It is amusing how horrified we can be about the behaviors of others, while turning a blind eye to our own horrifying habits.
Spitting is an entrenched habit of many in Mainland China. Entering the elevator in my Chinese high-rise apartment, I was often greeted by a slick of opaque spit in the corner. Fortunately, in my present home of Hong Kong, a SARS-related aversion to germ-spreading has wiped out most public spitting.
A spitter has explained the logic behind the habit to me: essentially, since the air is so polluted and your phlegm captures this pollution, why would you dream of swallowing it? Far more healthy to eject this filth. I can understand the logic. (The logic, however, would still work if a tissue were employed between a person’s mouth and the ground.)
While I have yet to established my own ‘cleansing-through-spitting’ practice, my time in Asia has completely cured me of the habit of wearing shoes indoors. For years my mother tried to convince us to remove our shoes inside. We mainly ignored her: what a pain to unlace our sneakers just to cut down on vacuuming.
Now I cannot bear to enter a house with my shoes on. I find it mildly revolting when others march in with their filthy outdoor shoes on.
After all, who would want to track all that hacked up pollution (dog shit/car oil/mud) back into their homes?