Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Home made yummy food- when was the last time you had them during your work hours? Many school and college students find it uneasy to carry a box of mom's cooking with them to their classes, let alone people who work. The concept of "tiffin boxes" have faded out for you to appear more cool amongst your peers. With the advent of so many fast food joints, canteens, food courts and other eateries close to your schools/work place, eating out during lunch has become a trend among the masses. The good old multi-tiered tiffin boxes of your grandma era has faded into oblivion. Hmmm... really?

In Mumbai, you are very likely to witness the remarkable precision of people with white khadi clothes and a Gandhi cap, working diligently to keep the tradition of "tiffin boxes" alive and kicking. The dabbawalas as they are all known, are unique people working in a unique profession: to carry lunch from the homes of the office-goers to their workplaces in the afternoon and to bring the empty boxes back using a variety of ways. The wifes and mothers of office goers employ these meticulous workers to carry the food to them- and their precision is about one error for 8 million deliveries, which is better than a six sigma rating! About 200000 lunch boxes are carried everyday by nearly 5000 dabbawalas across the city, with a complex association and hierarchy. Using colour coding and symbols only, all the lunch boxes of this sprawling city are meticulously carried out by the dabbawalas by bicycles, trolleys, wooden crates and the ever crowded Mumbai suburban trains, with unerring accuracy and timing. Focussing solely on human endeavour and social ingenuity, the uncanny organisational logistics and flawless operations of dabbawalas have earned them a high reputation in the management world, inviting heavy research and accolades from top management gurus and corporate bigwigs- yet many of these dabbawalas are just 8th graders.

Now, an avatar of these ubiquitous Dabbawalas has surfaced in the west. In the US, One World Cuisine group of restaurants has started "tiffin meals", a new home and office meal delivery service in Boston and Cambridge. With a click of a mouse, patrons can order quality home-style Indian food everyday for lunch. This new service was heavily influenced by the dabbawalas of Mumbai.

Founded by Mahadeo Havaji Bachche with just 100 men, dabbawalas have been in service for more than 115 years and they belong to the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association (NMTBSA). They possess a host of records and accolades, including the world record for the best time management. Rain or shine, these dabbawalas have a strike free record, and have earned the trust of the Mumbaikers. The kurta-clad simple dabbawalas are an icon in their own sense, and are synonymous with life in Mumbai. There are a lot of things you can learn from these dabbawalas- discipline, time management, honesty, integrity, pride in our work, contentment, and the sheer force of human capital in our ventures. The dabbawalas take their role as 'Annadatas' very seriously. For them, the delivery of food is not just a job- it is the noble means of quelling the hunger that strikes the customer when lunch hour approaches.

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Blogger Prabhat's Books and Comics said...

Wonderful blog!



3:44 PM, February 16, 2009  
Anonymous junbor said...

The trend for the lunch is the report writing services 14 ordinary form of action for people. They students get tiffin and many people in big cities of India use to get clutch through some person for the lunch, The trend is same as tiffing, The lunch boss delivered by someone to the people at their work place.

10:46 AM, September 29, 2016  

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