21 November, 2010

The Dabbawalas

Dabbawalas Carting

Dabbawalas are about 5,000 men in Mumbai who routinely deliver home cooked lunches in lunch box or tiffin.  Dabba means lunch box or tiffin. The practice is 120 years old where lunch is cooked at home, picked up by a tiffin man between 9am and 10am, and then is passed quickly through a series of train and push cart transfer that get the tiffin to the customer's office.

Dabbawala Rail Crossing

One tiffin carrier changes hands at least four times between home and office. Each tiffin man can easily carry up to 40 tiffin carriers in a tray balanced on his head or arranged in a push cart.

Dabbawalas wearing traditional Gandhi topi usually work in groups of 40.

Dabbawala:  Essen Lieferservice in Mumbai

The tiffin boxes that arrived from the suburbs by train are divided up between the dabbawalas, each would sling 40-odd boxes onto his bicycle handlebars.

The distribution system has not changed since 120 years ago and is among the world's most efficient. It is claimed that the tiffin men make only one mistake in six million deliveries.

More information can be found HERE.

1 comment:

Kat Tanaka Okopnik said...

Hey...your photo of the dabbawalla with the bicycle is one of the most gorgeous images of its type on google images search right now.

I'd love to use it as the icon for the dabbawalla topic on quora.com