When an odd job or two needs to be done around our place, my mum welcomes the likes of contractors, plumbers and furniture delivery men into our Melbourne flat.
When she opens the door, these Caucasian handymen and tradesmen always politely ask, “Do we take our shoes off?”
And to my utter surprise and disbelief, each time my mum cheerily says, “No, no, no! It’s OK! Come in! Leave your shoes on!”
This is because if I came home and stampeded around the house in my sneakers or slippers, my mum would give me an earful.
It is customary in many Asian cultures, and Middle Eastern, Indian and African cultures as well, to remove footwear before entering the house. Very seldom will you hear an Asian person telling you to leave your shoes outside before stepping into their house. I guess my mum is a bizarre exception, at least towards our visiting Caucasian acquaintances, and I will explain later.