearly 70 years. Sadly, he passed away from natural causes shortly afterward, in October 2022.

Conclusion

Amou Haji’s life story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the complexity of individual choices. His decision to live a life devoid of conventional hygiene, while perplexing to many, underscores the diversity of human experience. Haji’s story challenges our understanding of health, cleanliness, and what it means to live a fulfilling life.

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