People are grievously offended by rubber slippers. Rubber slippers, flip-flops, thongs, or bathroom slippers. The latter is the mental connotation, as in something you wear to a wet bathroom. I had some two thousand rupee chappals which were fine, until they got wet and unshapely and finally, like, moldy. I have shoes, but those require socks, and it’s hot out. I really don’t understand why I can’t wear rubber slippers. Are my toes so offensive to God and man. Once I went for a homecoming of somebody I barely knew. I just showed up, in rubber slippers. It was at some local wedding hall way out past Kelaniya. Everyone was laughing at me. It was the thing. I felt horrified in the buffet line. But it’s hot out, we were in the grass, and it’s a tropical country. I don’t quite get it.
I mean, I get shoes. Shoes are important. I used to take great pride in my shoes in the west. One of my earliest memories is some childhood fantasy involving brown Adidas knockoffs. This was in Sri Lanka. I can’t tell most memories from photographs, but this was a dream and thus I know it was mine. It involved me getting these awesome shoes and then showing up at my Montesoori thing in a helicopter, getting off shoes first into the swirling dust. But I digress. Shoes are well and good, except in extreme weather. Then who cares.
In fashionable Montreal even, when the real vicious winter hit I stopped caring. Montreal actual has an underground city that you don’t have to leave. If you live in an apartment complex you can go down to the metro and supermarkets below and – with a job in another building – never leave. I didn’t have this option and I trudged to school most days. The snow is beautiful when it first falls, a pure virgin white. Then the cars come and it gets fucked, turning into a grey, depressing soup, piled in foot high piles and corroding everything it touches with much and salt. The salt. The salt simply destroys shoes. You can never keep them clean. I just gave up and wore hideous snow boots to office and changed into loafers there. After a while you just give up.
In Sri Lanka the opposite is true. First off, it’s hot. Not so hot that you can’t wear shoes, but hot enough that it’s unpleasant. Wearing clothes at all is disdainful, wearing a towel ideal, a sarong second best and anything else is just kidding yourself. This is a tropical country and pants on a human here makes about as much sense as pants on a monkey. Socks are just torment. Tight and thick cloth against your feet, and then putting the whole thing in leather. Why?
Also, when it rains, everything just goes to muck. The city of Colombo floods after a thirty minute shower. This ruins leather sandals and wet socks are a special kind of uncomfortable. The only thing that can withstand all conditions here – beach, jungle, city, wet – is a pair of rubber slippers. It is also the most taboo. Like, how dare you be sensible? Don’t you remember we were colonized by the British.
Instead, proper clubs and events require shoes. Bad shoes mind you, the guys looking down on me at that homecoming were wearing fake leather with buckles and big pimp juice collars outside their suit jackets. It’s not like we even do western formal properly. Instead of ‘smart casual’ on invites they should put ‘lounge singer’.
Recently I went for an office for a business chat with friends and they were like, why rubbers? Meh. Like I need to be itching in socks and with a shirt tuck highlighting my belly to fit in to the A/C? Why not say everyone needs to wear national and lower the electricity bill? That’s why I like Hindu kovils the best. Shirt, shoes: No service. I’ll take that dress code any day.