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India on bare soles

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1. Posted by Barefooter (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Barefooter has indicated that this thread is about India

Having left Europe for good I’m living in India. I'm always barefoot: All-year-round, wherever I go, whatever I do. For me, being barefoot isn’t just a fashion statement: It’s a lifestyle, a way to express myself… And of course an amazing sensual experience: Walking barefoot I’m far more “in touch”.
Living barefoot is great but what I love even more is TRAVELLING barefoot! I’m travelling a lot and I’ve virtually explored every nook and corner of India on my bare soles! It’s exciting to roam around without any footwear in my backpack, trusting in my leather-like soles toughened over many years. It’s exciting to be constantly in touch, to FEEL the country, to experience every change in temperature or texture of the ground! And it’s SO communicative: Every now and then somebody asks me “why are you wearing no shoes?”, and here in India, the reactions are almost always positive if I explain the advantages of a barefoot lifestyle. Especially in the South where something like a “barefoot culture” still exists. Meeting other barefoot traveller is always fun – we immediately know we’ve something in common!
And by the way: Even if quite a few people in the West are gravely concerned about “health risks”, especially if it comes to barefoot travelling in countries like India – I can assure you I’ve not faced a single problem throughout the years! I’ve been travelling barefoot since my schooldays and there’s nothing my bare soles didn’t get exposed too but I haven’t caught ANY of those countless diseases which fill the pages of guidebooks and travel-related Web forums! I suppose once the soles have turned into a sort of “living leather” the risk of catching something through hand-contact are by far more serious, but even then I’m trusting in my natural immune system and am not tempted at all to wear gloves!
I know I’m not the only barefoot traveller - I’ve met some like-minded souls out there, on the roads. But only every now and then… The web might be a good place to get in touch. Let’s share our experiences!

-snip-

[ Edit: sorry, no promos in the forum please ]

2. Posted by newguy (Full Member 197 posts) 11y

Quoting Barefooter

I know I’m not the only barefoot traveller - I’ve met some like-minded souls out there, on the roads. But only every now and then… The web might be a good place to get in touch. Let’s share our experiences!

I know of a friend's brother who went to Thailand to walk barefoot with the monks there on some expedition. He's a staunch Buddhist obviously. From your description, it sounds fun to me. But is it rude of me to ask for a photo of your feet? I can be a pussyfoot when it comes to things like that.

Take care and enjoy.

3. Posted by wouterrr (Travel Guru 3379 posts) 11y

What happens to you when you have to wear shoes, must be a nightmare for you ........but respect for you (I never would do it, though)!!! Why did you leave your home country? Do you want to live like the poor in India? Do you sleep on the streets as the very poor do?

4. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Do you feel more as one with the universe?

5. Posted by mim (Travel Guru 1276 posts) 11y

I did a lot bare foot, In Pushkar in Rajasthan I was accused of stealing energy through my feet!

Although I got a leech in the foothilsbleeeeeuuuuuuurrrghhh!

6. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

When I was in NZ, everywhere I went there were people walking barefoot - on the sidewalks, in the shopping malls, going their groceries, you name it. It was strange. Although there are certain parts of Florida where retired Quebec couples can aparently be seen strolling everywhere in ill-fitting bathing suits. To each his own, I guess.

7. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 11y

Quoting mim

...leech...

Pun intented???

8. Posted by Barefooter (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

The mere thought that somebody out there enjoys travelling throughout India without ever wearing any kind of footwear (except one or two anklets and a toe ring!) might seem strange for some of you… But giving it a second thought you might even get inspired! Inspiring you to give it a try, to experience the joys and the freedom of travelling barefoot – that’s my goal, that’s why I’m posting this thread! Is travelling barefoot difficult? And is it worth it? To answer these questions, let me share my latest barefoot experiences with you:

