Episode 115: Dabbawalla

Each day in Mumbai 4000 men in white outfits and matching hats transport 175,000 lunches across the big city. They retrieve the tiffens (lunch containers) of food from mothers and wives, and bring them (by foot, train, bicycle and even carried on top of their heads) to the office buildings of waiting husbands and sons. The Dabbawallas have been doing this since the late 1800s. Despite the unsophisticated mode of transport, the lunches always arrive on time (the error rate is 1 in every 16 million transactions).  It’s a pretty impressive feat and we were lucky enough to follow a couple Dabbawallas for a day in Mumbai, and see their work first hand.  Special Thanks to Intrepid Travel.

16 responses to “Episode 115: Dabbawalla”

  1. droneboyz says:

    I have seen many videos of the Dabbawalas, but this one is somehow much better than most. It does not suck the soul away, as a lot of other productions do…Beautiful work!

  2. Cool. Their distribution technique seems similar to the way the post office does it.

  3. Robin says:

    So interesting. Love your videos & the music & the stories they tell.

  4. Roxy Lerner says:

    Do you guys need someone to carry your bags and kitchen utensils. I want to come on one of your trips, what a spectacular adventure!

  5. maryq says:

    nicely told! Great edits, music, cohesive storytelling, And looks yummy. Another coup!

  6. Daria says:

    I cannot understand something. Why can’t they just take lunch with them when they leave in the morning to work?

    • droneboyz says:

      Hmm, because they would not be fresh by lunchtime? This way, the food comes in steaming hot and fresh!

    • AlyxisPage says:

      Because in Mumbai, workers leaves very early in the morning and come home very late at night with an average traveling time each day of 3 hours in addition to the 8-10 hour work day. The crowd is also crazy; therefore, it is impossible for them to carry anything with them as they travel. They need free hands to shuffle themselves through massive crowd to catch trains, etc…

  7. Gefilta Fish says:

    Oohh! I want an oompa loompa and i also want a daabawaallwa!!

  8. janice says:

    what about working women….

  9. Mudra says:

    this one of the recognized six sigma standards…

  10. Ram says:

    hey very cool video! was just wondering how/where did U find the tamil song?? tamil friends?

  11. Archana says:

    As a mumbaiker (person from Mumbai) Im so impressed at your video about the dabbawallas. I must admit though, none of the dabbawallas would approve of the tamil song. It misrepresents them.

  12. murali says:

    the songs/music you pick are truly awesome 🙂

  13. DGS says:

    End translations are like off the track…

  14. […] latest episode The Perennial Plate documents a day in the life of the lunch delivery men of Mumbai. “Each day in Mumbai 4000 men in white outfits and matching hats transport 175,000 lunches acro… I first learned about dabbawallas while in Mumbai last summer. I was completely impressed with the […]

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