I remember trying to play with the front door of my grandfather’s house in my younger days during my visit to Closepet (now called Ramanagara). It was well nigh impossible to move it even a single inch as the door had been made of solid wood and reinforced with 3 thick wooden strips, nailed horizontally to the door, one on top, one in the middle and the third one at the bottom. The latch consisted of a thick iron chain with a thick iron loop nailed to the door frame. The door would never be shut during the day. In the night, it would be closed with bolts inside and a strong, horizontal iron strip across it for added security.
Later, in my mother’s house the front door was of a much more vulnerable variety made of thin planed wood and expanded metal, the latter affording a clear view of the visitor. The door would be kept closed throughout the day. Only in the evenings, when the lights were switched on, the front door would be kept open for half an hour to allow Goddess Lakshmi to enter the house, to bless the family with riches and prosperity. This would be done after ensuring the rear door closed, lest the Goddess known for her fickle- mindedness escape through the rear door after entering from the front!
But now, many main doors are made of teakwood with a peephole, guard chain and a grill door too for good measure.
In our house, our front door is a flush plywood one painted in white. With the present status of security in Bangalore and the onslaught of door-to-door salesmen, the door is always kept shut, more so after our children flew the nest and left the two of us behind.
Another reason for keeping the front door always shut is to keep away the infamous winged marauders of Bangalore, namely, the mosquitoes. While our elders were keen to keep the front door open in the evenings for the goddess, we make sure that the door is tightly shut, particularly in the evening when the mosquitoes enter houses with open doors gleefully overtaking the goddess.
But we did not foresee the effect this constantly-closed-front-door would have on bigger (sized) animals.
When the mating season came, the castrated and frustrated army of dogs which would be constantly chasing female dogs up and down the road through sheer force of habit, would take a detour through our compound. They would use it as a hiding place whenever a fight broke among them (to what end? Heaven knows!) The fact that we have only a short wall 1 metre high made it easy for them to hop in and hop out at will. They slowly started using our verandah as a night shelter. When the rains came, they did not hesitate to use it as a daytime shelter too. Every time we opened our front door, we would see nothing less than 6 stray dogs relaxing in there.
The closed door encouraged stray cows to sit on the flagstones in front of our house and on our driveway. It is not even easy to get rid of the squatting ones. The camel led by its master started taking full liberty to munch the green leaves off the tree in front of our house.
Appalled at the way our frontage was being usurped by live stock, we decided that it was better to confront the smaller mosquitoes than a whole Noah’s ark and hence started keeping our front door open.
So, it is an open door policy now in our house, with free entry for anyone and everyone.