Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Love Logistics

“When it’s planes in the sky,

For a chain of supply,

That’s logistics,

When the pipes for the line,

Come precisely on time,

That’s logistics.”

I can’t get that jingle out of my head, or apparently anybody who listens to it.

The latest commercial from US based package delivery company United Parcel Service (UPS) is a rip-off of the classic Dean Martin song ‘That’s Amore’.

As much as purists will rue the fact that it has now made a beautiful Italian country song, a commercial jingle which will only be associated with the brand, you can’t deny the fact that the song is catchy or for that matter ignore that oft-repeated word, ‘logistics’.

Their catch line, “We Love Logistics” strikes a chord with me because my life depends on it.

As I live away from home, if it were not for logistics, I wouldn’t be eating my favourite Dorset cereals for breakfast or treat myself to the occasional cardamom waffle that you only get at home.

It’s not that these things aren’t available in India (with the exception of those waffles perhaps) but they’re very expensive!

Probably the fact that in Bahrain, you don’t pay taxes for anything makes commodities cheaper.

I usually am sent a six-month supply of breakfast and if it were not for logistics, I wouldn’t be having cranberries and toasted sultanas every morning.

This blissful morning rhythm was interrupted when logistics went terribly awry.

Bahrain Post, the usual lifesaver decided to play truant.

The parcel which my seven-year-old brother Abhishek dutifully carried to the post office in the first week of September, didn’t reach me even after three weeks.

The weeks would pass by,
And my mornings were dry,
Where’s logistics?

In the meanwhile a gift for my mum’s birthday which I sceptically sent through India Post, actually reached Bahrain in a week rather than the 15 days they usually take.

This has got to be pure cruelty, I thought.

Who eats muesli, that too, organic cereals for breakfast, except me?

Why would they steal it?

In the meanwhile, the online tracking system showed that Bahrain Post had actually shipped my parcel to Mumbai but there was no action after that.

My brother was inconsolable.

“You don’t worry,” he said over the phone.

“We’ll get you your breakfast,” he said reassuringly while I nearly cried.

As the end of September approached, I had to send another birthday present to Bahrain.

I went to India Post where I suppose my luck ran out because they refused to ship my animal-shaped exotic pasta.

My only hope was DHL who are located at Breach Candy, not far from where I lived.

Weighing the contents, Sanjay, the kind operations manager asked me what was in it.

“Some chocolates, cards, dry pasta and a craft item,” I said.

“I’m afraid we don’t ship chocolates,” he said.

“Are you kidding me?” I was in shock.

My friend gets exotic chocolates sent from the UK every month, so why I can’t I send them too?

“They’re milk products, hence perishable. It’s company policy not to take perishable items,” he said.

Fine, not the chocolates, but at least the pasta?

Yes, they could go.

I was about to skip for joy until Sanjay checked whether they delivered to the residential area I had mentioned- they didn’t.

“It’s close to the capital and he always gets packets delivered, so why not mine?” I asked.

“Well, we’ve classified it as ‘remote area’. We deliver to Manama and Isa Town,” he said.

In desperation, I pointed to the cards and the handmade fish-shaped drawstring pouch and asked, “At least, can the fish go?”

“It’ not about the fish, it’s just that our outreach is limited,” he said

Sanjay however, was a delivery man and as DHL deliver whatever it takes, he agreed to send the parcel to Manama after which, it might be delivered either to my friend’s doorstep or he would have to travel to the capital to collect it.

That was a deal, except it wasn’t kind on my wallet at all.

The efficiency of express couriers such as DHL is such that they keep you updated on every move.

So I received a text and an email every time the package moved to a new storehouse or was being shipped.

By noon the following day, the parcel had reached the island.

In a strange coincidence, I received a call around the same time that the cereals from home were finally here.

All’s well that ends well, except my cardamom waffles now pulverised to dust are fit only to make milkshakes.

When the parcel arrives,

My world lights up with smiles,

I love logistics!

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