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    Volume 11 |Issue 42| October 26, 2012 |


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Do Not Touch the Items on Display

Soraya Auer

In the dead of night, an intruder crosses your threshold and tiptoes past your four snoring guards. You are in your bedroom completely unaware, dreaming of wearing a more extravagant real gold embroidered sari than your sister-in-law. Pleased that he has managed to get into your quarters unnoticed, the burglar gives himself a little pat on the back when he notices the oversized safe at the end of your room.

The state-of-the-art titanium Penetrate-Me-If-You-Can 3.0 security safe is eye-wateringly shiny and tempting. The burglar makes a bee line for the metal beast. He looks at it thoughtfully and with the nifty bite-size flashlight he nabbed from your neighbours last week, he illuminates the touch pad keys to find distinguishable finger prints on the four digits you chose for this safe (you thought six digits seemed like an unnecessary precaution at the time of installation). The third number combination proves lucky and a click of the heavy door grants the burglar access to your entire – wait a minute, that can't be right – list of items kept in the vault of your bank?

Now isn't that a turn of events for the poor burglar who thought he struck gold based purely on the size of the metal monstrosity in your room? You have a personal security safe but you're not comfortable to use it except for storing paperwork documenting your actual valuables. He wonders how this could be and then it hits him. You are one of those people who own expensive things just for the sake of it. Half your electronic stuff will never be plugged in, let alone unwrapped properly, and the other half will only make sense to your robotic – sorry – I mean digitally savvy children. Call them status symbols or tumble dryers – it's all the same to him.

Disheartened but resolved, the burglar thinks he can still make this midnight journey worthwhile if he just picks up some things you won't notice gone in the morning. Sure you have some valuable earrings lying around and your husband's laptop lies next to the bed. But that all seems amateurish after he just cracked open a safe. Of course, the burglar thinks, I'll take the stuff these people don't use.

Dearest home owner or home occupier, there are far too many things you don't need, let alone use, in your home and this burglar knows it. He wanders into your bathroom hoping to find some spare electronic shaving devices but is met by the sight of a five metre Jacuzzi-cum-sauna-cum-swimming suite with waterproof intercom. He can tell it's never been used from the plastic covered handles that have accumulated dust. You've even been kind enough to put a note (albeit in English) saying 'Do not use – insufficient water supply to fill up without stealing Gulshan Lake water, which we don't want to do obviously because of the smell'. A little disturbed, the burglar steps back, only to rattle the balti (bucket) and mug you actually use to wash yourself.

Before feasting on the rest of your home, the burglar decides to check out what food you've got awaiting him in the kitchen – correction, your two kitchens. One western one with a breakfast island, bar stools, and unplugged microwave, dishwasher and oven; the second is where the real cooking takes place, much smaller in size but more familiar to the burglar, with a floor sink and gas stove. He opens your refrigerator to find a stash of pink fish (imported smoked salmon), smelly white stuff (camembert cheese) and green bits floating in oil (pesto sauce).

His hunger is killed by the combined smells and he decides the sooner he gets on with the job at hand, the sooner he can eat real food (daal and bhat). He pops his head into your veranda, joking to himself that the next thing he'll see is a vending machine full of chocolates but frowns at the sight of a weird looking, low-lying trolley type contraption. If you were awake you'd inform the burglar with pride that this is a lawnmower for your farmhouse in Gazipur.

Having seen enough western and too large to carry electronic goods, the burglar moves into the living area where he thinks there must be something of more use to him. He spots a glass case covered in a sheet and thinks of the crystals that must be underneath. The burglar lifts the sheet and shudders at the sight of a stuffed Dalmatian, a knowing smile plastered across its canine face.

Mortified at your decorative tastes the burglar is almost reluctant to check out your spare-cum-utility room. He enters gingerly, relieved to see the usual clutter of hoarding rich people. Ten suitcases line the wall in case you ever take that tour of Europe you keep insisting to your old school friends will happen. The burglar relaxes further at the sight of an upright vacuum cleaner next to the suit and shirt steam press. As he bends down to see how portable the vacuum cleaner is, he realises, despite the 2015 glossy look about it, you've never taken the plastic safety case off the plug point. He then looks at the steam press and notices for the first time dry cleaned suits hanging behind the room door with 'INTERNATIONAL LAUNDRY SERVICE, GULSHAN PALACE, DHAKA' emblazoned on the hangers. He smiles to himself realising that when he advertises these things on eBay as 'never been used', he'll be telling the truth for once.


All places, characters, institutions and events described in this article are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person or institution living or dead is purely coincidental.

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