Life of crime

For several years my wife has led a life of leisure, with most of her domestic work being handled by hired help. Every now and then, to make herself relevant she gets in to her house-spring-cleaning mode. I dread this because generally my belongings are her target to jettison.

Recently she unearthed from the loft a large plastic bag containing assorted items and confronted me with that. Initially I was inclined to follow Emraan Hashmi in ‘Ghanchakkar’ and claim temporary amnesia about the contents. Instead, I decided to pursue the manly route a la John Abraham in ‘Shootout at Wadala’ and took the flashback path to narrate my life of crime.

Like any criminal I started off in a small way. A few months in to my working life, I got a chance to travel on official work to Delhi. The hotel where I stayed was beyond anything that I had experienced. On the last day I gathered courage and put the hotel stationery in the room in my briefcase. My heart skipped several beats till I was ensconced in the safe confines of the taxi taking me to the airport.

After that I was like a shark who had tasted blood. Stationary was passé. I graduated to soap, shampoo and body lotion. As I went up the ladder and began staying at better class of hotels, the first thing I did after entering my hotel room was to check out the items ripe for the picking. Back home my collection increased to toothbrushes, combs, sewing kits, laundry bags, shoe shiners, shoehorns and a variety of ball pens. The housekeeping staff at the Trump Hotel, New York must still be mystified at the sudden disappearance of a bathrobe from one of the rooms.

I went out of control when I started my overseas travel. Anything ‘foreign or imported’ had a different aura. The airline cutlery was particularly tempting. There are still some of them being used in our home even today. Unfortunately, nowadays airlines are taking the safer route of plastic items that are not worth pilfering.

One mystery that I have not been able to solve occurred nearly forty years back. Our company CEO was on a visit to Bangalore and invited a few of the staff to a five star hotel in High Grounds. I was a staunch teetotaler those days. However, my boss convinced me that Bloody Mary was just a spicy tomato juice. I loved the taste and soon finished six of those.

We then went upstairs to the Chinese restaurant for dinner. Next morning on waking up in my bachelor pad I had no recollection about what had transpired the previous night. I also had no clue how I had become a proud possessor of a red and white checked napkin that was wrapped around a set of shiny fork, knife and spoon with the hotel name engraved on them. To compound this further, there was also an unwrapped roll of toilet paper.

Today, I am a reformed criminal. But there are times when temptation mocks me. Like when I visited Barcelona…

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