Mumbai Dabbawala – Since 1890

3/5 - (2 votes)
Mumbai Dabbawala

If you visit Mumbai, you are bound to notice the dabbaba. You may not realize this, but the Mumbai Dabbawala is an essential part of the life of Mumbai.

Established in 1890 and Dressed in a traditional white outfit and wearing the traditional Gandhi Cap, the strong army of around 5,000 Dabbawalas deliver home-cooked food to Mumbaikar, delivered from home to the office every day.

They are the people who make sure that 2,00,000 people get their lunch on time at their offices or schools every day from home.

Their operations are so efficient that world personalities like Prince Charles and Richard Bradstone have visited them. They have been invited to lectures at business schools. They are even said to be six sigma compliant.

History of Dabbawallas

Around 125 years ago, a Parsi banker desired home-cooked food in the office. He gave this job to the 1st ever Dabbawala. This idea picked up, and the concept started becoming popular due to the visionary effort of Mahadeo Havaji Bachche, who saw this as an opportunity and started the lunch delivery service.

What is a Dabba?

A Dabba is simply a tiffin box carrying home-cooked food, which is to be delivered from the home to a person to his office or school. A dabbawala is a person who takes home-cooked food from your home to your office or school.

Mumbai Dabbawala

This may all sound simple, but imagine doing this in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The dabbas wallas have high accuracy rates, and their error rate is 1 in a million only.

Even more impressive is that all the dabbawallas are somewhat illiterate and use no technology. The only motorized transport used is the Mumbai local train. Other than this, they make use of hand-drawn carts or bicycles.

The dabbas or the lunch boxes have a color-coding scheme that ensures it reaches the right destination.

Lunch boxes are marked to make delivery Simple

  1. Short letters for collection points
  2. coloring code for the origin station
  3. The number for the destination station
  4. Unique Marks on Dabbas for dabbawala to determine the destination building and the floor

The structure of this organization is pretty flat. It has just three levels.

  • Firstly the governing body
  • Second-team lead, and
  • Third, the dabbawallas themselves

Everyone is an equal shareholder in the organization. There are no bosses, and the earnings are equally divided.

Everyone has to work for the team. If one person works less, the entire squad’s earnings are affected.

All the dabbas come from the same warkari sect; whenever replacement is required, the villages with this sect are approached for replacement.

To join this organization as a dabbawalla, the dabbawallas must bring a few things: a long wooden crate, two bicycles, and Rs. 20 for the Gandhi cap they wear. You can avail of this Dabba service for as low as around Rs.700 per month.

While the operations are relatively simple, the dabbawallas have started using newer technologies. You can SMS them or log on to their site

There is 5000 dabbawalla with 4,00,000 transactions per day with just local train and bicycle. Amazing.

Digital Dabbawala

Digital Dabbawala is an initiative to use technology, and doorstep service by trusted Dabbawalas, to provide a hassle-free experience with your rental agreement registration. They have made it extremely easy with low and transparent charges.

Digital Dabbawalas

How to contact for this service

  • PHONE +91 9870419916 and +91 7021425949
  • EMAIL: [email protected]
  • Address: 23, Navyog Mansion, Sleater Road, Naushir Bharucha Marg, Opposite Krishna Palace Hotel, Grant Road, Mumbai – 400007

Leave a Reply