well that was the initial plan, but apparently this become a scattered space of my inconsistent ramble and incoherent mumble. I write my heart out, I throw my anger and frustation, I jotted my hopes and dreams, I record my random thoughts here

February 26, 2009

barefoot brisbane

So i take my time getting lost in the city and trying to figured my way back and all these times, i see things thats a bit unusual for me.. like.. i see lots of people walking around barefoot, the first sight was this girl in the airport, she was carrying a big backpack and walk barefoot around the airport, so i thought she lost her shoes or something, but then i saw similar sight in the sidewalk, in and around the city centre, and especially around the university. i saw the sign in QUT campus library about this things, i cant really remember how it sound, *i forget to take the picture of this sign, but i would, later* but i think its something like you have to wear a sandal to enter or no barefoot allowed or somethings, which i think was weird, because at first i thought, who would walk around barefoot? unless you're at home? I mean, In Malaysia, or Indonesia, you wouldn't find a single soul went barefoot to the mall, unless they're GILA *indonesian word for crazy* or something. And, i think, those people wont be allowed to go inside the shopping mall. And in USM *a uni in malaysia, where i went for my undergraduate*, let alone barefoot, you wont even allowed to enter the library and international office if you wear a pair of flip flops! I think this barefoot thingy is like a tie-die fashion in Jakarta, where lots of people (not everyone) were doing it, i mean, wearing it, well, whatever the adjectives are. I thought about taking picture of these people, especially when i saw a lady with her two boys pushing a baby cart walk barefooted in the train station, but i dont know how far manner goes on here, i dont really want to offend anyone with my camera. i was so curious about this so i ask my host, Josh, and he asked me "Why not? the streets are clean.." i put on the bizarre look then he explained to me that its just a way for people to express their freedom, by not wearing any footwear, and they might would like to not wear their clothes either, but it would be illegal, so as far as the law goes, going barefooted is still legal, sort of. I laugh on this explanation. well it make sense, probably the street in oz is clean enough so people could go barefoot and doesnt need to worry that they step on something nasty or sharp or even worse: get a worm infection. well, whatever that is, if these people would ever ask my opinion, i'd say just dont do it in Indonesia! or probably someone could give me another explanation?


Anonymous said...

