Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Life Before Plastic Flipflops in Tibet & Nepal

Here in Pokhara as with most of the poorer Asian countries, plastic flipflops are ubiquitous. You see the German tourists stumping around in their sensible hiking boots, the ultra-feminine Indian women in delicate, painted leather sandles (often with little kitten heels), a few Americans in sneakers, and practically everyone else is wearing plastic flipflops.

Leather is not used here very much - partly because cows are sacred and also people were until recently too poor to eat much meat, so it's not like there were a lot of spare hides laying around. So I asked our new friend Babu what did people wear before there were plastic flipflops?

He looked at me astonished at my dumb American naivete. "Their bare feet of course!"

I looked at him astonished at his dumb male naivete. "Not everyone. Of course there were shoes!"

Well of course we were both right. Most people were in bare feet, but I was delighted to meet a (female) shopkeeper from Tibet who told me all about the lovely wooden sandals people used to wear. See my snapshot above.

"How do they stay on?" asked my husband. The shopkeeper and I exchanged a look, really men can be so unintelligent sometimes. "You hold on with your big toe." I picked one up - it was extraordinarly light - almost like a sandal made of balsa wood, although tougher than that. It would be delightful to wear. Tibet's version of Holland's wooden clogs.


Alex Hughart said...

Hi, I've been reading your blog with interest as I'm a Serbian businesswoman with an American husband living in the U.S. But, of all things, the shoes prompted me to comment! What can I say, I'm a girl... I want those shoes! Are they really comfortable to wear?

Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

Wish I could tell you Alex, but I have size ten (US) feet and these shoes were way too tiny for me to try on. I am, however, considering buying a pair for decorative purposes. Just to put on a bookshelf somewhere maybe. They were really lovely.

Alex Hughart said...

I feel your pain, I'm 9.5. They'll have a better life as a decoration anyways. I remember my ethno-avanguard self coming back from Algeria wearing a pair or Berber camel-riding pants. It made sense there.