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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mera Joota Hay Japani: This Has Nothing to Do With Iraq and Yet...

image from APTN video
mera joota hay japani
yeh patloon inglistani
sir pay laal topi roosi
phir bhee dil hay hindustani
shailendra - shri 420


my shoes are Japanese
this trouser is English
the red cap 'ver my head is Russian
but my heart is all Indian

Shoes had a fascination for me. (Notice the tense?)

The diabolical reason for that fascination was champagne. I had seen some actor drink champagne from his companion's red high heels. I was enamored with the companion too, but geography won over anatomical inquisitiveness by a few thousand miles - more in kilometers.

Backgrounder: Prince Henry of Prussia visited the Everleigh Club of Chicago in 1902. A dancer's shoes flew off, hit a wine bottle, spilling some champagne into the shoe. A guest at the table picked up the shoe and imbibed the wine. As if on a cue, everyone there borrowed a shoe from their companion and drank wine from it. In case the reader is fascinated with this more here.

In the mall, or on the street, passing by a shoe store, eyes inadvertently look for red high heeled shoes - whirling sleek stilettos.

And if encountered on a hourglass bombshell - double the envy. More on Kelly shortly.


Leather can be tough. It protects the animal through ravages of heat and cold and when turned into footware it can withstand the wear and tear of trudging miles upon miles.

Memory is fickle - high school or college it was - when I heard a sweet one warn a friend "jooti khao gay." Gold Rush and Charlie Chaplin aside, there was something in her tone that sent a chill up my spine even though the young lady was so diminutive.

A movie still shows Charlie Chaplin in the classic shoe-eating scene from The Gold Rush (1925). (Bettmann/Corbis)
A movie still shows Charlie Chaplin in the
classic shoe-eating scene from The Gold
Rush (1925). (Bettmann/Corbis)

The scar above my left eyebrow, comes in handy when government directives blatantly ask one to mention scars or body marks on official applications. In the pre-scan passport days they even used calligraphy to highlight this minor blemish for foreign officials.

Yes, a leather chappal caused it. She hurled it at my friend J. He ducked. Passports can reveal unusual stories sometimes. [Reading a draft of this M says, 'hmmmmmm.' - translation - so you did not fall on your face?]

Wonder what George W's passport says. He ducked today. Luckily no one was standing behind him. The shoe hurler also called him man's best friend.

I wonder if in Arab culture what is worse, calling one a dog or a pig? Yasmin can you help?

I also wonder where is Kelly LeBrock? Am not sure if it is the shoes or...


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