Kuda Bux: The Indian Magician who Charmed the West with Eis ‘X-ray eyes’

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There’s nothing spectacular about a man riding a bicycle through a crowded street.

But what if his eyes were covered with lumps of dough, thick swabs of cotton and several layers of gauze – and he had multiple layers of bandages wound tightly around his head in such a way that only his nostrils were left exposed?

Kuda Bux, who was born in Kashmir in 1905, was famous for performing this cycling feat on streets of England and Europe in the 1930s and 40s – something he claimed he was able to do because he could “see without eyes”.

He headlined his magic shows “the man with X-ray eyes” and would appear to perform a mind-boggling range of activities – including reading passages from books and threading a needle – while covering his eyes in his signature style.

Bux has fascinated generations with his seemingly superhuman ability. He reportedly inspired Roald Dahl’s 1977 short tale, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, which has now been adapted into an eponymously-titled film by Wes Anderson.

Bux, whose original name was Khudah Bukhsh, was born in a wealthy family. In a 1952 interview with Dahl for Argosy Magazine, he spoke about being fascinated by magic after a performance by an Indian conjurer who went by the name of Professor Moor.

Two days later, he ran away from home and followed Moor to Lahore to work as his assistant at the age of 13. In the following years, he would travel through Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Bombay (Mumbai), learning tricks and skills from traveling magicians, yogis and theatre artists.

He also changed his name to Professor KB Duke and then to Kuda Bux, author John Zubrzycki writes in his book Empire of Enchantment: The Story of Indian Magic.

In May 1935, he sailed to England, where there was an appetite for magicians from the Eastern world.

Source : BBC