I don't remember when I first started looking at feet -I think it was during my first year in college while travelling in a "ladies' special" bus to college. As`I climbed the steps my book fell down and as I bent down to retrieve it I saw these feet making their way forward- like two tiny stuffed rabbits -soft,white with a touch of pink around the border,nails painted copper. The feet moved away and lost themselves in the crowded bus before I could look up and check if the feet had a matching face!During the 30 minute journey I kept an eye on all the feet that went through the exit door hoping to find them again. No luck! these feet were obviously travelling farther than my stop.

This was a peak hour bus and commuters on such services were usually regulars - students and office goers who invariably took the same bus day after day.So in the days that followed it became a game for me to look for these feet and eventually I spotted the owner and if you must know, the search was not worth it. She had a very uninteresting face - very fair skin,lifeless eyes, didn't look like she ever smiled and seemed suspicious of everyone. Thereafter the half hour bus journey became more interesting as I would first look at the feet and conjure up a face matching those feet and then look up to check how close I was. Some owners of neglected feet had faces carefully made up, some had very ordinary feet but very pretty faces, some of the most beautiful feet were in the least flattering footwear even though the rest of the costume would be carefully chosen- only very few people were endowed with feet as pretty as their faces and even less number of people cared for their feet as much as their faces. But of course this was 1974 - for the middle class, beauty parlours were places to visit only for bridal make up. Tweezing eye brows was just becoming the fashion and you had to be rich to be able to afford facials and manicures and so pedicures came way down in the list! if you cared about your feet, you applied cream from milk or curd for softening, or soaked feet in warm salted water and then used soap for cleansing, and the rough granite surface of the washing stone was ideal for rubbing feet to get rid of dead skin. And then you slipped these feet into plastic or rubber slippers (leather was too expensive for daily "rough" use!)And we had just a pair of slippers at a point of time while some had an extra pair for occasions.

Even today while waiting at the doctor's clinic or any place where slippers are arranged, I slip back into the habit of making a mental image of the owner - height, weight,age, dress etc. If I am lucky I get to verify my image with the original and I seem to be getting better in my judgement over the years. Except this one time when I saw this lady come out the doctor's consultation room and slipped her feet into an enormous pair of men's slippers. The shock almost killed me!

It is perhaps because of this curious habit of mine that I get very self conscious if anyone looks at my feet - I immediately try to hide them under the sari ( saris are very useful this way) or try something to distract eyeballs away from my feet as I am suspicious that the viewer is trying to judge me from my feet. (what do they say about a thief knowing another thief better!) I do have a friend who shares my fascination with feet but she doesn't stop with looking at them. She photographs them. Read about it here.
Little wonder then that it was she who spotted me wearing Hawaii chappals to the French class and with mismatched straps to boot! I must be really fond of life - anyone else in my place would have jumped out of the window that day!
So that was my punishment for having judged people by their feet and footwear all these years!So have I stopped it now?? No, I am hooked and now it is impossible - My eyes and mind get totally out of control when they see slippers and feet.
Foot gazers anonymous, anyone?
25 Responses
  1. rads Says:

    lol, I sorta do *sheepish grin* ..but I'd imagien a notch less than you :p

    Your 1st para reminded me of 'Pakeezah' scene. You know here he sees her feet in the train and falls in love with her? hehe

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I never gazed at people's feet, unless I accidentally spotted an interesting footwear, but it seems I have suddenly become very conscious of my feet!

  3. Altoid Says:

    Note to self : Dont wear open toed sandals while meeting Usha(cover-up for a very conscious missing toe nail!!!! )

    :D while I dont gaze at feet, I do sometimes glance at the footwear, specially if its something I'd like to add to my collection!

  4. Shruthi Says:

    OMG! I don't believe it! There are people like me, praise the heavens above!!
    I am probably the most prominent member of the Foodgazers Anon. I so watch feet.. and I judge people on how they maintain their feet too :D I feel feet have character - and.. and.... you know, I have so much to write about this, perhaps I should do a post on this myself.

  5. Paavai Says:

    I remember sanjay dutt mentioning in one of his interviews that he finds nice looking feet of women very appealing to him :)- so have company

  6. me me me! I look at footwear tho. is it matched to the clothes? Are they clean? Tidy? Comfortable? And thats how I try and understand the personality of the person wearing the footwear.
    My own feet (in absolutely comfortable slip-ons) deserve a pedicure tho :)

  7. Unknown Says:

    ok ok!! guilty as charged!
    I am really bad in that aspect..the first thing my gaze travels to is usually footwear..I thought I was the weird one..apaprently not..yay
    and people ask me why I blog!

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Interesting post...true we tend to judge people with the appearance of their foot, footwears.. About cleanliness, just think about a person who have just walked across bangalore roads in heavy rains..
    I recently heard people used to guage the luck of a person looking at the way the feet is ? The flat feet, hallow feet relating to luck/unluck.. When prospective grooms visit girls , this is one feature that their mom's would look for itseems....
    Many a times, I walk on my wet-foot and gaze at the mark it has left on the floor and try to make out how neat the image that was formed :-) and me and my sis used to compare whose looked better....Really crazy!!

