Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lunch in Mumbai





Traveling as far as thirty miles away, the dabbawalas begin each day by picking up homemade lunches and delivering them to workers either in an office or factories in Mumbai. As you can imagine, being the second most populated city in the world, the traffic in this city is crowded and often jammed beyond reason, preventing people from leaving their workplace to eat lunch. Under British rule, this was the way many British workers dined......also, workers spend a great deal of time commuting to and from work making lunchtime totally unfeasible to travel away from the office for lunch.
For a small fee, the dabbawalas arrive around 9:30 to pick up the specially designed containers and off they go, either on bike or foot, to the final destination. Mass lunch brigades on coffin like platforms arrive by train and then are picked up by a very organized team and delivered to the designated destination. You will notice on the lunch containers codes to determine what train the lunches will be carried on and the code for final delivery. Churchgate Station is a great location to witness the incredible display of teamwork. The action commences around 11:30am when containers are loaded off the trains and grouped for delivery. To top it all off, the lunch containers(tiffins)are then picked up after lunch and delivered back home, ready to prepare for the next day. Needless to say, scheduling and timeliness are essential for this profession.

14 comments:

Cynthia said...

Isn't it something? The first time I read about them years ago, I was so moved by their sheer energy.

I see you have decided not to take me up on the offer as your bag holder as your travel the world :)

Jann said...

I am amazed how how well this method functions and how long it has been going on! How I do wish I could take all my friends with me on these travels..........I still have a book for you! I have not forgotten!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What has always amazed me is how efficient this system is, and how many thousands and thousands of tiffins are delivered every day. There was a wonderful documentary made about this a few years ago.

Simona said...

How interesting! I did not know about this custom.

Jann said...

lydia~I agree with you! The tiffins somehow manage "not" to get lost-amazing!I think I remember that documentary, even though when I was there I forgot most of what I had seen......thanks so much for visiting!

Jann said...

Simona~ How are you! I think of you so often....how was your last trip to Italy? This is a city I hope you can see sometime! Take care and my best to your hubby!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I'm sure I could never get it all straight, this always boggles my mind that they can do this.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I really enjoy your snapshots of food life around the world. It's great to hear your "voice" again!

Christine said...

This is fascinating. I had no idea. Great post, Jann!

Erin said...

I've heard of these types of food deliveries before. It would be facinating to see it in person; it sounds like a very organized system!

Anonymous said...

Great blog and photos, I can just sense the atmosphere
Anne
ps I'm an old school friend of Christine Cooks

Lil' Boozie said...

Hi Jann- I'll have to echo the sentiments of a few others, and wish that I could see this in person. What a simple, yet novel idea. Our world never ceases to engage & educate me :). Great photos too!

Best,
Suz (a.k.a. Lil' Boozie)

kayla said...

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Cynthia's Blog said...

they do this in Malaysia too! I sort buttons and beads in my tiffin.