We have known our dabbawalas for years as carriers of lunches to offices, with rarely a mix-up. Now, in a gradual expansion of their role, they are lugging a lot more than just that.
Over time, they have become delivery boys for all kind of things, besides the packed lunch. Sometimes, dabbawalas are even agents of blossoming love- with some people sending love notes, scented cards and a tiny something with lunch boxes.
“We often have requests from housewives to carry several things like cell phones, money or wallets,”said Kiran Gawande, Secretary of Nutun Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association.” We don’t encourage it as one dabba charges four to five hands, but we don’t even refuse a request because we realize that homes and office are really far away in most cases.”
They now also supply organic vegetables to several homes as their evening hours are relatively free. A service comes at an additional cost.
But the rest, love letters, tiny surprise gift, can be enjoyed free with lunch.