The Milk mix-up


This happened many, many years ago. 

We’d just moved into a brand new apartment. Of the total eight apartments, only four were occupied so far.

On the first evening there,  my husband came back after a hard day’s work. He’d taken the stairs to our second floor apartment. He told us he’d seen the milk packet from morning still lying outside the door of an apartment in the first floor.

“Who satys there?” he asked my father-in-law.

“Some bachelors, I think,” he replied.” But its locked most of the time.”

After we had dinner, we were clearing up the dishes, when the doorbell rang.

I looked throught the peep hole to find a tall, hefty & definitely scary looking man with a smaller man.

“Who is it?” I asked nervously.

He mumbled something in a deep, rumbly voice.

Terrified, I ran to get my husband.

He opened the door a crack.

“Fisrt floor, paal…” the stranger said. (Paal is milk in tamil)

“You can take it if you want. Its not ours. Why are you troubling us this late for that?” My husband thundered at him before shutting the door.

The doorbell rang again.

Again, my husband opened the door a bit.

“First floor, Paal…” The stranger repeated.

“Don’t bother us again. If you do, I’ll call the cops. Whatever you want, you can ask the building supervisor on the top floor.” My husband roared. Since some of the flats were still in the finishing stages, we were yet to get a security guard.

“He not there..” The stranger informed us gruffly.

This time, me, my mom-in-law and dad-in-law stood behind my husband nervously.

“Shut the door!” we all hissed to my husband. “What if he has a knife or something?”

My husband shut the door after warning him with dire consequences if he rang our doorbell again.

I ran to the balcony to see if the thugs had left.

They were talking to each other, just outside the gate, near a parked bike. 

“Should we call the police?” I asked my husband.

“Wait..” he said, studying them intently.

“Trying to remember their faces.” he instructed me. “Just in case we’ll have to identify them later.”

I shuddered.

I held a bottle of oil in my hand, ready to throw on them if they dared to enter our gates again. (Why a bottle of oil? I have no clue! Maybe that was the closest then!)

A little later they started the bike and rode away.

We had a liitle conference in the living room.

We took stock of the other three occupants of the building. Only the third floor seemed vulnerable. There were two teen age boys home alone while their parents were travelling.

We decided to warn all the others anyway.

The ground floor guys never bothered to answer the door.

First floor was locked with the milk packets still on the doormat.

The boys on the third floor opened their doors immediately without even checking.

“Don’t ever do that.” Warned my husband. And he went on to explain about the prowlers we’d encountered. And asked them to call him on his mobile if they ever come back again.

Back home we secured the doors and discussed the importance of being safe in your own house.  Having done our bit, we went to sleep after cursing the missing building supervisor and the state of our country.


Next morning, on our way out we spotted the supervisor talking to the mason. 

“Where were you last night?” My husband asked him.

“Night show, sir…” he answered sheepishly.

We quickly recounted the previous night’s events. 

The supervisor asked us, ” Was he very tall & hefty?”


“Did he speak in a funny accent?”

“Yes, I think so…”

He then grinned from ear to ear and told him, “Sir, that was Paul sir’s friend”.

“Which Paul?”

“He stays in the first floor, sir. He has a Jamaican friend who visits him often. Paul sir has not been in town for a few days and his friend is looking for him. He came the previous night too…” He grinned at us, desperately trying not to laught at us to our stupified faces…

Once we were in the car, I broke the thick silence.

“So by first’ floor paal’, he meant ‘where’s Paul living in the first floor?’ and not ‘why is milk on the first floor doormat?’ isn’t it?”

“Shudduppp!” yelled my husband before roaring with laughter, “Oil bottle!!!” he pointed at me, gasping for breath.



  1. Adithya said,

    March 9, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Hahahaha, good one. Enjoyed.

    Thank you! 🙂

  2. maxdavinci said,

    March 9, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    I once met a gentleman at the Indian Science Congress who upon knowing my southern roots ranted to be on how he has stopped attending conferences and functions down south. The reason? people address him on stage as ‘yessu-paalu’

    The gentleman here being Proj.Yashpal, the famous cosmic ray physicist

    Haha! that was a good one!!

  3. buddy said,

    March 10, 2009 at 12:25 am

    stinky oil to ward him off?
    nice read!

    maybe! 🙂 thanx!!

  4. davematt said,

    March 10, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Good one… Oils well that ends well 🙂

  5. kusublakki said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:31 am


    🙂 thank you!

  6. March 11, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    If only first floor Paal’s friend had come back! He’d have found himself fried in refined sunflower oil (thanks to you) AND not known first floor Paal’s whereabouts! Thank God! Woh tho ‘paal’ ‘paal’ bach gaya!

    🙂 hehe.. i think it was coconut oil!

  7. March 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm please give more details about the oil as a weapon of mass destruction!

    :/ (sheepish grin!)

  8. Radhika said,

    March 14, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    hahahaha…………..reallly enjoyed reading

    Thank You! 🙂

  9. rads said,

    March 15, 2009 at 4:26 am

    LOL! The oil bottle was the funniest part. Actually, if you’d heated it up, would have served the purpose more me thinks 😛

    Good point! Why didn’t I think f it then?

  10. Tabor said,

    March 21, 2009 at 3:37 am

    I enjoyed this story very much. I wish I could right in another language and create fear and humor. Congrats!

    Thanx! 🙂

  11. Tabor said,

    March 21, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Gee, I can’t even “write” in my own language!


  12. maami said,

    March 26, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Paul….Tamizh ….Paul….as the song goes!

  13. Harish Ramaswamy said,

    April 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Haha, this is a very funny one!

    One of my friends moved to australia recently. During his orientation, this girl told him this :

    My OC roomies are a big pain I tell you! I am wondering why I came here only! OCs i tell you.

    She is mallu btw.
    Later, he understood. Aussies 😀

    😀 LOL!!

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