Recently I went for some extensive hiking in the Indian Himalayas. I know: Many of you wouldn’t even think about walking barefoot up there! But believe me: It was SO much fun! I didn’t carry any shoes, not even in my backpack. I enjoyed every minute of the trip on my bare soles… The trek to the source of the Ganges river was a special experience: 36 km (18 km one way) of mountain trails, two nights in an open tent… Climbing over countless rocks, wading through ice-cold rivulets… Crossing little patches of snow… Many interesting sensations for my well-trained bare feet! Yes, it’s all about additional sensual experiences – that’s what makes living, travelling and hiking barefoot so special! Feeling the rough granite beneath my soles, crossing a muddy meadow, patches of snow and little streams providing some refreshment… Tired feet are unknown to me, even after many kilometres of brisk hiking! That’s one big advantage of hiking barefoot… And there is the way I experience temperature: Nights are quite chilly up there (the thermometer once dropped to -2 ° C), but during daytime, things change quickly as soon as the first rays of the sun are touching the ground! It’s amazing to be able to FEEL the difference between a shady and sunny section of the trail! What else? There are the “encounters” – with other tourists, with locals, with pilgrims from all-over India… Some funny comments… On the way up to the source of the Ganges, 1 km before reaching the mighty glacier from where the stream origins, I asked a tourist if I was still on the right way. He replied that I’ll reach my destination soon – adding: “If your bare feet are strong enough”! I was spending the night in an open tent together with other hikers. The morning was quite chilly, and while having a cup of chai, a girl from Tel Aviv admired my ability to “stay bare” in the cold! She told me she would love to do the hike barefoot too, and I assured her that after a few weeks of travelling barefoot, she’ll be able to do things like that without ever having to bother about her feet. On my way back I passed a couple in their early 30ies. The husband looked a bit surprised, spotting my tanned bare feet, but his wife gave me a big smile, saying: “Barefoot – that’s great”. Reaching the little town of Gangotri, the sky became more and more cloudy (after three days of almost uninterrupted sunshine), and the next morning it was rainy with temperatures below 10 ° C. Mine where the only pair of bare feet in the whole town (apart from some sadhus!), and I got many comments, both from tourists and Indians: “Where are your shoes?”, “That must be cold”, “You’ll catch a cold” and things like that… More than one shopkeeper desperately tried to sell me a pair of sandals, even following me a few metre out in the rain… I didn’t care, and after 20 to 30 minutes of more or less brisk walking, my well-trained feet managed to adjust to the cold, a healthy reddish complexion and warm feeling assuring me that everything was all right!
Only three month later, my leathery soles got exposed to the hot streets of South India! It’s true: Black tarmac can get quite hot on a sunny day. But being an experienced long-time barefooter, I’m even able to stroll around at noon or in the early afternoon without feeling uncomfortable. And obviously, I’m not the only one: Visit Kerala or Tamil Nadu and you’ll see loads of barefoot people in the streets, especially in rural areas but also in the cities! I’ve met people (online, not on the road) trying to convince me that my barefoot lifestyle is actually “offensive” IN THE INDIAN CONTEXT. My habit of walking barefoot is “a sign of disrespect” considering that I’m obviously able to “afford shoes” – that’s how they argue… Well, I can ensure everybody: THAT’S CRAP! Fortunately, freeing their feet from imprisonment isn’t a privilege of the poor! At least in South India… Many people down here CAN afford footwear – buying a pair of flip-flops isn’t a big deal anyway, except you’re virtually penniless – but opt for a barefoot life ‘cause they feel more comfortable, consider the therapeutically aspects (high bp, reflex zones…) or simply don’t see a point in using a few straps of leather or plastic to confine their feet. Let me remind you what M.F. Hussain, India’s celebrated modern painter (a multimillionaire – crorepati!) says about his OWN habit of going barefoot EVERYWHERE: “It started for purely health reasons. As acupressure is great for the feet I opted out of footwear. And as a result even today I can sit for long hours on the floor .It is almost 40 years now that I am barefoot. Earlier people laughed. Now they have accepted me as I am. I even go to Parliament without shoes. In fact in our country removing your footwear is a mark of respect. Be it at home or a place of worship we go in barefoot.”
By the way: In India itself I’m hardly encountering ANY negative reaction! People are only curious if they see a foreigner strolling around barefoot. Some ARE concerned, but only because they think I’m not experienced enough! It’s not that difficult to convince them… Makes me remembering an incident in Fort Cochin (Kerala) – an incident you might very well call typical: It was a hot and sunny afternoon and I was exploring downtown Fort Cochin. Seeing my bare feet, an auto rickshaw driver stopped me, asking “isn’t it too hot for you to walk barefoot?”. I said: “No, I’m used to it. I’m always barefoot.” “Your soles must be strong!” (hesitating a moment) “I don’t believe! Show me!” I did and he carefully examined both my forefoot and heel. Feeling the leathery skin of my calloused soles, he smiled, saying: “I think they ARE strong enough!” This wasn’t the first time! Having travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres on India’s dusty roads, many locals asked me to show them my soles, curiously examining the layers of “living leather” and calluses protecting me from almost everything one can encounter! And more than once I’ve been asked for an instant demonstration, mentioning that my soles are so tough that I can even put out a cigarette on them…
Living, hiking and travelling barefoot is an all-round experience and at the same time very communicative! Try it yourself! Free your feet and keep ‘em bare!

9. Posted by TylerTy (Budding Member 15 posts) 11y

Question: If you were to ever re-visit Europe, do you think you will put shoes on again, or would you stick to going barefoot?

It is quite impressive that you hiked barefoot and I am really suprised that your feet can now stand so much punishment.

Good for you!!!

10. Posted by Barefooter (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Wouterrr: You’re right: Wearing shoes again would be a nightmare! Over the years, my feet have widened quite a bit, and there is that gap between my big toes and the next toe which is a common sign of a barefoot lifestyle! Wearing shoes is unnatural, and after a year or so on bare soles, our feet regain their natural shape… Shoes simply don’t fit anymore! Well, don’t think I’ll ever need them again! Why I’m living in India? People are much more caring down here, friends are mostly closer friends… many reasons!
TylerTy: If visiting Europe I’m staying bare. Lower temperatures don’t bother me and my self-confidence is strong enough that I can cope with those few looks and comments I might get!