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If someone taps into my phone to gather important information about what I am doing and thinking, they will wonder whether I am planning a murder.

“Can you get me a knife sharpener and industrial tape”? I phone my wife who is on an errand at our favourite shopping area.

“Do you mean masking tape?” asks my wife. “Why don’t we just buy a new knife? I am sure they don’t have a knife sharpener. What does it look like?”

The reason why I need a knife sharpener is because the other day I tried cutting tomatoes to make a fluffy omelette that I like having for breakfast, and I was really struggling to chop the soft vegetable.

Chefs say a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife, because you tend to put more pressure, and when it slips you are liable to injure yourself.

Before the lockdown I saw a man on a stationary bicycle in our neighbourhood in north Bengaluru, with a pedal grinding wheel attached, and it was fun to watch as he was really making the sparks fly.

He was like an artist, like a travelling one-man circus and he would go around the neighbourhood, setting up shop under a tree and he had a sign that said, well, yes, “knife sharpener”.

I quickly looked up Google to describe what a knife sharpener looks like and got distracted when a man dressed up in army camouflage was saying how important a sharp knife is when out hunting or fishing, or even hiking.

H showed a rectangular stone on which to run the knife at a 10 degrees angle, holding the knife with just the tips of the fingers and sliding it across the wet stone.

“It looks like a rectangular stone”, I told my wife.

If someone has tapped into our phone and is listening to our conversation, they might think we are running a dangerous syndicate.

“Can you get two thou?”, said my wife on the phone as I was heading out to the bank. My wife speaks strangely when the maid or cook is nearby because she is sure that they know English.

A ‘thou’ for your information, is a thousand. She learnt to speak in this code language from her aunt. “I am going to put one L in fixed deposit,” the aunt said the other day to my wife, as I was listening on the speaker phone.

(Just for your information, a Lakh or “L” is 100,000)

I quickly interrupted and said, “If the servants know English, they will know what fixed deposit is, and that you are planning to move the cash from under your mattress to your bank very soon, and can plan a money heist.”

“What is your secret short form for a crore?” I then asked the aunt. (A crore is 10 million).

“CR”, she replied promptly.

The other day my wife called while I was out in the car and she said, “Don’t panic, but U has a sore throat. He may not have C but I have asked him to get a test.”

“You are telling me this now, I whispered angrily. U is driving me around now. What is the point of not going out and wearing two masks when C gets in through the help,” I said.

I then wondered why anyone would want to tap into a journalist’s phone. No journo can keep a secret and they spill it out anyway.

My beat when I was a reporter, was health, and there are not many things to hide in that sector.

At a top secret briefing somewhere: “What do you have to report from the phone tapping on M?”

“We don’t know what M and his W are saying most of the time. But he is buying knives, we don’t know why”.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi