Washing of feet during wudu - if there is one custom of Islam that I wish I could explain better at times it would be this. Now I know religion is perfect as it is revealed so don't go all 'infidel' on me, but doing wudu in Canadian washrooms can sometimes lead to interesting situations.
For the uninitiated, wudu is ablution that all Muslims have to do before saying the ritual prayers. It's terribly easy, and involves washing hands till the elbows, sprinkling water on the face and feet (to the ankles). In most Muslim countries, public washrooms have facilities to sit down and wash your feet. In fact the public washrooms at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, behind the Journey Behind the Falls ticket booths, have such facilities. But most washrooms are normal, and therefore you have to ... improvise.
Now your imaan (faith) may be strong, but when you enter the washroom at the office for wudu purposes you will always be hoping that there is no one there. OK, the prayer seems to be (temporarily) answered. Wash hands. Check. Sprinkle water on face. Done. Taking care, like a good Muslim, not to splash water and keep things tidy and clean. Now for the feet.
Just at the moment when one sock is off and you are in the crouching flamingo position, balanced precariously on one leg as the other leg is raised as you touch your wet hands on the feet, at that position, someone will enter the washroom.
Or you know, you enter the washroom and the only guy in it is inside a stall, reading the Daily News while doing his Daily 'Downloading'. You proceed to your wudu, wondering all the time what on earth he had for lunch instead of saying your zikrs, and the guy will exit JUST at the moment when you are about to do your feet. It does not matter he stinks and has toilet roll stuck to his boots, he will ask you what you are upto.
This is a good time to tell him a little about Islam and that you are only washing your feet as you want to pray, but that is not the 'cool' answer, is it? I remember once I was in Heathrow airport, London, UK, on the way back to Toronto. I entered the washroom to do wudu. Naturally it wasn't empty, but no one paid any attention to me. All except one Italian gentleman who stood right next to me and asked, "What are you doing?"
It was not a hostile "Go back to your homeland" tone, but a rather polite and genuinely curious tone. And ofcourse I lied.
"Well, you see on long flights, your feet tend to get swollen. It's called thrombosis of the vertebrae. You can get rid of it by sprinkling your feet with cold water."
"Ah," his eyes lit up. "I have that problem too!"
And the guy just rolled up his trousers, took off his shoes and socks and proceeded to do just what I was doing! Just to spite him, I repeated my whole wudu. The poor guy followed my every act. In my defense it was the evil of (extreme) youth that made me do it.
Sometimes the truth may just be simpler, and most people stop bugging you if you say the magic word of religion. And to be fair, all religions have customs that make other people go, "WHaaaat?" I have never gotten around to understanding the 'breaking of a coconut in India on getting a new car' thing.