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Saturday, November 21, 2015

did you have your morning coffee in time even when it rained ? Thank Aavin !!

There is respite from rain in Chennai.  South Indians are fond of Coffee [the concoction of filter coffee made from those roasted seeds of coffee beans]

A few decades ago, when it rains, jokes on watery milk and coffee would abound.  Those days people depended  entirely on the neighbourhood cowherds for milk. They use to buy cow’s milk as also buffalo milk for different needs. The milkman would come in front of the house,  show the utensil for a customary check before they touch the udder and then milch the cattle in their presence – still people used to complain of the milk being very much watery.  Milkmen adding water was the butt of joke writers and there was this famous cartoon – where the cowboy would tell that the milk is not thick because, the cow stood in rain water and was fully drenched !.  Milk & Honey – often said to describe a land of real riches.  More than honey, we are bothered about milk – for that provides our morning coffee.   Though the brands have proliferated, Aavin still rules the roost.

Though the dairy was established in 1958, Tamil Nadu too adopted ‘Anand pattern’ and  Tamilnadu Co-operative Milk Producers' Federation Limited was registered in 1981.  It encompassed all commercial activities including milk  Procurement, Processing, Chilling, packing and sale of milk to the consumers etc., - its trademark is ‘ Aavin ’. Aavin  became quite a hit with a neat infrastructure with chilling centres, pasteurization plants and modern processing system. Aavin has four dairy plants located at  Ambattur (2), Madhavaram and  Sholinganallur.  In the product diary  at Ambattur is manufactured milk products such as Yogurt, Ice Cream, Khova, Gulabjamoon, Buttermilk, Curd and Mysorepak.

Those now in middle ages [ read closer or above 50s], would remember the olden days scramble for milk in the morning. In the mid 1970s was the paradigm shift in the city of Chennai to pasteurized milk.  Not sure whether Aavin was as modernized as it is now – the process (not of manufacture) of getting it home was arduous. Each street had a milk boot or two.  Aavin milk van would come early in the morning, the attendant at the booth would unload and nap for a few more minutes. Around 0500 am, there would a big queue lined before each booth. Each had to carry either the empty bottle as replacement for the milk in bottle or carry a utensil, into which the milk from the bottle would be poured.  Specially made milk crate would contain 20 bottles and crates would often be handled roughly resulting in breakages- domestic consumers carried specially made iron carriers which would house3 / 4/ more bottles – contraptions making lives easier.

The empty van (MT) would come hours later to collect the empty bottles and the crates would whizz past – being thrown with specialized skill into the lorry. The process would repeat itself again the afternoon – supply at 0300 pm and collection at around 0430 pm. On days, when the carrying van had a breakdown or delay to any other reason, which were not so frequent, residents would exhibit their impatience cursing everything as  they could not have their morning coffee in time. Those were the times, when refrigerator was a great luxury to be had in less than a dozen houses in the entire locality. Moreover the milk was scarce and not easily available. One had to use some influence and extra money in procuring a monthly card.

With the long backdrop, read this report that appeared in Times of India, Chennai edition of date titled : ‘ Work isn't all milk & honey, but Aavin keeps the flow’.

Come rain or shine, for some it's business as usual. They have to deliver essential goods and services and deliver them they will. Employees of state-run milk cooperative Aavin, traffic policemen, doctors and hospital staff, corporation workers and newspaper hawkers all braved the unprecedented showers in the city over the past 10 days to show up at work.An Aavin employee's workday starts at 11pm, a day in advance, when they collect milk sachets from the cooperative's three dairies in Chennai and distribute them to milk booths across the city. Around 6,000 employees in the state work in rotation 365 days a year as do vendors who collect milk sachets from booths and distribute them at the doorsteps of their customers. They go about their work even in the heaviest rain, wearing raincoats or arming themselves with umbrellas. “Only six to seven years ago, distribution of milk from the Ambattur dairy was delayed after rainwater entered the facility,“ a senior  official said. “Even today , water enters the dairy and milk distribution to some areas is sometimes delayed but by and large we deliver milk sachets to the booths at the same time every day”.

Aavin distributes more than 11.5 lakh litres in Chennai daily . The milk sachets reach all houses before 6am or by 7am at the latest. “Around 100 trucks distribute milk to booths in the city ,“ the official said. “A driver and cleaner man each truck.” During last week's torrential rain in Chennai most essential services were affected -electricity, buses, water supply, sewerage and so on, said V Chandrasekhar, a professor who lives in Besant Nagar. “But Aavin did not let the rain affect service,“ he said. “We continued to receive our milk regularly”. Milk Distributors Association founder S A Ponnusamy said the collective comprises around 12,000 vendors who distribute Aavin and private milk sachets to every house. “We start our work at 3am when Aavin and private milk companies unload milk sachets”, he said. “We then distribute the milk sachets to various households, restaurants, tea shops and retail stores.”

Often good and  hard work goes unnoticed !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Nov. 2015

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