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A dabbawala (one who carries the box, see Etymology), sometimes spelled dabbawalla or dabbawallah, is a person in the Indian city of Mumbai whose job is to carry and deliver freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. Tiffin is an old-fashioned English word for a light lunch, and sometimes for the box it is carried in. Dabbawalas are sometimes called tiffin-wallas.
In India, Grandma Cooks, They Deliver
By SARITHA RAI
MUMBAI, India - Gaurav Bamania, a hedge fund analyst who works in one of the many downtown office towers that now dominate the skyline of India's financial capital, could easily eat lunch at one of the city's better restaurants. Instead, Mr. Bamania, 26, follows a practice dating back over a century to the early years of British rule: he has a hot meal, lovingly cooked at home by his grandmother, and delivered to his desk every workday.
In India, where many traditions are being rapidly overturned as a result of globalization, the practice of eating a home-cooked meal for lunch lives on.
To achieve that in this sprawling urban amalgamation of an estimated 25 million people, where long commutes by train and bus are routine, Mumbai residents rely on an intricately organized, labor-intensive operation that puts some automated high-tech systems to shame. It manages to deliver tens of thousands of meals to workplaces all over the city with near-clockwork precision.
At the heart of this unusual network is a chain of delivery men called dabbawallas.