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‘Mumbai Dabbawala’ is the Lifeline of Mumbai!

Amazing lunchbox delivery guys, these porters called "Dabbawalas" in the local language, have made a considerable difference in the lives of people by delivering timely lunch. They collect dabbas/lunch boxes from the homes of office goers and deliver them to their workplaces across Mumbai. This service is carried out non-stop across the year irrespective of the season. These dabbawalas not only carry the dabbas on their shoulders but also carry a high amount of responsibility of feeding thousands of mumbaites. These dabbawalas are not highly educated, nor equipped with technology. They use sign language for communication. This is the secret of their six sigma. All their dabbas have coding parameters in the sign language. Their dabbas have peculiar sizes and shapes that are uniform and optimized for efficient travel over the local rail network. They travel by local trains and have a network around the same. They are precise in timings and highly punctual.

Their unique operational method has been the subject of study for many business schools all around the globe. They have been appreciated by Prince Charles for their efficiency and accuracy and were also invited for his wedding ceremony. There are also certain women dabbawalas amongst the team who also carry out their duties with gusto. For them it is a part of daily life, they are so habitual to it that it's not supposedly dangerous for them. They travel in the luggage compartment on every train and all the dabbas are uniquely labelled which can be understood only by these gangs of dabbawalas.

These dabbawalas travel about 50km on the train with these dabbas and deliver about one lakh dabbas on daily basis. These dabbas are taken out of the railway station and handed over to dabbawalas on the bicycle who then deliver them to the respective offices. A few dabbawalas also have bikes for delivery. They seem to be operating at the six sigma level delivering the dabbas with great efficiency.

Published in BBC - In Pictures: Tiffin time in Mumbai