In our neighborhood in Phuket, everyone has a gate. Some of the gates are ornate, some just put together out of old scraps, some wooden, some metal, the list could go on and on. As I have been jogging around this beautiful area that is my temporary home, I have pondered the gates and what they represent to me. Do they represent keeping someone out, or keeping someone in? Do they add a sense of security in a sometimes scary world? Or are they just a way of showing that one has good stuff inside they want to keep out of the hands of others? Jogging is not much fun for me and so keeping my mind occupied with such philosophical thoughts keeps me going.
In my hometown, there were two types of gates that one would see when it came to houses.
There were “Gated Communities” which usually meant that you lived in a wealthier neighborhood and therefore had more things that you wanted to keep safe from the scary people obviously lining up to steal from you. The individual houses probably wouldn’t have gates (besides into the back yards usually), but the whole housing development would be hidden behind high walls and a remote-control gate (sometimes even a security guard to verify that you belong there). To me these neighborhoods always felt more like prisons than homes, and the gates seemed unnecessary. A showing of fear and paranoia, a person wanting to keep their stuff in and the riffraff out.
Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, there were the gates you’d see over windows, and doors, and blocking off the front yards because the houses are located in a “bad neighborhood”. I am not quite sure what constitutes a “bad” neighborhood in my hometown, except that it probably has problems with gangs and usually the people are living in poverty. There is a quote from Aristotle that says “The mother of revolution and crime is poverty” and though there has not been a revolution in my small hometown (yet), there is real crime in the more impoverished neighborhoods. The gates in these neighborhoods are not only there to protect the stuff that is in the houses, but the people as well. There is very real danger in these neighborhoods and so the gates are almost mandatory.
It’s interesting (and sad) to me to see the similarities and differences between the two types.
Here in Phuket, most houses have gates and I am pretty sure it is for all the same reasons that they have them in the States. But, there are some really interesting ones, and I wanted to show you some of them.