Dabbawalas in Mumbai

Unique to Mumbai, India the ‘Dabbawala’ is a person who collects freshly cooked food in lunch boxes called ‘Tiffin Boxes’ from the residences of the office workers (mostly in the suburbs), delivering it to their workplaces and returning back the empty boxes by using various modes of transport. The word ‘Dabbawala’ literally translated means “one who carries a box”. Roughly 4,500 dabbawalas collect and deliver close to 200,000 packages within hours in Mumbai with such accuracy that package delivery companies are coming to study their primitive but effective and accurate ways of working. The entire system depends on teamwork and timing. Tiffin boxes are collected from homes between 7.00 am and 9.00 am by a dabba usually on a bike, and taken to the nearest railway station. At various intermediary stations, they are hauled onto platforms and sorted out for area-wise distribution, so that a single Tiffin box could change hands three to four times in the course of its daily journey. At Mumbai’s city stations, the last link in the chain, a final relay of dabbawalas fan out to the Tiffin’s’ destined offices. When lunch hour is over, the whole process moves into reverse and the Tiffin boxes return to suburban homes by 6.00 pm. In these images you will see the entire process. The Dabbawala’s going door to door in neighborhoods picking up the Tiffin’s, putting them on their bikes, taking them to train stations, riding with them on the trains to the financial district downtown, sorting them out downtown, tea breaks, walking the boxes to another area, delivering them to the offices, having lunch, then picking them up again to deliver empty boxes back to homes.

Usage Rights & Citation

You must give appropriate credit to the organization as the source of the photo. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the organization endorses you or your use. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. MORE

Download Options
Small Medium Large
Additional Tags:
CarryCartdabbawalaFoodIndiaLoadMumbaiSouth AsiaStreetWorking