It’s not “often”, but “almost always”. It’s highly uncommon to wear footwear indoors (except in cold places where people have a separate set of footwear for indoor use).
In India footwear that’s been outside the house is considered dirty and unhygienic. It’s also disrespectful to wear it inside another person’s home or at temples. People would even avoid, whenever possible, carrying their footwear in hand (like in this village) or wash their hands well once they put the footwear down.
Culturally, one way to insult someone deeply in public in India is to hit them with one’s footwear (usually slippers). It’s also common, at least in some movies, that a girl who’s been harassed by a guy usually beats him up with her slippers. There have even been political incidents where someone who’s against a politician has thrown shoes or slippers at them at public gatherings (sometimes this has happened in the legislative assemblies too, where people from rival parties have done it to each other). This kind of usage seems somewhat common even in other Asian countries.
Talking about this village, a place where temperatures could be around 35°C (about 95°F) or more for many months in the year during daytime, walking barefoot may be difficult unless one is used to it. Maybe there aren’t many paved roads there either, since those could get even hotter.
That’s not an option in the tiny European country I grew up in or anywhere in Asia I’ve been.
I think it’s barbaric behavior. You literally step on vomit, needles, dog shit and what not outside and then you drag that inside your own bedroom? What the fuck.
As far as what to wear when you take your shoes off in someone’s house - there’s always slippers for guests, many pairs. Or you just walk around in your socks.
Slow down there, hyperbole.
It turns out most of the stuff you step in just won't hurt you in modern society.
And if you have pets (mainly dogs) they're going to bring some dirt in anyways.
I can understand taking off shoes on particularly muddy days, but otherwise who cares? A little dirt and grime is part of life, and exposure has been shown to be good for allergies.
India also turns out to be super dusty where people mostly walk instead of driving around in car. So the shoes are filthy too. I use to wash my sports shoes every month when I was in India. In USA I have not really washed them for years. There is simply no need.
Did I ever get thorns or glass in my foot? Yes. Did I ever regret going barefoot? No. It was completely liberating in a way that's hard to describe.
We get told on a daily basis that we should watch out for broken glass on the sidewalk, but the only (minor) foot punctures we’ve had are (1) I stepped on a fish bone in my own kitchen, and (2) my kid stepped on a thumbtack near a picnic table at the playground. (Edit: to be clear, there is regularly broken glass on the sidewalk, which we step around.)
I suppose there is some chance of not paying attention, stepping on something big and sharp, and getting a serious injury, but it frankly seems less likely than getting hit by a car. I think people are in general quite poor at evaluating and balancing risks.
In the advantages column: my kid’s “toddling” phase lasted like 2 months, and he is a faster and more graceful a walker/runner than any kids his age here. (I’m sure compared to someone in a hunting tribe he would be no better than average, but young city kids are weak and awkward.) There is so much information picked up from the ground while trying to move, and so many additional muscles in the foot/lower leg to use when not in a stiff shoe. Not being barefoot when learning to walk is a huge handicap for the little developing brain.
The only places we typically go that really insist on shoes here are occasional restaurants and the public library. More people could get away with walking barefoot in more places than they might expect.
Still, even if there were regularly needles lying around, the chances of stepping on a needle are vanishingly small. (Have you ever stepped on a needle while wearing shoes? People going barefoot are paying a lot closer attention to the ground.) The chances of picking up something from that are much smaller still. Needles pass diseases when people re-use them to inject stuff into their blood, not when they accidentally step on one.
If worried about disease, there is probably a (still very tiny but) significantly higher risk of stepping on disease-carrying poop while having a cut on the foot.
Not in Chicago! I tried it one summer (I was about to go to India and thought it'd be fun to get in the spirit), and got kicked out of every place I frequented: grocery stores, restaurants, book stores, record stores, …. I forget if I ever got in any trouble on public transit.
That's very interesting. I can imagine what you mean, because even though I take off my shoes only once or twice during the day (and at night to sleep, of course), I feel a lot of freedom or relief when I do. Washing the feet and then letting them get some air, does feel quite good, although you stop noticing it after a while, until you put shoes on again for some time and then take them off again.
I spent a few summers in my youth similarly barefoot in Virginia from June until September. I remember enjoying it, and it's something I often wish I could revisit as an adult.
I'll also ask anyone and everyone who visit my apartment to remove their footwear at the door.
This can be said about central/east europe as well, and our western european friends seem to behave like that too. And I don't mean just removing dirty heavy winter boots, I mean any boots/shoes/sandals/etc used outside.
I had an Indian colleague years ago, and she did take her shoes off at work. We'd sit down at a computer to pair on something, and she'd slip her shoes off as she sat down. I must have found that unusual, because i remember it clearly.
I have started taking my shoes off at work, but only a year or two ago. I think it's because i got a pair of heavy boots, and my feet can get too warm wearing them. I will walk to the printer in socks, but i have a pair of smart office slippers for going to the kitchen or bathroom.
My mother would say: I clean this house, someone else does it in your office!
In the US, because it makes people uncomfortable, and I have the right to do what makes me comfortable in my house, but not necessarily to do in the office what makes my co-workers uncomfortable. I do often take off my shoes when I'm in my office.
I don't know if it can be called a shoe, unless you were using the term loosely - I saw that you mentioned slides, sandals, etc. The open-ish part is right, it is an open item of footwear, see below.
Google "bata chappals images" and "hawaiian chappals images" to see two common kinds of footwear that are both informally called "chappals" in India. The former includes ones made out of leather or synthetic materials (what is called PU here, maybe polyurethane, not sure), at least for the cheaper brands (or non-brands). I dislike and never buy the PU or similar type. Feels slimy/slippery and wrong to the skin, and causes more perspiration than either rubber or leather, IME, although rubber and leather cause some too, in higher temperatures during summer.
Just as in other former colonies or areas where English influence existed, India has adapted English somewhat:
A pile of shoes at the garage entrance with no bench to put them on, or expecting you to remove shoes on the wet doormat before stepping onto the carpet inside.
In Japan there seemed to be an entire cottage industry of shoe horns, benches, stools, slippers, and mats designed for the custom. I'd need that in my home before I went all-in with no shoes.
What do you do if it is wet and muddy outside?
Do toddlers wear shoes inside as well?
So many questions...
In the older house, the one I grew up in, the front door led to an atrium where it is okay to wear shoes. But the hallways and rooms connected to the atrium were off limits for shoes. The Laundry room opened to the outside (namely, our bunny's enclosure) and we also stored some yard tools in the laundry room. It'd be inconvenient to take shoes on and off all the time when going in and out. So the laundry room is fair game for shoes.
At my apartment I do it Asian-style and take them off at the door because there is no natural boundary and because San Francisco streets are especially filthy.
So the answer is: it's chaos and there are no rules.
I like the respect angle though. Far too many people throw their trash on the ground. If not wearing shoes outside makes them rethink their actions I'm all for it.
Edit: Downvoters were mortified.
I guess the real question is, who wears shoes under their bed covers?
It also seems a natural progression from walking around the house to laying on the bed to answer some texts.
I do it less in the winter or when it's raining. In that case I don't bother and leave them in the entry way.