Last Monday brought much excitement to Abhiram Apartments in an old part of Bangalore. The eponymous Abhiram, while returning from work at 8.30 PM, noticed a poster stuck next to the elevator. It had just a cryptic sentence OLD PEOPLE SHOULD TAKE REGULAR BATHS along with a mobile number.
Totally perplexed, Abhiram took it to his father Raman.
The apartment complex of 6 flats had been built on a plot which had originally belonged to Raman’s grandfather. After demolishing the single bungalow built on it, the apartments had been developed by a builder and Abhiram with his parents and grandmother lived in the flat on the second floor. Being the original owners of the site, their sense of ownership had been a little more than the owners of the other 5 flats. In fact, any trespassing almost amounted to personal violation as far as Abhiram’s family was concerned.
A CCTV had recently been installed in the basement. The recordings could be viewed in Raman’s apartment as he was the current secretary of the Residents’ association. Abhiram, into tomfoolery despite being well into adulthood, loved to try various dramatic entries in front of the camera in the basement so that he could watch them later at home on the recorded CCTV footage. So, that day also he switched on the recording anticipating his Mission Impossible feature (or was it Pink Panther?). But, Surprise! There entered a fairly well-dressed man on the screen with a briefcase, who pulled a poster out and pasted it on the wall next to the elevator – all caught vividly on the camera.
That set off the hitherto dormant investigative genes in both father and son. They called the mobile number given in the poster. They made a big noise and kicked up a ruckus. “Who are you, I say?”, “How could you trespass?”.” We have all your actions recorded in our CCTV. We are going to report you to the police and get them to take action on you” and so on. They even sent the screenshot on whatsapp to his phone where he had been caught in the act.
The poster man was all nerves. He begged them to excuse him and not to report him to the police.
The puzzle of the mysterious one-line sentence was solved when in the course of the conversation father and son deduced that the trespasser was running a “pay and bathe” unit and this was his way of advertising his business!
Actually, the apartment complex always had a watchman. But when he demanded an amount disproportionate to the services rendered, the association decided to do away with him. When the local patrol cop discovered that the complex was “Unsafe”, he advised them to recruit another watchman or install a CCTV.
And so, with a one-time payment of Rs 14,000 to a young start-up owner, a camera and recorder had been purchased and installed. Within a week, the gizmo had proved its worth if not for anything, at least for the invaluable entertainment and excitement it had provided.
Btw, what made the poster man suspect the hygiene of the apartment residents? Did he expect any one of them would make use of his “pay and bathe” facility?
cartoon- courtesy shutterstock.com