The Dabbawallah - Bombay's Unique Lunch Delivery
In every shipment we put together we try to include a few items that aren't typically found in Vancouver - a 'Kaarigar Experiment' if you like. More than uniqueness - what we look for is an item with an engaging story that our clients can connect with. On this occasion it's the turn of the humble tiffin. A tiffin, or dabba (DUH-bah), is a simple lunchbox made up of stackable stainless steel compartments. While they're common throughout India, Bombay is where the tiffin has truly left it's mark. In Bombay, a hot meal for your office or school lunch is not seen as a luxury but a necessity. Moreover, Indians are notoriously picky when it comes to food (just ask). Home cooking is king here. This is where the tiffin comes into play. Every weekday morning in Bombay, a delivery system unlike any other on the planet swings into action. The system's goal: pick-up, deliver and then return each lunchbox on-time - a monumental task given the traffic, weather and number of tiffins. The people that take on this challenge are known as dabbawallahs - literally: box-carriers. They make their rounds of Bombay's neighbourhoods after the morning commute, collecting freshly prepared tiffins. Through a combination of bicycles, railway trains, a simple coding system and a handful of sorting checkpoints, the dabbawallahs are able to deliver a hot home-cooked lunch to schools and workplaces across the city. After lunch, the process is reversed and the empty lunchbox is returned home. The most remarkable aspect of the dabbawallah system is its unprecedented success rate - a recent study found that a tiffin is late or goes missing roughly once in every seven-million deliveries. This success rate is even more impressive considering that the dabbawallahs have a low level of literacy and that Bombay has a high level of road congestion. More recently, the system has gained recognition from the international business community and fame from Bollywood (see the movie 'Lunchbox'). Come by and pick out your own piece of this story.