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Dabbawalas - Delivering home-made food since 125 years although Mumbai:

Ever heard of a daily food delivery team, who deliver 200,000 lunch boxes a day, with 6-sigma level of Accuracy that means only 1 mistake in a 6 million chances?? Wonder where this exists? Here comes the answer, MUMBAI-INDIA.

"Dabbawalas", they are known with this name. Dabbawalas is a word of the native language Hindi, which can be understood simply by splitting it. Dabba means the Carrier boxes in which they carry the food, and Walas mean the workers or the doers who play a main role in delivering them to the destinations. In a simple phrase, Dabba-Walas mean the people who carry the tiffin or the lunch boxes, and help them reach the defined destinations.

This delivery system has been ranked the best in the World. It is said that even the dignified personalities like Prince Charles has visited to watch them work. Inspired by their work, he did invite them heart fully for his marriage. He is astonished seeing their technique of delivery, that let the carrier boxes reach on time to the defined destination without a small mistake (as said the 6 sigma level of accuracy in the Carrier delivery-not through rigorous study, but by Raghunath Medge, the Mumbai Tiffen's Association President during 1998).

When asked them the idea behind how it started, they say it all started Informally. It started when a Parasi banker wanted to have the home-cooked food for him at the office, instead of eating outsides. This is the start of the first Dabbawala, and then Mahadeo Havaji Bachche has a visionary look, and has looked over the opportunity in this and this started the delivery of the lunch boxes with 100 members. The growth of the city and the demand for the home-food to be delivered right to office led to the increase in the team of dabbawalas and some new techniques. Now they are a team of around 5000 in total, and do deliver 200,000 food-boxes a day. Isn't that a great increase? It is said that this 125 year-old Dabbawala delivery continues to grow at a rate of 5-10% of the total.

The techniques they follow in delivery isn't much advanced, but more effective. Most of the dabbawalas being Semi-literate(know basic alphabets, numbers and counting) maintain some codes beneath the boxes that hep them identify where the box needs to be traveled. The codes include the Abbreviations for the Collection Points where they are categorized, the color codes for the starting and destination points, along with the building and floor at the destination. However, this used to be numbered before, but now it is Alpha-Numerical due to the increasing places of delivery. You can find lot of videos about Mumbai dabbawala on YouTube for their commitment and delivery.

The famous Dabbawala they say is Mr Richard Branson, a reputed business magnate and the founder of Virgin has traveled with them and delivered the lunch to his own employees at Virgin, Mumbai. Their attire includes wearing a White Cotton-Kurta Pyjamas, a white Gandhi's Cap(topi), a wooden crate for carrying those lunch boxes and two bicycles which they solely need to afford. They are paid Rs.8000 to Rs.10000 based on their delivery. A Day in their life includes(in their own words):

It is totally a 9-hour work, that starts with the Dabbawalas waking up soon, having a bath and put a Tilak on their fore-head. He then starts out by 9pm on the bicycles to collect the tiffin-boxes from the homes of an area and takes them to a near-by railway station on a bicycle inspite of all the muddy, dirty and bad roads of Mumbai, and even though it is a Monsoon time, where many dabbawalas will be already there. Then, they categorize them based on the destination and their coding technique and get into the trains by arranging those carriers in a wooden crate, a minimum of 60 carriers in one crate. When the final stop Church gate arrives, they get down with those crates and re-arrange them helping each other. Then they are carried on wheels beneath those crates to let the carriers reach the final destinations, may be Skyscrapers, Business Centers and Shops etc. This will be entorely done before the clock strikes 1pm. Then they all gather at a place, pray for a while and have their lunch. The work isn't over with this. Then they again start after a while to collect those empty boxes, and deliver them to the starting points before 6pm. It isn't an easy work as it seems, but a hectic task that these guys have been doing with immense passion and dedication since 125 years. This is the sole reason that this industry is to life, because of no mistake.

Have a doubt on what's inside a Dabba? They say along with the food, a dabba carries the Love and caring of the house-wives to their beloved dear ones. They don't actually open the Dabba, and it happens to change the hands of 4-6 people. People used to say they don't just share the food, but sometimes movie tickets, a love letter, an apology note and a flower etc. An average dabba weighs about 1.5 kg, and they carry it with utmost care.

The Dabbawalas have become a part of the Mumbai's culture. There are many documentaries, short-films that are even shot with this theme of Delivery, keeping dabbawalas in primary focus. A Guinness record was also noted when a dabbawala Prakash Baly Bachche carried 3 Wooden crates at a time on March 21st, 2011. Some people have also carried Ph.D researches on these people, while a few case studies are featured showing the qualities of their On-time delivery, Consistent and Accuracy. They have also been in featured in news many-a-time.

Dabbawala delivery has a World-wide reputation for their Consistency and Trsut-Worthiness. Their dedication towards the work is applauded and appreciated all around the world. It seems so astonishing to see the Dabbawalas deliver perfectly with their olden techniques, instead of technological changes. They are a Pride to India. A lot of skills, especially the qualities like the Trust-Worthiness and Time management along with the dedication towards their work, need to be learned from them and inculcated.

Salute to all the Dabbawalas out there who deliver not just the food, but the Love of a House-hold to their beloved at Offices.

Here is their official site and you can also find more information about them: Mumbai dabbawalas:


#dabbawala #mumbaidabbawala #dabbawalamumbai
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