Barefoot in Jakarta

BarefootI came back to Jakarta the day before yesterday after two weeks in Italy. The first thing I did when I got to my home’s door, was to take my shoes off. I remembered that when I first came here, last October, my husband picked me up at the airport and drove me home. At the door I saw some pairs of shoes (his and my son’s) and while I watched them, he informed me that they had taken up the habit of taking off their shoes before entering the house. I was a bit annoyed because I never liked to walk barefoot. I dislike the feeling of dirt under the feet and since I am often cold, the protection of a sole is comforting to me. I protested, but it was useless: both my husband and son refused to listen to my reasons, saying that I would get quickly used to it, that the house is cleaner if we don’t take all the dirt from the road inside (well, this I could gather by myself…) and that health wise walking barefoot is a big plus.

Barefoot2Of course the problem can be solved by using slippers, which is what I do when the temperature drops down a bit, but the whole issues made me discover a different style of relating to wearing and taking off shoes. I know, for instance, that in most north European countries this is a deeply rooted habit – I still remember the thick, skidproof socks my friends wore in Germany. I had never seen, though, anybody taking their shoes off before entering…university! I recently went to a TedX Talk in Jakarta, and on the invitation it was clearly stated to wear socks or else be aware that we would be asked to remove our shoes at the entrance and put them in a bag. I was amused by the news, but felt really strange when I entered the huge university hall and walked all the way up to the auditorium, on carpeted floors, simply in my black cotton shoes. I was even more shocked when a friend told me that she had to undergo an urgent surgery and that the clinic she was taken to, observed the same rule: doctors would walk barefoot in the long hospital corridors and even enter the surgery room without any sort of protection on their feet. I also feel quite embarrassed when someone I hardly know comes to my place and I have to ask them to remove their shoes before entering – the good thing is that since the habit is so widespread here, they usually volunteer to do so before I point that out.

I am growing to like this habit, and I am becoming a fan. I found this post that I’d like to share with you: (sorry to non Italian readers). And then of course, as usual, I find it wonderful to be able to learn new things and absorb new habits at my honorable age 🙂




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