The Case of the Missing Table

Fictitious Hyderabad-based police department.
Fictitious Hyderabad-based police department.

Police Report:  Drafted by Hyperabad Police Detective Rajiv Abu.

Detective Abu, herein referred to as Detective, interviewed the owner, Robert J. Richey, herein referred to as “Owner,” at his place of residence, villa 41 (No. 41) Clear Heavens, Kokapet, Hyderabad, Telangana, India, 500075, nearest landmark being the Sheraton, Gachibowli, which isn’t actually very close, but since we require a landmark for everything, it will have to do. The interview commenced at 17:00 on 17 December 2015.

Detective’s note: Owner was pleasant, but failed to offer the Detective tea or biscuits; however, in mitigation, Owner did offer Detective a beer, to which Detective declined, because Detective is Muslim and only drinks whiskey. In addition, Owner pronounced his good name, Rob, with a short “O”, like cob, or knob, rather than the Indian pronunciation with a long “O”, like robe.

Owner stated that midday Friday, 11 December 2015, he contacted a table supplier, one Mr. Raj, about a missing marble table purchased from Mr. Raj while Owner and his spouse were on holiday in Agra. It was more than two weeks since the order was placed and the table last seen, yet there were no communications from Mr. Raj about the delivery.

Owner voiced surprise regarding the lack of communication. When Owner and his spouse initially entered the marble shop, Mr. Raj, purportedly with the blinding speed of a cobra strike, descended upon them with offers of tea and biscuits and promises of a speedy delivery to Owner’s home in Hyderabad. Subsequent communication with Mr. Raj lacked the predatory devotion demonstrated during the wooing process.

Detective’s note: Owner is obviously familiar with the concept of tea and biscuits.

WhatsApp logo.
WhatsApp logo.

Owner initially attempted to contact Mr. Raj by telephone; however, the call went unanswered. Owner stated that he would have left a voicemail; however, since Owner is the only person in India currently using voicemail, same was unable to leave a message. Owner followed up the call to Mr. Raj with an email, a text message, and a WhatsApp message. (Detective’s note: Everyone in India uses WhatsApp.) Owner received a return call several hours later, at which time Mr. Raj assured Owner that the package would be delivered “some time on Monday.”

Detective’s note: Owner understood that the phrase, “some time on Monday” did not mean the package would arrive on Monday. Instead, it meant the package would not arrive before Monday, and likely later than Monday, perhaps Tuesday, or even Wednesday.”

Owner waited patiently for the next few days, hoping for some confirmation of delivery, but none came. Two days passed, then three, until Owner finally received a message to his mobile phone on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 which included an air bill number and an address in Begumpet, Hyderabad, where the package, the missing marble table, was happily resting pending delivery. The delivery agent followed up with a telephone call to the Owner during which the delivery agent suggested they could deliver the package. The delivery agent also asked several times if Owner would like to pick up the package. Owner (foolishly) chose delivery.

Detectives note: Owner should have sent his driver to pick up the marble table. Had the owner been an Indian, he would have known that the delivery company, by offering the pick-up option, was asking the owner to retrieve the package, possibly because they were too lazy, or too busy, or because the delivery company had no idea where Kokapet, much less the Clear Heavens community was located. Despite graduating thousands of people in the information technology field every year, nobody in India uses GPS. In Indian, “You may pick up the package if you prefer,” means, “if you want the damn thing, it is in your best interest to come get it.”

The sun set, the power cycled on and off several times, but no marble table arrived at the owner’s home on Wednesday, 16 December 2015. Although not optimistic, because optimism in India is as misplaced as snowshoes in the Sahara, owner was deludedly hopeful the following day might bring with it a beautiful, marble table. Owner noted that he was scheduled to depart on holiday that evening, table or not.

Message received from delivery agent.
Message received from delivery agent.

Owner received a text message to his iPhone at 13:05 Indian local time (ILT) stating, “Sir pls check packet recd by snehlata.” Owner took this to mean that the package was delivered to Mister or Miss Snehlata at No. 41 Clear Heavens. Owner called the number from which he received the text message to confirm the information, during which the person who answered the telephone confirmed the table was delivered to Mr. Snehlata at No. 41 Clear Heavens.

Owner replied that he was home all day and did not receive the marble table. Owner checked with the Clear Heavens security people, who stated they did not receive a package for No. 41 today. Owner also posted a note to the Clear Heavens WhatsApp group asking if there was a Mr. Snehlata living at Clear Heavens, hoping it was simply delivered to the wrong address within the community. (Detective’s note: Everyone in India uses WhatsApp.)

Owner received several replies from members of the Clear Heavens community via WhatsApp. Owner was advised that the name Snehlata is a woman’s name in India. Therefore, it would have been delivered to a Miss or Mrs. Snehlata. Owner also learned that occasionally delivery drivers will mistake the nearby, upscale Gunnersdale community for Clear Heavens. It was possible the package was delivered there by mistake.

Owner noted, rather sarcastically, how shocking it was that a delivery agent in India got both the address and the gender of the receiver wrong. He acknowledged that while it was possible the package was delivered elsewhere, Gunnersdale only has 36 villas. Therefore it could not have been delivered to villa number 41; however, Owner entertained the possibility, albeit remote, that the driver might be semi-literate but dyslexic, potentially delivering the package to villa number 14 at Gunnersdale.

