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World Manners -- Head To Toe
with Mary-Lou Weisman


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Our Travel Etiquette Guru, Mary-Lou Weisman, takes us on a cross-cultural tour of the body, starting with the head and moving down to the feet. Certain cultures see the top as the "good" part and the bottom as the "bad" part.


It is considered an insult to point the soles of the feet toward another person in the Middle East and Far East: The feet, especially in countries where people wear sandals and occasionally step in mud and manure in the streets, get dirty and rather stinky.

Mary Lou also gives pointers on how to avoid pointing your feet at others, especially since in those countries one sits on the floor much of the time. She suggests you either sit cross-legged or tuck your feet under you. If you're in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor.


The same countries that don't want you to point the soles of your feet at them, also don't want you to touch their heads. A person's spirit is thought to reside in the head. In Thailand they're especially sensitive about this - so don't even pass an object over a person's head in Thailand. Actually, people in many countries don't want you to touch their heads, but in Los Angeles, they don't think you're putting their souls in jeopardy -- they just worry that you're messing up their expensive hairdos.

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