From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A dabbawala (Marathi: डबेवाला); also spelled as dabbawalla or dabbawallah; literally meaning ("box person"), is a person in India, most commonly found in the city of Mumbai, who is employed in a unique service industry whose primary business is collecting freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residences of the office workers (mostly in the suburbs), delivering it to their respective workplaces and returning the empty boxes back to the customer's residence by using various modes of transport. "Tiffin" is an old-fashioned English word for a light lunch or afternoon snack, and sometimes, by extension, for the box it is carried in. For this reason, the dabbawalas are sometimes called Tiffin Wallahs. Contents [hide] * 1 Etymology and historical roots * 1.1 The Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust * 2 Supply chain * 2.1 Appearance and coding * 2.2 Uninterrupted services * 3 Economic analysis * 3.1 Awards and recognition * 4 In Media * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links| -------------------------------------------------
Etymology and historical roots
A dabba, or Indian-style tiffin box.
The word "Dabbawala" in Marathi when literally translated, means "one who carries a box". "Dabba" means a box (usually a cylindrical tin or aluminium container), while "wala" is a suffix, denoting a doer or holder of the preceding word. The closest meaning of the Dabbawala in English would be the "lunch box delivery man". Though this profession seems to be simple, it is actually a highly specialized service in Mumbai which is over a century old and has become integral to the cultural life of this city. The concept of the dabbawala originated when India was under British rule. Many British people who came to the colony did not like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, although Indian businesspersons are the main customers for the dabbawalas, increasingly affluent families employ them instead for lunch delivery to their school-aged children. Even though the services provided might include cooking, it primarily consists of only delivery either home-made or in that latter case, food ordered from a restaurant. The Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust
This service originated in 1880. In 1890, Mahadeo Havaji Bachche and Ananth Mandra Reddy started a lunch delivery service with about 100 men.In 1930, he informally attempted to unionize the dabbawallas. Later a charitable trust was registered in 1956 under the name of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust. The commercial arm of this trust was registered in 1968 as Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier's Association. The present President of the association is Raghunath Medge. Nowadays, the service often includes cooking of food in addition to the delivery. -------------------------------------------------
A collecting Dabbawala on a bicycle
Mumbai is a very densely populated city of millions with huge flows of traffic. Because of this, lengthy commutes to workplaces are common, with many workers traveling by train. Instead of going home for lunch or paying for a meal and eating out every day in a café, many office workers have a cooked meal sent either from their home, or sometimes from a caterer who essentially cooks and delivers the meal in lunch boxes and then have the empty lunch boxes collected and re-sent the same day. This is usually done for a monthly fee of about 450 Indian rupees. The meal is cookedin the morning and sent in lunch boxes carried by dabbawalas, who have a complex association and hierarchy across the city.
Dabbawalas in action at a Mumbai Suburban Railway station. A collecting dabbawala, usually on bicycle, collects dabbas either from a worker's home or from the dabba...