Friday, 21 December 2012

Lunchtime in Mumbai - the tale of the Dabbawallas

Dear readers,
How do people have lunch in this city of over 20 million inhabitants? Well, some go out to eat - to anywhere from small pavement-stalls to 5 star restaurants. Some have canteens at their work, and some bring food. But did you know that almost half a million people get their hot home - cooked lunch delivered from home to their office/school everyday? How? Well, this is where our friends, the Dabbawallas, enter our tale. They are the wallas ( person, boy, men ) who deliver the dabbas (box)  ..

My son had a project about the Dabbawallas at school, and peeking into his work made me curious. How can 5000 wallas manage to bring warm home-made fresh lunch from home to work / school for almost half a million people? And if that wasn't enough - in a city like Mumbai - one of the most densely populated cities in the world. And all that, by using only bicycles, hand - wagons and local trains. I found their system fascinating and so did apparently Prince Charles by the way!

I became even more impressed when I got a chance to see their system from close. One day we went to hear more about their work and how they structure their days. Churchgate train station is a meeting point, and we hang around them there - (again in company of my fellow curious adventure looking explorer friends and we watched the hand wagons coming and going,  the dabbas going on and off, the wallas going to and from and the organised piles of dabbas on the pavement. Fascinating! It is indeed incredible that their rate of mistake is like 1 to a million or something. You can see an interesting video about the Dabbawallas on youtube and also at the same time have a look at the busy streets of Mumbai where they navigate every day: The Dabbawallas in Mumbai.

The hand-wagons coming and going..

Organizing the dabbas on the pavement

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