Tag Archives: studying

Don’t touch anything with your feet

Context & Background:

The informant is a friend met in college and is Indian. I grew up in a rural town in Wisconsin, USA, where there weren’t many other Indians. Throughout middle and high school, I didn’t have any friends with who I could relate with culturally, so when I came to college, I got to meet people who have the same heritage as me. Here is a conversation with my Indian friend. KR – informant, SD – collector.

Performance: (via FaceTime)

KR: Yea, so I know that whenever your feet touch anything, especially books or a laptop but basically anything, you have to touch it with your hand and put your hand to your head and heart. It’s kind of like apologizing or asking for blessings or something like that.

SD: I do that too! I’ve done this my whole life, so when I do it in public, people sometimes ask what I’m doing and then I tell them this exact same thing.

KR: Yes, I know a lot of my friends do it too. 

SD: So do you know why we have this belief?

KR: I think it has to do with our feet being bad. Like they are the body part taking all the dirt and scraps and so if we touch something with a dirty body part, we have to apologize. 

SD: Yes, I think that might be it. 


In this piece, you can again see the underlying emphasis on knowledge and academics in the Indian culture. KR mentions “especially books or laptops”, which are sources that give you knowledge and wisdom. Another version of the importance of this tradition that I have heard is that if you put your foot on something, you think you are better than them. You don’t want to be arrogant and you don’t want to consider yourself better than anyone, even an inanimate object. So you ask for forgiveness. 

College Studying Murder Story


J, a 22-year-old, Caucasian male who grew up in San Francisco, California until he turned 16. He now lives in Boise, Idaho. He spent his summers at summer camp with his friends.

Background info:

During summer camps, counselors and children would sit around a firepit at night and tell stories. While some of these were positive, most of them would be told with the aim of scaring people. This is one of the stories told to J during one of these sessions.


This was told amongst a group of friends sitting in a circle around a firepit late at night, slightly intoxicated, telling each other their favorite scary stories they heard as children.

Main piece:

“This story was told to me by a counselor who was actually in his freshman year of college. It goes something like this… There are two college roommates, Briona and Ellee, who are in the same math class and have a bit midterm in the morning… Briona decides to stay in and study, while Ellee goes out to party with a guy in the same class. *pause for childish laughing*… After a while, Ellee returns to find the lights out and Briona in bed asleep. To be courteous, Ellee does her nighttime routine in the dark before going to bed… *beep beep beep, beep beep beep, beep beep beep*… Sleepily, Ellee climbs out of bed and walks over to wake Briona… She rubs the sleep out of her eyes and notices the blood-soaked bed and stiff body of Ellee. On the wall above her, the words ‘Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?’ are scribbled in blood…”


As I read back through this transcript, I wish it could better capture the feeling of this piece. The ambiance of the environment in which it was told played into it with the cold, quiet, dark night with the flames casting shadows around us, making us feel as if we were not alone. I think the story was interesting coming from J, as he never went to traditional college. However, it was still an effective ‘scary’ story for us since we all knew what it was like to share a room with a person you haven’t known for very long. Things are often represented in sets of three, and this one used the alarm beeping in threes to give the listeners something familiar before the big reveal. The writing in blood is a common element in scary stories, but it implies so much more in this story that it played a larger part than it normally does. J was unsure of which names were meant to be used in the story but didn’t think they were terribly important.