Doors, and feminism?
Trying to unlock one thing at a time.
Hello! This is my 8th Edition of writing these write-ups that I term as open letters. In case you have just landed, you can check out any of my previous write-ups-
Lights and Rejection, Bags and Batman, Washrooms and Cupboards, Driving and Friendship, or Humor and Instant Messaging!
“Harsh, come and drop me downstairs to the place where people sit, please!” grandma said. My grandma is in her late 70s and has seen a lot of things in her life. Still, she cannot face the monstrous hands of a silver monster that helps people, in general, to get up or down in a building. She is still afraid of the lift in our flat. I guess living in a bungalow and a small town for all her life does not help a lot in that aspect. The lift is extremely sensitive and precise that if you push it with your hand or put something in between, it would retrace immediately. But to her mind, the lift door is still a monster that cannot retrace and would probably eat up someone’s hands or limbs in that process. That was the case maybe a few years or a decade ago. Today, that is like a rare accident for which the lift company can be sued.
On the other hand, my mother goes and comes in lifts like it is an ordinary thing. No fear, no hassle. However, my mom does ensure that she locks the doors of the house properly even when the whole family is inside and does not let it be open. Both the doors and are doubly secured. Looking at these instances, I wonder what these doors are.
My mom worked in a school as a teacher and has traveled to the city and several other cities. My grandma has in fact traveled the world but with my Grandpa. She would have Grandpa with her most of the time or any of her sons or daughters-in-law to accompany her in life. My mother went alone to work and had to open quite a few doors. She opened the door to find a job, make her own living, manage finances, tackle people, etc., etc. She even opened the door to her own house. Still, she closes the door with full security.
Locking of the doors reminds me of this aptly done intro of a famous daily soap that showcased the passing on of the keys from the mother-in-law to the daughter-in-law. I cannot remember which show was that, but I guess it was Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. This action is so symbolic. Even when the door is made and the construction of the door is generally supervised and overseen by the men in a conventional family, the onus of maintaining the house and ensuring that it stays clean and shining is of the women. That is the job of women conventionally and a job that is unpaid or hardly ever rewarded or even acknowledged. Sometimes, this whole idea of keeping the world inside the door so clean and shining is so ingrained that they cannot live at peace if that is not done. They would clean it themselves even if they are ill or on the deathbed. Most of the time, the other members would not even spot the dirtiness unless it is strikingly evident.
Now that more doors are open, there are still many who choose either side. That is a good idea and it is all about choice. However, things get really tricky when they choose to go out to explore the world but still, their mind and soul are to be present in the world behind the door because of either conditioning or stereotypes. But it is a door that is accessible to all so one should also be able to say no to enter that.
Sometimes, I feel so frustrated about going and just opening the door for my grandma while it is such an easy job to do. Even demonstrations and DIY did not work for her. Maybe the very idea of men opening doors for women was never looked at as something tiring for men and only recently both men and women had enough confidence to look after themselves and open the doors for themselves. Men held doors for women for a long time in history. However, it was the duty to do so. Some men felt terrible doing so. Some slammed their own hand in the process and the worst thing was not hurting one’s hand but the very idea of not being able to express the pain because there was no recognition of the possibility that the hand of men can also be slammed in the process.
However, some intelligent person sitting in some corner of the world was smart enough to recognize this error and invented the automatic doors that we see in malls and stores. It eliminates the need for someone to physically open or close it. Think about it and there are so many perspectives to it.
You do not practically need a door person. It actually reduced employment. But think about it and it opened ways for many people who would not be able to open the doors in the first instance. People who are differently-abled or like Professor Xavier now do not have to worry about the hassle of opening a door. In fact, the judgment that the doorkeeper would have imposed on the person is also eliminated. Now, you can be anyone and anything and not be judged because there is no doorkeeper and the entry is open for anyone. No stereotypes that since you are of certain skin color, you are here to rob the mall or kidnap someone. Free entry and free exit.
However, it is not this easy even after so much progress and advancement. Some people have had so many doors shut on them that they are ultra-cautious with every door. Of course, they know that #notalldoors would smash on their nose or their fingers would be caught in it. However, there are experiences that make them cautious. Some people have come across so many pathetic doors that they can not help but be cautious because they have never seen a good door. Some of them have only had a single door causing harm to them. But how can feelings be ever measured? The person with 1000s of bad doors might be okay with it because they might not have felt the tremendous amount of pain that the person with a single door smash would have felt. There is no way to measure feelings or pain. Sometimes, the door does not even know that it is closing on a human and it, unfortunately, ends up hurting them. There is no way to know what door can fall when and hurt someone. All one can be is cautious of the door and more than that, fix the mechanism of the door to ensure that no one gets hurt.
