What would shoes designed for contexts where they must be put on and taken off repeatedly look like? What would lower-body wear designed to accommodate the temporary storage/carry of shoes look like? Walking through a temple during a major local festival, one will notice how crossing certain thresholds is often marked by the congesting bustle of people stooping over to either remove or put on their shoes. Temporarily storing them where one took them off, however, is not an option at this festival. Unlike most temple-visiting experiences in Myanmar, progress through this festival taking place on the temple grounds is linear, not circular. Thus, parking one’s shoes at a central point is not an option, as shoe-wearing and shoe-forbidden zones are interspersed with one another, and one must cross one to arrive at the others. Feet and (not surprisingly, shoes) are considered very dirty in Myanmar culture, so wearing shoes in shoe-free parts of the temple is out of the question, as is walking with bare feet in areas where others are wearing shoes.
With no guarantee that one’s progress will be take them back through past-visited areas, revelers must hold their shoes in their hands, limiting their ability to interact with and appraise the wares that line the temple walkways during this festival. This child seems to have come up with a clever solution, though whether it is culturally sanctioned remains to be seen, and not all footwear is as pants-compatible as these flip-flops (nor all pants as flip-flop compatible, for that matter). Alternatively, how can vendors better display their goods to accommodate browsers who have their hands full? Some vendors are quick to offer a chair or stool they keep set aside for interested potential customers, as they know once they convince them to take a load off that they’ll be much more compelled to stay seated for a while and momentarily step out of the human river they were riding up to that point. Revelers’ need for rest, plus the culturally strong feelings of not wanting to be indebted to anyone for any favors and “feeling bad” for making others exert any effort or go through any trouble (such as providing a chair) could mean the difference for a vendor between a profitable day of good sales and a painfully long time spent watching people shuffle by, clutching their shoes.