Mumbai Story 2 – Dabbawalas: Lifeline of Mumbaikars Daily Lunch

Mumbai Story 2 – Dabbawalas: Lifeline of Mumbaikars Daily Lunch

About 125 years ago, a Parsi banker wanted to have home-cooked food in his office and hired someone to collect it from his home and bring it to him at work. He was the first ever Dabbawala or tiffin carrier. Many people liked the idea and the demand for Dabba delivery soared.

In the beginning the deliveries were informal, with arrangements being made between workers and Dabbas. But one day an Indian entrepreneur Mahadeo Havaji Bachche saw the opportunity and started the lunch delivery service. He started with a team of 100 Dabbawalas.

As the city grew, the demand for Dabba delivery grew too.

The system has developed and from the original 100 Dabbawalas in 1890 there is today a Mumbai Army of 5,000 Dabbawalas fulfilling the hunger of almost 200,000 workers with home-cooked food brought from their home to their office and back each day and on time.

The people who use the service tend to be middle-class citizens who, for reasons of economy, hygiene, caste and dietary restrictions or simply because they prefer whole-some food from their kitchen, rely on the dabbawala to deliver a home cooked mid-day meal.

Most of them reach work by train, which means they leave home early and may be boarding chaotically packed carriages, making carrying their own tiffin a challenge. The Dabbawalla system provides a welcome solution by collecting meals prepared at home, then getting them to the office and back.

Today let’s see the life of a dabbawala who live in slums and have a just in time delivery record be in summer, winter, floods, rains, etc. 

“People Living in Slums are the one who actually runs the city of MUMBAI”

Life of Dabbawala Vitthalbhai

Life of Shankar

See a day in the life of Shankar — one of 5,000 Dabbawalas in Mumbai responsible for delivering 200,000 fresh home-cooked lunches to Mumbai’s office workers each day. Each day, with 60kg on his head, a Dabbawala travels some 65km. This home-cooked network makes less than 1 mistake per 6 million deliveries.

Life of Dabbawalas

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