To combat fire, my friend, who lives on the 21st floor, has bought himself four fire-engines. Two of these he has permanently parked in his compound, one on his terrace, and one in his drawing-room.
When I called on him this morning, he was sitting in this breakfast-room, having breakfast. Two waiters were serving him, a third waiter was continuously preparing fresh tea. Two others were standing at the two ends of the table, holding on the ready those mini-fire-extinguishers Ė Ceasefire.
"What with all these bombs exploding and short-circuits, you have to yourself take precautions against fire," my friends said.
"Yes," I said. "But don't you find it a little inconvenient having a fire-engine in the drawing-room?"
"Well, yes, I had to remove three grand pianos, two chandeliers and musical fountain to accommodate the fire-engine, but you can't be too fussy when it comes to protecting your life and propertty," my friend said.
"So true," I said.
"The servants have been complaining about sharing accommodation with the firemen," my friend said. "But that should be only a temporary problem, I am building a separate wing for the firemen."
My friend took me on a tour of his fire-protection equipment. "These things that like red TV sets are actually fire-hydrants. They were designed like this to deceive the dogs, otherwise the place was becoming a mess."
"Sensible," I said. "Where does the water to the hydrants come from?"
"From my third swimming-pool. I have converted that into a water reservoir to be used in the event of a fire. Two swimming-pools should be enough for any person, why should be have three! Think of millions of people who have to make do with only one swimming-pool," my friend said.
My friend took me to a panel and showed me some red buttons. "When you press these buttons, the window glasses all break, one by one, thus allowing smoke to escape," he said.
"What is this red-phone?" I asked. "Is it a hotline?"
"Yes," said my friend, "to INS Kunjali to summon helicopters. Though I do not think they have been very effective in fighting fires."
We then came down and got into my friend's car, since he offered me a lift part of the way. One of the fire-engines in the compound followed us. "Does it aways follow you?" I asked.
"No," said my friend, "only when I am going to the Oberoi. Then I take it with me."