This is not so unusual scenario for residents of Samtse when they go to fetch milk. ‘…And it has been same for a decade now’, lamented a worried resident. The residents wait for the milk man in open space beside the Samtse Dzong under the southern scorching heat. The only milk Vander in the town brings in his diary milk twice a day. Around 4:00 pm in the evening and as early as 5:00 am in the morning.
My sisters, brother in law and I were visiting my parents who have lately been transferred here which made us fetch milk for them a day or two.
Day before yesterday evening we had gone to fetch the milk. We didn’t wait for long when the milk Vander arrived in silver colored Maruti Van. He had three big Milk tanks in his car and anxiously waiting costumers. As the Van stopped on the roadside the residents hurried to form a queue rushing and pushing each other to stand in the front.
The Milk Man is in his mid forties. He has worn a white apron, a pair of old slippers and very cheap half-pant which had its laces dangling in-front. His face was covered with sweats and he had worn a surgical mask which was supposed to cover his mouth but it was covering his chin instead. He was chewing Doma (betel nut) furiously and threatening the residents of not selling his diary milk to those who are not in the queue. Incredibly, all of them slowly adjusted into the queue. What else is expected when the seller is dominating the scene and when the helpless costumers don’t have a choice?
He started filling one bottle at a time and carefully counting the money twice. Few more bottles were fill in-queue when a couple of his close acquaintance costumers sneaked in from behind and he started filling their bottles. How democratic is that? I seriously believe that democracy is not all freedom but it is also equally means responsibility. Those sneakers really needed a serious education on democracy!
Back to our not so creamy milk man, he seems OK with it and when one of the fellow costumers complains about it he bluntly asked others to be in the queue. How wicked? He was handling the milk with his bare hands; the funnel went trembling on the floor and into the tanks and the milk man kept becoming more enraged as the queue shortened.
This morning my mother and I went to fetch the milk. The day, time and the place had changed but not his attitude, manner of handling his diary product and his other-wise valuable costumers. It was 5:00 am and we were standing in the queue in the main Taxi Parking.
We didn’t face any pushing and pulling as the number of costumers was less in the morning. But our infamous milk man with his infamous demeanors filled my bottle with approximately an ounce less than my mother’s. I asked him to see the difference in the level as we had the same sized bottles. He got angry and poured a jug of milk to fill my bottle and requested me not to come again to buy milk from him if I think it’s not working. Is it a Funny incident, insensible or an intolerable act? You decide. I was embarrassed but, I firmly thanked him.
Though he brings one of the most valuable commodities for the residents of Samtse Town but I didn’t feel to show my appreciation for this man nor did I find anybody interested too. For him, it seemed, only money counts. He was too busy doing business that he is un-aware of the invaluable service he has been rendering to the community here. He only knows how to drive his milk Van and take the money from his costumers but he seems certainly not aware that the money that helps him send his children to school or bring food on the table for his family comes out of the pockets of milk costumers like us. I don’t demand respect or humbleness from him but we deserve fairness and politeness on his part for the virtue of us being his costumer. He knows all the tricks under the sun how to betray the costumers but he seems not bothered or worried of the silent curses from his dormant costumers. God Bless Him.