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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Obsessive Cleanliness Disorder

Hop over to Hip Hop's to read this post about queer people with OCD on Cleanliness.
It is strange to see such high levels of obsessive behaviour- so much that one doesn't even care about the comfort of the people living in the house.
To me the concept of cleanliness itself has evolved over a period of time. I come from the Northern part of India where it is not uncommon to walk all over the house with your "outside" shoes/ slippers. I never really thought it to be dirty especially because we do not really use the floor for sitting/ sleeping or preparatory cooking. And moreover, the weather does not permit us to walk bare foot at all.
When I landed up in the South, I was majorly irked by the concept of leaving the sandals outside - it is very common for North Indians to joke- wear any slippers and go, anyway you have to walk bare foot inside the house, so what's the point in wearing your strappy sandals to a party.
Or stuff like- I went inside and could feel all eyes on my feet- then I realized that I have walked in with my sandals.
Just imagine a new year bash inside someone's house and you saunter in a mini skirt, fashionable jewels and ahem... bare foot because you are forced to leave your chik sandals outside the door. Most annoying. Thankfully I haven't had an opportunity to attend such funky dos at anyone's home.
And more than anything else, half my self confidence goes off if my footwear is not right, or to rightly put it - absent.

When I first set home here, I did not have "rules" like shoes outside. But as per the practice here, people would leave their footwear outside before walking in, even when I explicitly told them to wear them inside. I found people happily plonking down on the floor when they came home. When kids happened and they were crawling all over the place, putting stuff including slippers in their mouth, the cleanliness dragon within me got unleashed. Today the rule is all sandals outside in the shoe rack that got specially built outside the main door like it happens in all decent self respecting South Indian homes! So I have finally joined the club!

But, the question I ask is- by keeping sandals outside can one really claim that the house is spotless? I have walked into "no chappal inside homes" and have come out with grime in my foot that takes a good scrub with soap and pumice stone to come off. I have seen people with feet that leave black marks all over because they walk bare foot in their homes.

And I have seen homes where you can eat out of the floor. Now that is the place I would inspite of myself, hesitate to walk in with grimy shoes.

Since I live in the ground floor, the dust flies in faster. You can find me obsessively mopping the floor whenever I see my kids' feet get even slightly blackened with dirt. Because I don't want any one to walk into my house bare foot and go back to their homes with dirt. To me it is the most disgusting thing that could happen to someone.

But of course, it only takes a demo from a vacuum cleaning company to make you realize how dirty your home is.
Infact a new outfit of homecleaning system that would make us poorer by a lakh rupees was demonstrated in our house. He talked about a continuous system that keeps sucking dust particles flying in the air.
I had one question for him- while all this sounds very good, what about when I am outside my home, do I carry this with me all around?
What do you think of shops that request you to leave your sandals outside?
Simple- I stop shopping there!


Hip Grandma said...

Ha, ha! the southie in me makes me remove my slippers outside even if I am granted permission to wear them. I understand what you mean. In a country like ours where peeing in public and spitting paan in corridors is taken in one's stride the few cleanliness freaks don't have much of a chance i feel. pollution has become a part of our chalta hai life style.anyway a balance/midway between extreme cleanliness and utter filth can and should always be maintained.

Anonymous said...

Is not that the reason why you are not allowed to wear the shows that you use outside? It is not really hygenic... forget about dust or black floor. You might have stepped on someone's excretion or what not!!! atleast if you leave the shoes outside.. those things are not coming with you inside. you keep a separate pair of shoes to wear inside the house...

Itchingtowrite said...

Hip hop G mom- exactly-we live in so much pollution hat no matter how clean u keep your house, u r likely to pick up grime from places other than your home.

anon from Tennesse? normally I do not like to reply to anon comments but in this case- yes, which is the reason why we leave shoes outside but then it is also the responsibility of the host to ensure that when I step in without my shoes- a) u either ensure that i do not blacken my soles when I step in your house and carry your dirt with me or b) u give me a pair of chappals becoz naturally u do not want me to carry my indoor slippers everytime I come to visit you.

How do we know said...

ha ha.. i grew up in the South and much prefer the no chappals policy at home. In Delhi winters, we have socks on all the time. Those who are not used to being without footwear can pick up one of the chappals just inside the door. But visitors are typically encouraged to wear their shoes inside. But its very personal. I just cannot wear outside chappals inside the house and vice versa. :-)

the mad momma said...

post after my own heart.
how can you guarantee that your house is clean? i've ruined pedicured feet by stepping into wet loos or kitchens where they've spilled food on the floor. to say nothing of the fact that my saree goes down two inches if i take off my heels.
hosts who want me to take off my shoes are saying their floor is more important than my comfort.
and in the good old day when we ate on the floor it might have had some use, but today whats the big deal with my shoes? arent you planning to sweep and swab tomorrow? :D

starry eyed said...

What about the doctor's clinics and certain hospital rooms where the docs happily wear their enormous boots and slippers, but the (sick) patients have to take them off. Are doctor's shoe germs safe, then? :P

By the way, OCD is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but yeah one of the compulsions is with cleanliness!

Itchingtowrite said...

How do we know- all conditioning i know!!! u know in small homes it is still possible to do away with chappals, but in large homes, impossible to walk around without them. and impossible to keep cleaning them up.
MM_ exactly. I hate getting into 'others' loos without slippers. but, also, i feel bad if my slippers dirty the loos. I wipe them compulsively before getting inside.. i hate leaving black patches inside the loo.

starry- i know.... the ped insists the slippers hav to be removed outside for the kids. not for us. i think because he checks weight and doesn't want parents to hassle over the chappal wearing inside the room. i punned over the word OCD substituting it with cleanliness

fieryblaster said...

It is not abt keeping floor clean but something else. we southies happily sit on floor, eat our food sitting on the floor and do pooja sitting on the floor(that i think evrybody does) so for us, the floor needs to be clean devoid of any outside excreta as mentioned in the earlier comment. ofcourse if homes are just used for entertaining others and parties, then we need to give a rethought. for me, home is my personal space and i want it without chappals be it outside or inside:)