I’m from Germany and I’ve decided to live my life barefoot – that makes me special. What makes me even more special is that I’m living in India. It’s almost six years now that I’ve left Germany, and I’ll never forget that 27. December 2000: It was a cold winter morning, just after Christmas. I was waiting for my train to Frankfurt Airport. Some people obviously couldn’t believe what they saw: Staring at my bare feet, decorated with a leather-anklet and a shiny toe ring made of silver, they looked baffled – if not concerned... Well, that’s one thing I got used to over the years, no problem! “Being special” – back in Germany, I was always aware that I’m part of a – comparatively small – minority! Think about it: You’re spending a whole day in the city, it’s summer (forget about winter!), sunny… How many pairs of bare feet – with soles black as coal - will you spot? One? Ten? If you’re living in Europe or North America, it’ll be less than 1 %! In Australia and New Zealand, things might be slightly different, but nevertheless: Ours is a small tribe! Yes: If we’re visiting places in Cyberspace – like Yahoo Groups, MySpace or this Forum – we might be surprised HOW MANY like-minded souls we meet, but soon you’ll realize that you’re meeting the same people again and again. No, there are not MANY dedicated barefooter online – among the MILLIONS of shod people surfing the Web at any given moment! Still: We ARE not alone, EVEN in “the West”… Now, things are completely different if you’re living in one of those countries commonly summarized under the improper term “Third World”! I told you in the beginning: I’m living in India… India – it STILL means: Bare feet EVERYWHERE, especially in rural areas and the South, but also in cities and parts of the North! And I don’t think that will change within a lifetime! It’s true: In some hi-fi areas of major cities like Mumbai or Delhi you’ll almost feel like in Europe, yours being the only bare feet you’ll see within an hour. But living at the outskirts of Bangalore (India’s “IT-capital”!) I can assure you: Half of the people in my neighborhood (a typical “mixed area” with modern houses and traditional enclaves side-by-side) are barefoot throughout the year! Dusty bare feet, immune to the heat of summer, to sharp gravel and other hazards are so common a sight that you’ll hardly notice them anymore after a month or so. It’s true: I’m still getting attention for my lack of footwear, but not because I’m barefoot but because I’m a FOREIGNER (“ferengi”) who is barefoot. And reactions are almost always positive… The sad part of the (otherwise encouraging!) story is: You won’t find many of those “professional” all-time barefooter in cyberspace! It would be SO interesting to share our thoughts on “living barefoot”, to talk about the benefits etc.! So, if you’re from Asia, Africa, South America or any other corner of our world where kids grow up barefoot and don’t have to surrender to the pressure of a shod majority once they’re adults: Please contribute! I would also love to hear from other “expats” who are lucky enough to live in a place like India, a place where bare feet are still normality! One way to experience what I’ve experienced for the last six years is to travel – six month, a full “gap year”… My India-adventure started like that, as a typical barefoot-backpacker! If you’re planning a barefoot-trip, please drop in at my “BAREFOOT TRAVELLER’S TEPEE“: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/barefoottravelling/ and share your stories!