Monday, January 4, 2010

Three-card trick

Through most of the '70s, even well into the '80s, it was not uncommon to find cows and buffalos being led from street to street by the local milkman. Milk was fresh, straight from the udders and you could feel the warmth spread through the vessel as the milkman poured out your requirement. It was a leap, not merely of faith, but of several degrees of temperature, when Aavin began regular supply of milk through the city sometime in the '70s. Chilled bottles with candy-stripe tinfoil caps would be delivered at a milk booth, twice a day; folks from the neighbouring streets would have to come to the booth and pick-up their quota. Once you made a decision on how much milk you needed every day and how you wanted it split between the morning and the afternoon deliveries, you had to live with that decision for the rest of your life - or that is how it seemed to be.

Milk bottles gave way to half- and one-litre sachets; more choices came by. Toned, double-toned and low-fat varieties were added. More automatic vending machines sprung up. The gathering of housewives and servants at the milk booth of an afternoon gave way to aggregators picking up volumes on behalf of their customers; the new age milkmen, supplying sachets at your door, for a fee. With the state loosening its monopoly on milk in the late '90s, private dairies increased the choices available. Through it all, Aavin's milk-card remained a prize; with a discount of close to 15% being given to a card-holder, it made sense to buy a card. In the past, being allowed to buy one was the result of reams of documents and several 'inspections' and 'verifications'. You had to trade off the guarantee of supply (which the milkman was naturally very bad at) against the flexibility of your need (which Aavin seemed to consider an act of treason). And then the deal was "no card, no milk". But with Aavin simplifying the procedures significantly, the 15% discount looks very inviting. Even after the milkman's fee, you have something left over.

The dates for buying / renewing milk cards vary from locality to locality. Yesterday was our turn; our milkman came up and told us that there were new cards available at our booth, all we had to do was go there with proof of residence and we'd get our cards. And so, here I am, three years after having moved into my current flat, with the first set of my milk-cards!


Leif Hagen said...

Unless we live on a dairy farm, I don't think we could get milk that FRESH here!

GVK said...

No mean achievement,I guess - getting a milk card.

Shantaram said...

@ Leif: Haha - hope we don't get to that stage too soon!

@ GVK: Thank you for dropping by, sir - look forward to seeing you more often!!