Yangyel Lhaden

On the second day of the lockdown in Thimphu, the place I live in was cordoned off. It was a “red” cluster, meaning I cannot go out or go shopping for essentials.

It caught me off-guard. I was running out of essentials and my plan to go shopping coincided with our area being sealed off.

I had  never contacted the 1010 helpdesk. I heard many people complain about the toll-free number not being efficient. While some people complain about rude people on the line, others said it takes “ages” to get to one of them.

I had to call 1010. It was the only way  I could buy some  essentials. I was already running out of rice.  I tried calling several times without success.  Finally, at 1:30pm, a de-suup answered my call.

De-suup continue to deliver essential items past 3:00am (Photo: De-suup essential delivery team)

The tone was comforting.  “ Kuzuzangpola, speaking from 1010. How may I help you?” she said.

“I have been trying to call 1010 since morning and thank goodness someone finally  answered,” I said with relief. The woman was apologetic. “Sorry Madam. The line is very busy these days and thank you for your patience.”

I passed my list of orders. She said the delivery team would contact me soon. I was not convinced and thought it would take a few days before the delivery team would contact me.

In the evening, between 6:00pm and 8:30pm, a de-suup from  the delivery service called. There are different teams assigned to buy and deliver. They are divided into two groups. One group is assigned for vegetables and meat, while the other group is for groceries, tobacco and alcohol. When they are done shopping, the team meet together and deliver.

All of them added me in their WhatsApp group.

The first call came from the vegetable delivery team. “Madam, you have only ordered potatoes. Would you like to order other vegetables?” he asked. I took time to respond and the de-suup came with a solution.  He offered a video call so that I could see what vegetables to buy.

The de-suup took me for a virtual shopping trip. He picked cilantro and asked if I wanted it for my salad. Next on the screen was oyster mushrooms. “It is fresh,” he said.

I screened for vegetables and specified the amount. I was asked to mBOB the amount and send a screenshot of the payment. I asked him if he was in charge of delivering meat as well.  The De-suup offered to buy meat when he is done with vegetables.

The grocery delivery team sent me the bill on WhatsApp. I found some of my orders missing. I requested the de-suup if he could add my missing orders. I felt comfortable asking for more despite knowing  I was asking for too much. My experience with the first de-suup encouraged me.

Around 11pm I received a call. “Madam, are you asleep? We are coming to deliver your order right now. Could you please come out?” a friendly voice on the other end said.

De-suups in two pick-up trucks were outside my house and were gathering all the orders. My order was number 36. I don’t know how many more orders they had to cater to.

“We apologise for coming at this hour to deliver,” said one.

They drove off right away after they delivered my items. The night was still young for them. They still had more than half the orders left to deliver to call off the night.

I might be one of the lucky ones, but I really appreciated the service. As I walked home with the shopping, I couldn’t help but thank them and the Desuung institution for the role they play in the current pandemic.