Imagine a world that is all hunky-dory and you think of ordering a food delivery through Uber Eats, Zomato, Swiggy, etc. Depending on which part of the world that you’re in. It would be a whole different ballgame thanks to the Dabbawalla in case you’re in Mumbai.
Dabbawalla literally translated would be the “box keeper” and they deliver lunch boxes from the residence to the respective office as a courier. No frills, no app, no telephone.
The dabbas or the boxes are in tiers of three or four depending on the food accompaniment and are preferred by office goers who don’t want to get ill eating outside food or long for home-cooked food by the mother or wife. The dabbawallas ferry an estimated 80 million lunches in a year and are recognized by their white Gandhi cap and white kurta. They hail from the same village in Pune and are illiterate according to estimates since they colour code their packaging and denote them with symbols and it has been going on unchanged for 127 years. In Mumbai, approximately 5,000 dabbawallas carry 200,000 lunches daily.
They have also been a study at Harvard Business School for the efficiency with which they carry out their operations as they have a failure rate of .00000167%
The origins of this success story can be traced back to Mahadeo Havaji Bacche, a banker who was a Parsi who wanted home-cooked food and therefore hired a man from Pune to do the job and the rest is history.