I used to travel in trains a lot when I was in Mumbai. My maternal side is in Mumbai and we traveled there every year until the lockdown. I even did my bachelor’s there. Local trains are an everyday affair if you stay in Mumbai. In Trains, it is an everyday event to see transgender people coming and begging. However, when I traveled in Third AC or first class, I never found them. The doors were closed. No wonder they are begging because they have not experienced what is it like when someone opens the door and they are able to enter in without any hesitation and full dignity and pride.
I love when people go beyond the conventions and come up with unique and exciting doors. I have seen doors of various sizes and shapes, colors, and mechanisms. Each has its own feel. I have gone to this Palatial hotel that has a massive door. I remember how the doors were a team effort and could not be opened without a massive team. It had to be attached to a chain, then there would be levers and mechanisms to open it. It is not a very convenient way to do so but it keeps you absolutely safe. Everyone in the kingdom loved these giant doors because they ensured that the king or queen was always there to take care of them and provided a safety net. Now that monarchy has been extinct in India, everyone has their own doors and they are for themselves. Still, many women choose to stay inside because they feel safe and comfortable. Some venture out. Unfortunately, when men choose to stay inside, they are often viewed in a certain way. They are not supposed to be on closed doors. This is when we should remember that doors are opened from both sides and it is not only one side that should be credited. The modern door knob moves from both sides and it opens. Quite interesting progress from the stopper-like locks we used to have!
One of my childhood memories is to watch Tom and Jerry and remember the chase. I loved how the cat and mouse would run everywhere and escape each of the traps. Jerry had doors of his size for his house while Tom had a flap-like door in the main door from which he could move in and out easily. That is considerate. When they are given those doors, they are free to roam around and they do not need to depend on someone for opening or closing them. I have also seen interesting videos where doors are opened by the pets. Some opened by the dogs, some by cats, and in rare cases, there are other animals like parrots to do so.
What is the most amazing take on doors is how a village has no doors in its area. A certain village in Maharashtra named Shani Shignapur had not a single door until 2010. It is a tradition that everyone followed and believed in. There had been no safety incidents or thefts in those areas until very recently. When there are no doors, there is no feeling of vulnerability as everything is the same. Doors also mean privacy but privacy is not just doors. It is an idea that if people follow, there would be no requirement of doors.
So is the idea to eliminate doors altogether? Na. Not a great idea. It is to change the mechanism of the door. It is to keep on improving the mechanism until every person entering and exiting through the door feels safe that they are free to do what they wish inside the door and they would not be hurt. Oh, so do I mean the automatic door? Probably, but that too also has its flaws. The sensor can go bam! and someone might be stuck. It is a glass door so privacy is not present. Is it a better door than before? Definitely, because it has allowed so many people to conveniently enter the premises without any hesitation, doubt, or insecurity and with dignity and pride. Can there be a better door? Absolutely. As they perfectly say,
“ To error is to human, but to improve is to humanity. “
Now that I spoke so much about doors, am I missing something? No. That is because when I claim to be a door expert and enter a door shop, the shopkeeper would do multiple things such as only show me the best doors, present me with the latest and least dangerous door mechanism, and deprive me of all the doors that need some improvement. If I go as a customer, probably as someone who does not appear well to do and would not buy the door, I would know how the shopkeeper would treat me. I would also know about the thinking of the shopkeeper without putting him in the spotlight.
You would also think that since I know quite a few things about doors, why should I not claim to be a door expert? I would also know a better door mechanism to suit the houses, right? Well, firstly, you never become a door expert because you know something that ordinary people do not. Secondly, if people come to know that you are a door expert, they would try to test your knowledge and would be so eager to disregard your views because they also think that there is nothing new a door expert can tell them about doors. Lastly, if I visit a house as a nonchalant normal person with less knowledge about doors and not claiming that I am a door expert, I would not only see the faults in their doors but I can also tweak the door myself or suggest some tweaks without coming out as a direct enemy of their thoughts. Eventually, the door would be replaced with a better mechanism, but until then, you play with what you have and make sure that no one gets hurt.
Also, you do not become a spy by claiming to be a spy, do you? ;)
Leaving you with a wonderful song that I love truly!
Did you think I would miss putting up a comic? No no no no! :P
Ayee! Thank you so much for reading and I would be so happy to know what you think about this letter. Do feel free to give me any constructive feedback. I would really appreciate it! I write these things fortnightly so see you on or before 1st October! :D
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