How do the ‘dabbawallas’ of Mumbai deliver more than 350,000 home-cooked lunches to office workers every working day?

I confess that I had never heard of the ‘dabbawallas’ of Mumbai until I read reviews of the 2013 Indian film “The Lunchbox” and only very recently did I manage to see the film [my review here]. So who are these ‘dabbawallas’ and how do they work?

“Mumbai’s committed contingent of 5,000 dabbawallas delivers over 350,000 lunches per day to office workers across the megacity. Typically the lunches are packed in stacked metal lunchboxes which lend this collection of culinary couriers their name: dabba = tiffin, container; walla = worker. Each tiffin is picked up at the client’s home, delivered to his office, and then returned, a trip during which it will typically pass through the hands of at least 12 dabbawallas across an elaborate zoning system. Somewhere in the middle—far away from the fast-paced delivery antics—a home-cooked lunch is enjoyed.”

This is the opening of a fascinating online article about the ‘dabbawalla’ system which you can read here.


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