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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Aavin milk crates continues to be stolen !

A recent newsitem in Times of India read – ‘50,000 milk crates stolen in six months, bizarre theft unsolved’ – going by the value of items and the fact that they were broad on roadside, perhaps there may not be strong action !

Those who are  in middle ages, would remember the olden days scramble for milk in themorning. In the mid 1970s was the paradigm shift in the city of Chennai to pasteurizedmilk. Prior to that the localities depended entirely on the neighbourhood cowherds formilk. They use to buy cow’s milk as also buffalo milk for different needs. The milkmanwould come in front of the house,  show the utensil for a customary check before theytouch the udder and then milch the cattle in their presence – still people used tocomplain of the milk being very much watery.

Then slowly people shifted to pasteurized milk supplied by the Govt. which was a verybig hit those days. The process (not of manufacture) but of getting it home wasarduous. The milk van would come early in the morning, the attendant at the boothwould unload and nap for a few more minutes. Around 0500 am, there would a bigqueue lined before each booth. Each had to carry either the empty bottle asreplacement for the milk in bottle or carry a utensil, into which the milk from the bottlewould be poured. Here also people complained that the booth attendant would not pourthe milk in its entirety but keep some quantity back, which would then collected andmade in to more bottles – small drops of milk make more bottles !! It was very fragile,the milk crate would contain 20 bottles and crates would often be handled roughlyresulting in breakages – besides there was always the lurking fear of the bottles beingdropped on way to home. There were specially made iron carriers which would house3 / 4/ more bottles – contraptions making lives easier. Almost every street had a booth.

The empty van (MT) would come hours later to collect the empty bottles and thecrates would whizz past – being thrown with specialized skill into the lorry. The processwould repeat itself again the afternoon – supply at 0300 pm and collection at around0430 pm.On days, when the carrying van had a breakdown or delay to any other reason, whichwere not so frequent, residents would exhibit their impatience cursing everything asthey could not have their morning coffee in time. Those were the times, when arefrigerator was a great luxury to be had in less than a dozen houses in the entirelocality. Moreover the milk was scarce and not easily available. One has to use someinfluence and extra money in procuring a monthly card.

People will have to see to believe that eagerness and joy of South Indians  in sipping that filter coffee made from those roasted seeds of coffee beans. It took them a great change of mind to shift from the milk (where they could see thecattle) to getting the milk in bottles, being prepared elsewhere.

The recent newsitem in TOI  states that thieves continue to make away with empty milk crates from shops that sell milk. It's a bizarre crime and one that the city police have not been able to solve despite milk dealers lodging repeated complaints.Members of Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers' Welfare Association last week lodged a second complaint in two months and handed CCTV camera footage of the culprits stealing crates in Ramapuram. The association members said the thieves have stolen more than 50,000 crates over the past six months in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, taking as many as 20,000 over the past three months.

The association's president, said thieves had stolen crates from 15 locations across Chennai even after they lodged their first complaint with the city police commissioner's office on May 8.“But officers at many police stations don't accept our complaints. They have not taken any action so far even though they registered cases,“ he said.

Thefts do occur – these may never be recovered… ..but is there any sinister design ? – when MNC softdrinks entered Indian market, there were so many soda manufacturers locally [Goli soda and paneer soda !] – now almost they stand wiped out.  It is often said that MNCs resorted to buy empty bottles even at a higher cost and destroyed them – that was an act of destroying the supply chain – the cost of empty bottles formed a high % of the price of Soda unlike the soft drinks where the cost is low and profit is high….. now you have shops selling only branded soft drinks and perhaps the next generation will not even know of the goli sodas that ruled the roost a generation earlier to us.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th July 2015.

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