28/06/2015 8:34 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Sole Searching

Floresco Productions via Getty Images
Woman in department store trying on shoes

A woman, they say, can carry a bag, but it is the shoe that carries a woman. The shoe fetish comes naturally to every woman and her mother. Sometimes I wonder if oestrogen has some karmic connection with our straps and soles. Whoever thinks otherwise never wallowed in the misery of not finding a matching pair for that red dress.

It is not mindless, this fetish of ours. We need Mojari's for salwars, chappals for churidars, wedges for trousers, stilettos for dresses, boots for winter, flip-flops for daily wear, pumps for travel, shiny straps for weddings and ballerinas, well - for change.

"And unlike unread books or unworn silk, unworn shoes do not hurt our conscience. Thank you. We are like this only."

The entire exercise of trying several pairs, fretting about the right size and requesting the salesman to take out the matching pair, contribute towards some sort of contentment. Research is not wrong when it tells us that buying shoes is like buying feelings. Indeed, it is. Think of the delicious kick you get when you pick a pack of chocolates even though you were actually shopping for dog food. You don't need it. And yet, you buy it. More often than not, we women are not driven by the need factor. Just the experience of shoe shopping can be exhilarating. How do I explain this? Let's say, the anticipation of the joy of buying footwear is more joyful than the actual buying part. Like the thrill of admiring a sports car. You want to own it, but the thought of owning is equally joyous. It's like a sensation as nebulous as air. You can't see it, but you can feel it.

Coming back to feelings, don't discount a deluge of despair on spotting those eight inch golden minarets. Many moons ago, there was a time when I was able to carry them with amazing ease. Not anymore. I know why it is difficult for men to grasp this, because they can pretty much wear the same shoe at eighteen and at sixty. Moreover, we women love heels because a desirable pair makes us feel tall, poised, and sexy. So even if we are a five feet nothing, in heels, we stand tall - like Alia Bhatt, revelling in the joy of being a woman. And unlike unread books or unworn silk, unworn shoes do not hurt our conscience. Thank you. We are like this only.

So each time I saunter in a shoe shop, my husband appears clueless. He is not able to fathom what the hell his wife is thinking. Anyway, shopping for him is as much fun as watching the grass grow. On days when his cup of shoe shopping woes runneth over, he asks, "Why do you want a new one? What's the issue with the one you are wearing? Not comfortable?"

Since comfort has nothing to do with shoe shopping, he gets the 'look'. Those who are married know what I mean. The 'look' is a stare that essentially translates to, "You won't get the logic, so stay away." On one of those rare occasions when he is really pissed, he quips, "How many times have I told you to wear walking shoes while shopping." At which point, I take a deep breath and begin counting backwards. Ten, nine, eight...

"Why don't you check out the electronic store and I'll join you in a bit?"

More often than not, the trick works.

So if you wish to enlighten me with sole searching quotes like, 'I wept because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet'; know that I am not a monk. And I own much less than the average of fifteen pair of shoes owned by women worldwide.

(This post originally appeared on Freebird)