  9. Pradeep Nair Says:

    Never really thought about this angle!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    came here blog hopping and enjoyed reading some of your recent posts :-)

    Do you mind if I bookmark you ?

  11. I love feet too... there's something so feminine about nice toenails, smooth, soft heels and slim ankles. My heels can almost be used for a before ad of Krack cream every once in a month before I scrub and scrub at those offending cracks! Not so bad, but not so good either.. :-(

    And I think I should introduce you to my sister. :-D The first thing she looks for in a person is feet! It used to be almost an obsession.

  12. Choxbox Says:

    it was the done thing to wear mismatched hawaii slippers (preferably broken and kept together with a safety pin) when i was at college. if you wore anything fancier you actually got boo-ed!
    like this batchmate's sister says we got scarred for life after 4 years there and have no dress sense left :)

  13. ~*sim*~ Says:

    my father says he can read personalities from feet and toenails. if i haven't had a pedicure recently he gets cranky and starts demanding that i go get one ASAP. he feels it reflects badly on him as a parent! i suspect he would examine my boyfriends' feet too if he had the chance. better than staring at their faces in awkward silence :P the last guy i dated is muslim (big no-no for me according to them), but had the most beautiful, slender, and well-kept feet. wonder what my dad would say to *that* combination!

  14. Swati Says:

    I admire ppl with beautiful feet and I wish to have like them , but I am too lazy to continue the effort needed.

  15. WhatsInAName Says:

    Those how live in glass houses... etc etc...
    I can never judge others by their feet since mine are BAD... in caps and bolded.
    Your writeup jolted me out of sleep. I better get pedicure done TODAY ! :)

  16. 'Agathin azhagu', as the saying goes, 'mugathil theriyum', pathathil theriyuma? (Face they say, is the index of mind, can feet be?)!
    When it comes to feet...some memories stand out. For instance the free foot massage offered by the warm granite slabs in the outer prakarams of the temples...

  17. Mahadevan Says:

    It is no exaggeration. I felt as if I was reading a piece by G.K.Chesterton or A.G.Gardiner.
    Honest, realistic and an undertone of humour,couched in well selected words - an example of raising the ridiculous to the sublime.

    I would place this in one of your top tens.

  18. Usha Says:

    Rads: I guess it started as something to pass time during the journey in the early days when one did not have many friends in the bus and stayed as a habit.
    No have not seen Pakeezah - now curious to see.

    Chaitra:uhoh.. didn't mean to do that!

    altoid:No my whole curiosity is when I haven't seen the face - I try to draw a mental picture of the unseen/ unknown face from the seen feet or slippers!
    As for footwear collection - never owned more than two pairs at any given point of time - one brown one black!

    Shrithi: Look forward to the post. Me a food gazer too!

    Paavai: really! I actually like that guy post Munnabhai avtar. I actually seem to have lot of company going by these comments.

    StS:::) tell us more about it - the parameters for judging.

    Random:hehe...I know, after blogging, I have also discovered a lot of things that others share with me which I thought was weird about me.It is like group therapy!

    Veena: Ya I am not uncharitable towards people who have had the misfirtune of walking on bangalore roads - My interest is more in trying to work out how they might look, their age, the dress that might go with the pair of slippers etc.not really the personality traits.

    Pradeep: Oh I am weird.

    2b's mom:Thank you. Keep visiting. And sure you may.

    JLT:I have the heel crack prob too.
    with the recent scrubbing I have small pits in my heel...sob..sob.

    Choxbox:Ah really....some kind of inverted snobbery?

    Sim:You must let us know what he thinks. :)

    Swati:That is me.

    WIN: glass house funda.
    I have friends who say a pedicure is very relaxing to the mind and I think they spend about 50 dollars on it plus tips.

    bala:mmm. Agathin azhagu theriyumo theriyado veetin ( the other agam) azhagu theriyum padam azhukaga irundal. soothing, those granite slabs.

    mahadevan: Thank you.

  19. A.R.Malik Says:


    Just when you think think you know someone, they reveal they're foot fetishists!

  20. Pillpopper Says:

    usha, that was a scary blog. I have a pair of the ugliest broadest feet in christendom. Please pretty please if and when we meet do not judge me by my feet.

  21. Choxbox Says:

    inverted snobbery is too complicated an emotion for the bunch of simpletons i'm talking abt! more like slobbery and laziness i think!

  22. Lavs Says:

    My cousin used to footgaze at weddings. She always said that though aunties decked themselves
    elaborately, they would wear hawai chappals over Kancheevaram silks. She always used to mock at them.
    Hence whenever I am around her, I wear proper sandals to match my dresses!! But then she does not
    know about those aunties who have lost their costly sandals at weddings.

  23. Usha Says:

    Abhilash: Haven't you heard that wise saying - you never really know anyone!

    Pillpopper:hahah..wait till you see mine!

    Choxbox:Ah ok! :)Now that, I understand!!

    lavs:I think some people make aprofession of attending weddings to steal nice slippers!

  24. Anonymous Says:

    ahh..i do that too! especially in lifts..i believe we can actually say a lot about people fom their footwear and feet :D it may be wrong...but a possibility nevertheless.. :)