This is going to be a bit long - but please read it. You must be quite young and know very little about the recent past, especially in other countries, and it sounds like Malaysian and Indonesian culture is very conformist and people worry way too much about what everyone else thinks. Australia today, and New Zealand today are still like America was during the 1970s, when it comes to going barefoot. At that time going barefoot was in style, mostly any young woman with even a slightly rebellious attitude would go barefoot almost anywhere during the summer, and a lower percentage of young men would do the same, often going in public without shirts as well. Before the 1960s, in the USA, many children liked to go barefoot when playing outside, some teenagers did, and it was generally tolerated. But adults in general did not, but many had fond memories of carefree barefoot summers, and hating to have to put shoes on in September when school started. They did it for the obvious reason that it feels good, is fun, and that is what summer is about - freedom. It amazes me that you cannot even comprehend that concept - that the culture you come from, (and time we are living in) apparently frowns upon something as simple as going barefoot that it would never even be imagined. I assume your country associates going barefoot with being poor, and that people worry so much about what everyone else thinks that they will sacrifice comfort for conformity. But, back to the U.S. - in the late 1960's, if you are not aware of what happened in America, a large percentage of young people, in their teens and twenties, rebelled against the social norms, cultural norms, and opinions of their parents and grandparents generation. For most of the 20th century, adults got dressed up when going out, wore hats out in public, men had short hair and were clean shaven, behaved in a certain conforming manner, and the new generation of the 1960s tried doing everything that was opposite of what was considered "normal". And the greatest disagreement was about the Vietnam war. Most of the conservative older generation was supporting the war, and most of the young people wanted peace, and were sick and tired of the thousands of American soldiers dying for no apparent reason, with the war not being won and so many lives being wasted. Many of these young people began to dress differently, wear their hair differently, listen to music the older people found shocking, and many went barefoot everywhere. These "hippies", as the media called them, had long hair, did not shave, dressed in clothing that would never be considered appropriate during most of the 20th century before this time. They tried to create their own style, attitude, and way of life that did not conform to what was considered "normal", or what the fashion industry said should be. It was all about rightfully questioning authority and making the statement that people in a free society are not supposed to be judged by how they dress, how they wear thier hair, or any other superpficial charachteristic, but by how they treat others and the content of their character. Many businesses during the late 1960s refused to service anyone with long hair, who dressed in an non mainstream manner, or was barefoot, because they automatically assumed people who look like that were part of the anti-war movement. But by 1970 and 1971, as is usual with most new and different cultural trends, that which is radical and shocking in one decade, becomes ordinary and mainstream in the next. Now young people that were not hippies and had no particular political opinions began looking like hippies. It now became "cool" to look and dress like a hippy, so that most young men grew their hair long and many women and men started going barefoot as much as they could. (Though I remember that about 10 times more women went barefoot than men.) College campuses that had dress codes up until the 1960s began to abolish these rules in 1970, as huge numbers of students all across America violated dress codes in the name of freedom of expression. The rules were changed and thousands of college students went barefoot all over Amercan campuses, some even for their entire 4 year stay, if it was in a warm part of the country, only putting shoes one when it was time for job interviews. This often confused the older business owners, who no longer could tell the difference between an "actual" hippie and an "ordinary" young person. So signs saying "no bare feet", or "shoes and shirts required" became common, to try to keep the hippies out without sounding like they are practicing discrimination. But at that time, enough young people were going barefoot and ignoring the signs, that soon they gave up spending their whole day chasing people out of their businesses - and losing customers - that the signs just acted as a deterrent, and the hope was that this at least lessened the amount of barefoot people coming in, that hopefully at least some of them would pay attention to the signs. Then some store owner had an idea that spread quickly - he added the line at the end - "shirts and shoes required by the board of health" which made people think it was illegal to go to a store or restaurant barefoot. That was never true and it still is not true in the U.S., but most people today believe it is true, and it all dates back to the lies that were spread by some business owners at that time - all because they did not agree with their politics. During the 1970s you could see at least some barefoot people in almost any public place during the warm months of the year, stores, malls, banks, museums, airports, at any public gathering indoors or outdoors, like concerts, conventions, even some restaurants. Though it was mostly young women doing that. You would even have the strange paradox of wealthy young women living in fancy apartments in New York City, put on expensive designer clothing and walk out of their apartments barefoot to go shopping in Macy's, Bloomingdale's or Saks Fifth Avenue and buy expensive clothing and jewelry. Others that lived near the city but not in it would get on a bus or train without putting shoes on and spend the day in New York. But it all started to gradually change in the 1980s, when shoe companies began to advertise very heavily all these new types of very expensive athletic shoes, and associate them with famous athletes. Now it became "cool" to wear the latest shoe with the right label, and going barefoot began a slow decline, and by the end of the 1980s, seeing anyone barefoot in public became relatively rare. But you could still see a few people here a there doing it. By the 1990s bare feet became an even rarer sight, mostly confined to the areas in and around beach towns along the east coast and west coast of America. Many more kinds of sandals and flip-flops became available, and available in many more stores than ever before, and lots of advertising to the public made going barefoot to the new generation unpopular - and the young people of the 1990s did not even remember the time that going barefoot was popular, and most did not know that even happened. And today in America it is very hard to find anyone going barefoot outside of beach towns. And even there I see it only once in a while past the beach areas, and mostly in July and August. I assume the rest of the world is like that now as well, except for Australia and New Zealand.
And you are 100 percent right - you say that "a lady is not determined by the clothes she wears, but they things she knows." And that is exactly what the hippies were trying to tell the world back then. And going barefoot is one way to a simpler more enjoyable life - it's free, does no harm to the environment, and does not make some stupid shoe company richer.

wiza said...

Hey Anonymous,
thanks for your (indeed) long comment, i must admit, i know little about the world, but i am learning. for where i am from, going barefoot is really not common, for a social reason *what other ppl think* and for a security reason, street in jakarta is dirty, you dont really want to cut your feet or something.

been living in brisbane for two month now, i did went barefoot myself couple of time and it is indeed more comfortable than shoes.

also another 'liberating' things that i found here in australia, esp in UQ. i observed that the library, during semester, is always pack with student, with any kind of outfits from hippie-looking, monk-look,punk-look, all the way to neat and tidy look, everyone is working or studying and this, amaze me a little. back then in my undergraduate day, i dont see many "different" looking ppl in the library, those people who went to the library have the same "look", neat and tidy. how boring.

i am taking my time discovering this world and the people living in it, and i am glad there's still people like you who care enough to teach me things.


Snooty Farkleboob said...

For many of us barefoot Brisbanites it's a matter of health. Shoes have an adverse effect on the alignment of the feet, and thus, ankles, knees, and hips. They also mean that we strike the ground harder with our feet resulting in a greater likelihood of the impact injuries and arthritis. Barefoot locomotion has been associated in recent literature with better skeletal health and less walking and running related injuries. As a dancer, I make special effort to spend as much of my time out of dance shoes as barefoot as possible, to reduce the amount of damage my lower body suffers. :)

Admittedly, there are situations and places that the protection given by footwear is preferable. Parasitic worms are never friendly visitors. ;)

Anonymous said...

Well I agree but I think the list inform should have more info then it has.

Davide Vismara said...

Hello, I've lived 6 months in Brisbane and I was always and everywhere barefoot too!