Owner was also asked via WhatsApp if the person who received the package could have been named Mrs. Sunita, the previous tenant at No. 41 Clear Heavens. Owner replied that the name was spelled in the text message from the delivery company as “Snehlata,” In addition, since Mrs. Sunita no longer resides in the home, at least not that Owner is aware, it was unlikely Mrs. Sunita received the marble table at No. 41 Clear Heavens, unless Mrs. Sunita, feeling nostaligic, dropped by during the day and intercepted the package.

Owner showed Detective a reply he received after responding to the aforementioned Sunita WhatsApp text, which read, “Then it is not her…” Owner laughed out loud, stating, “No shit, right?” (Detective’s note: Detective is unfamiliar with the phrase “no shit”, however, it may be an American colloquialism or term of endearment.)

Owner recontacted both the supplier and the delivery agent by text message, WhatsApp message and mobile telephone, and explained that the package was not delivered. The delivery agent requested further details, to which the Owner stated that although considered moderately creative by some, he was at a loss for how to explain with more detail that the package was not delivered to his house. “The phrase, ‘the marble table was not delivered to my house,’ is normally a sufficiently descriptive explanation, with undertones of missing merchandise and fruit forward incompetence,” he said, a distinct American sarcasm detected in the statement.

Text from delivery agent.
Text from delivery agent.

Owner was advised by the delivery agent via text, “Don’t worry sir will manage and inform u.” Owner again laughed, stating, “People at home are going to loving this story.” (Detective’s note: American’s are strange people.)

Detective’s note: During the interview, Detective observed owner shocking himself several times with the electric mosquito-zapper-badminton-racquet. When questioned about this practice, owner stated he was trying to ensure he was awake and not dreaming.

Detective’s note: Upon terminating the interview, Detective observed owner slather his ankles with Odomos, open a beer, and adjourn to the balcony.


Follow-up interview conducted on 1 January 16.

Detective returned to interview Owner on 1 January 2016, at his place of residence, No. 41 Clear Heavens, Kokapet, Hyderabad, Telangana, India, 500075, nearest landmark still being the Sheraton, Gachibowli, which still isn’t very close to Owner’s residence, but since we require a landmark for everything, it will still have to do. The interview commenced at 16:00.

Owner stated that upon returning from a wonderful twelve days in the Philippines, during which he wished he could stay longer, he sent a text message and WhatsApp message to the previously unidentified delivery agent’s mobile number. His text read, in part, “Hello. We have returned from holiday. The table is still not delivered. Were you able to recover it from the wrong place you delivered it? Thank you.”

Detective’s note: Owner was in particularly good spirits, possibly owed in no small part to the lingering sense of euphoria which remained undiminished less than twenty four hours after arriving home.

WhatsApp reply indicating the location of the package.
WhatsApp reply indicating the location of the package.

Owner received a reply via WhatsApp (Detective’s note: Everyone in India uses WhatsApp.) which included a telephone number and address in New Haffizpet where the “packet is lying.” The sender requested Owner call the provided telephone number to arrange for delivery.

Detective’s note: Owner was pleasant, but again failed to offer Detective tea and biscuits. Owner did offer Detective a beer which he imported from the Philippines, noting it well worth the hernia he was sporting from having carted it through customs. Detective declined Owner’s offer for a beer as Detective is Muslim and only drinks whiskey.

Owner laughed at the idea of another delivery and sent a WhatsApp text to the delivery agent stating he would pick up the package. Owner Google’d the address, but only found a Wikipedia page which referenced an Old and New Hafeezpet in the Hyderabad area. Fortunately, Owner’s driver, Rawoof, one of the best in all of India, was familiar with the area of Haffizpet, or Hafeezpet..

Map location of Hafeezpet (courtesy of Google Maps).
Map location of Hafeezpet (courtesy of Google Maps).

Owner, his spouse, and Rawoof drove to an area in Haffeezpet and parked on the side of the road. Owner called the provided number; however, he suspected it might be disconnected. This information was confirmed by Rawoof after listening to the pre-recorded message, which, Owner stated, could obviously not be a voicemail greeting since Owner was the only one in all of India currently using voicemail.

Rawoof asked Owner and his spouse to remain in the vehicle while he questioned a local Haffeezpetian, returning several minutes later and stating he had found the delivery facility and only required the air bill number to collect the package. The facility, a small store front, was recently opened, had no address, no signage, and a non working telephone. It was less than 25 meters from where Rawoof stopped the vehicle.

Packaged addressed to Owner's residence. (Name and address details removed by author.)
Packaged addressed to Owner’s residence. (Name and address details removed by author.)

Owner stated that Rawoof returned several minutes later with the package, the marble table with hand inlaid red elephants. He noted that had he not engaged the best driver in the city, one who often demonstrated amazing, almost miraculous feats of navigational prowess, he believes they would still be looking for the missing table.

Detective concluded the interview, but not before asking Owner for a spot of whiskey to temper the dusty day, to which Owner happily provided a small glass of IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor), along with two ice cubes.

Marble table top with hand inlaid red elephants.
Marble table top with hand inlaid red elephants.

Although based on a true story, some details were changed or added to enhance the reader’s experience. The name of Owner’s community was changed to Clear Heavens to protect the integrity of the actual community in which Owner resides. The name Gunnersdale was also changed, although it is based on an actual community located close by Clear Heavens. Owner is not aware of a Hyperabad Police Station in or around the Hyderabad area. Finally, owner has no idea if Muslim’s only drink whiskey, or if they drink at all. This detail was added to provide a sense of levity and demonstrate that despite the views of some non-Muslims, Indian Muslim’s by and large have quite a good sense of humor.


 

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