Humour: On the scale of Carrie Bradshaw to M. F. Husain, where would you plot your pedi-identity?
The world is clearly divided into two kinds of people. One is represented by the shoe-obsessed Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City; the other by the barefoot maestro M. F. Husain. Let me apologise at once for yoking the two personalities together, but it’s imperative that we have a strong, visual conception of the matter at hand. Imagine the vivacious Sarah Jessica Parker, dripping oomph like your struggling AC does condensation. Then visualise the stark simplicity of the exiled artist in white. Now plot your own pedi-identity along this continuum. Take a moment to process this toe-curling question before we stride ahead.
So let’s examine the Carrie Bradshaw type. Here’s a human specimen that believes shoes deserve their own closet. Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, she of the 3,000 pairs of shoes, is the extreme manifestation of this breed. Shine and glitz. Beads and feathers. Straps and buttons. Fashion natives whose lives, sartorial and otherwise, are propped up on their constantly changing footwear. As proud of their Jimmy Choo and Steve Madden acquisitions as they are of their Linking Road or Phuket purchases, they discuss the sneakiness of sneakers and the bootiness of boots with a mad passion. Shoe-bitten and guilt-ridden, they make their way through the urban jungle, waiting to be asked “Where did you get those beauties?”
Every now and then these inventive Bradshaws bring a smile to the face of us Husains. I for one can’t get enough of the sari-and-sneaker combo, exemplified by so many famously fashionable women. Pure genius, from the crease on a cotton pallu to the bling on a lace. I tried the sneakers and flowy cotton dress pairing myself on a recent trip to Paris no less. Suffice it to say I lacked the je ne sais quoi required to pull it off. Irrespective of the feedback I received from heartless friends, Eiffel in love with the look myself.
From penniless musicians to harried homemakers, the list of those unenthused by foot fashion is as long as an overused stocking. Not for us the clicking of petite heels or the brushing of fancy leather. For this footloose band, three pairs of serviceable footwear at any time is the upper limit; anything more is unnecessary. Let me list the staples. The mandatory slip-ons. The sporty trainers. The all-purpose party pair. And that, my friends, is it.
Of course, my tribe draws pitying looks from shoe enthusiasts. They look at us like we’re either communists or cultists, miserly or broke, unable to wrap their feet around the idea that we’re just not into it! And so we’re ascribed all manner of moral failings, accused of being contrarians and even thought to be devoid of imagination. We receive these slurs just like we receive the hand-me-downs of our insistent friends: with a Buddha-like equanimity. With mismatched socks and untied laces we plod on, unencumbered by questions like “block heels or stilettos this season?”I take this opportunity to tell those on the other side of the footbridge – we have not given up on life. Do not judge us by our unadorned feet. It’s just that fashion is our Achilles’ heel.
From fancy pedicures to indulgent foot spas, the foot fetish only seems to be growing. I’ll admit to the decadent pleasures of a Thai foot massage, where the boundaries of the acceptable and the almost borderline creepy kneading are seriously blurred. (In Hong Kong I was thrown out of a foot spa whose services I had naively misinterpreted as chaste.) By the time the hot towel is wrapped around a pummelled leg, all is usually forgiven. And thence to a cup of herbal tea and bowl of cold fruit.
It’s that time of year when the two categories of humans indulge in some end of the year stock-taking. The Bradshaws are carefully examining the contents of their cupboards, wondering which party outfits need the enhancement of a new pair of shoes. The Husains, meanwhile, have realised the post-monsoon fungus on their Kolhapuris is not, in fact, treatable and are dragging their feet about acquiring a new pair. Happy landings to us all!
Rehana Munir’s debut novel Paper Moon is now on stands
From HT Brunch, December 1, 2019
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