[Mumbai, India] The dabbawallas of Mumbai

We were at Churchgate Station at precisely 11.30am this morning to see one of Mumbai’s most fascinating sights - the legendary dabbawalas of Mumbai in action.

As per Stefan Tomke’s article in the Harvard Business Review:
Six days a week, these 5,000 self-managed, semi-literate workers deliver upwards of 130,000 lunches from customers’ homes to their offices with astonishing precision: negotiating the crowded city by train, bicycle, and handcart, without the aid of any technology or even cell phones.

Founded in 1890, this century-year-old service is legendary for its reliability - despite monsoons, floods, riots, and even terrorist attacks, mistakes by the dabbawalas are 𝗲𝘅𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗹𝘆 rare.

Churchgate Station
Maharshi Karve Rd, Churchgate, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400020, India


Thanks. I read about this, but I wondered what the whole scene would look like.


Love the first photo.
Gravitas or insouciance?

It was absolutely amazing: the dabbawallas came from different directions, bringing individual bags containing tiffin carriers with their customers’ hot lunches, collected from their homes.

As they congregate at Churchgate Station, they started sorting the bags according to their destination areas. Then, the dabbawallas would set out on their respective delivery routes.

So very fascinating. Everything went by clockwork. Those guys interacted and talked like best friends. No arguments, no frayed tempers, no one who’s unsure of what he should be doing.


Neither - these dabbawallas were all so good-natured. This fellow was mildly amused that we were so overawed by what they were doing.


There have been several documentaries made about them (Top Gear even had an episode).

The system and code is fascinating.

(They brought me my lunch every day (and took it home after) during my school days.)


There was even a movie about this about 10 years ago - The Lunchbox

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