Daily life

Breaking into your own house 101

8:26 PM

We've all had been locked outside our own house or apartment at least once right (for some it's more than once...ahem).

What you logically do if you don't live in India, is find a yellow pages book, go to "locksmith 24/7 emergency" or something like that and have a guy open your door within a couple or hours. Or if all fails break through a window and open your door from the inside, then call a carpenter to fix your damage.

However, as I once said, emergencies don't work in India so forget the 24/7 locksmith thing. The theory proved to be correct once more today. And here is how my story goes :

it's a normal day, I go out to buy some stuff, make sure all the rooms doors are closed so that Jasmine do not destroy anything, give her a rawhide chew stick, lock the door and leave. Hop in an Auto and once seated and on my way start having a nagging feeling about my door, did I lock it properly? Did I remember to do it? Did I check if I had my keys? OOPS there it is, I forgot my keys, and the door is of course properly locked in the most proper of Indian ways with a padlock on an external latch in addition to the regular lock! And of course I have no keys, they are all inside, and of course it has to happen when DH is in Switzerland and left his own keys with me!

It happened in the past in this very same apartment that I locked myself on the terrace, but then it's easy to break in : you just have to break the window that is on the side of the door and put your hand through to open the door from the inside, and then it cost you 800 rupees to have the glass panel replaced, no biggie.

But today this would not work, nope not as long as the padlock is on it's external latch, and my padlock is an extra strong one made of hardened steel.

Realizing all this of course took me a few seconds, and I decided that since I was locked outside anyway I might as well proceed what I was planning to do anyway, and start worrying about the problem later, because let's face it what is done is done.

I also figured out that I should use the strong point of my neighbourhood : It's friendly neighbours, and since India made me street smarter than I was, my first logical target was ask my neighbour who is having an extra floor built to her house as maybe she would have a worker owning a saw or blade of some kind to break my padlock so I could then break my window to open my door.
I hear you here, you are probably thinking "Why don't she break the window, go in, take the key, and open the door?" Again would work in Switzerland, but Indian windows have iron bars on them to prevent thief to break in too easily So this leave this option out.

But back to my neighbour shall we? She isn't very fluent in English, and I'm not at all fluent in Tamil or Kannada which are the two languages she speaks, but guessing that I'm in trouble and need help, she goes with me to the neighbour's right across from my house to ask if someone knows a person who could cut my lock as unfortunately all there is at the moment in her house are people laying brick walls, no saw, drills or blade. The other neighbour can't help either because their husbands are not there and women in India aren't encouraged to go near hardware stores or find a repair man, this is the husband's job. But they know that my immediate next door neighbour knows a lot of handymen and could help me so they direct me there. When I knock at the door, though it's the wife who answer, her hubby is out at the moment, but she invites me to stay in 9it's 3 pm then), make some tea for me, call her hubby to tell him what is happening, and ask me to wait there until something can be done, pass the time and by 4.30 she send her maid to find a locksmith in another neighbourhood since her hubby is stuck in traffic, we keep chit chatting realizing we left side by side for years and knew surprisingly very little about each other. The maid comes back by 5 telling us that the locksmith refuse to leave his shop for such a small job, leaving me locked outside. We decide to wait longer for her husband to come back and start plotting some alternate plans, we eventually come up with the idea of unscrewing the external latch so that breaking through my window would work, she goes find a screwdriver in her toolbox, and we all head to my place after a cup of chai to give us a moral boost.
But even the most brilliant of plans have it's failure, turns out that my landlord had the latch screwed not only from outside but from inside as well and the latch won't budge. Time for plan D : Get a hammer and do some serious harm, the maid's daughter who tagged along with my neighbour and her own daughter are now plotting on hammering the padlock down hoping something would happen, and the maid's daughter volunteered for the task (who said girls can't do a thing). 15 minutes later the latch is still in place, the door is bruised, the padlocks has a few dents, but we are headed toward a break, the bottom hook where the padlock hangs is coming loose, and between a few laughs we huff and puff pulling on it, trying almost every way possible to dislodge the damn thing. Just before the maid's daughter decide to give a few more very vicious hit to the hook. And suddenly the lock falls, the hook is broken allowing me to pull the latch...YAY!
Everybody retreat behind the safety of the gate while I proceed to break my window and let my dog out, and we then all cheer each other and laugh once more at the whole situation which let's admit it is quite ridiculous and very stupid.

Why a locksmith who is by profession supposed to unlock doors refused to come is beyond me, but years in India made me stop wondering too much about those thing, because I spent a week with a broken pipe in my kitchen, so who would expect a locksmith rescuing you faster than a plumber anyway?
What this situation brought me though was a bit of fun, some bonding with my neighbours and the realisation hat once more women rocks and can do anything!

If I were living in one of those modern apartment complex, I would probably have been let inside my own house faster than that, but I would never have known more about my neighbours and would never had one more story about how friendly and helpful people in India can be, so if the only price I have to pay is the one to fix a broken window and latch...this was a real bargain don't you think?


  1. limoncello : )8:55 PM

    hi cyn! thought, i'd drop in and re-visit your blog. it's been awhile.

    what an adventure you had there. i also strongly believe that for every adversity there is always a positive light to it. with this, it's great that you got to know your neighbors - and they got to know you, as well.

    locking myself out when DH is out on his trips is one fear of mine, as well. for one thing, the only key the hausmeister has is for the main door of the apt but not the individual's apt door. so if i'm locked out - i'm SOL, esp., if it's in the evening. YIKES! locksmiths are expensive. so what i do - i double lock our apartment door outside using my keys just for the reason that i know i have them with me. oy...

    if you're going to Schweiz, let me know. maybe, DH and i can meet you guys one weekend or something.

    take care and hugs

  2. It's funny the little ways we can connect with people. Even though you got locked out and it was a hassle, life got more interesting getting a chance to bond with your neighbors. That's pretty great. I like those moments in life. I think communities and people are too secluded (especially in the US) and more and more people think twice before helping someone.

  3. I hear about neighbourhood in US getting increasively closed with people barely talking to one another. The fad is starting to catch up in Switzerland as well.


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