Mumbai’s popular dabbawalas had to cancel their efficient services today due to heavy rains and waterlogging in many places of the city. The dabbawalas who deliver tiffin to over two lakh office-goers have cancelled their service for September 20 as Mumbai suburban rail services have been disrupted over heavy rains. The men used to ensure that lunch boxes reach people on time and is known for their efficient servicing. The Mumbai Dabbawalas were affected by the rains August 30 and had to cancel their services due to similar issues.

The famous dabbawalas have been serving the country since 1890 and have rarely failed to deliver. However, Mumbai’s unexpected and increased rains have left the service at a standstill. Mumbai witnessed heavy rainfall on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, that led to flood situations in several suburban areas. According to weather reports, the city witnessed 298 mm of rainfall, highest in a day since August 1997. These heavy rains affected the city’s transport and train service as well, and the dabbawalas failed to retrieve the tiffin boxes.

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How do Mumbai’s Dabbawala function?

The dabbawalas in Mumbai collect the home-cooked food mainly made by wives and mothers and transport it to various parts of the city through the city’s train service. The dabbawala collects the tiffin at 10 am and transport it to the stations via bicycles. The strategically labelled and colour coded dabbas are delivered to various offices by lunchtime where more than 2 lakh employees enjoy home cooked food. This delivery process is reviewed in the evening as the dabbawalas collect the empty tiffins and deliver it back to the houses to begin the whole organised system again the next day. The rains affected this delivery system and resulted in the dabbawalas cancelling their services today.

When Do Dabbawalas take breaks

The Mumbai tiffin delivery system working tirelessly every day and their service flow and the system has inspired several researchers. While the dabbawalas have been functioning every single day for years, there are a few times when they take a break. The most recent leave that the dabbawalas took was during the Maratha Kranti Morcha on August 8, 2017. Several dabbawalas also joined the Morcha, and the tiffin services were halted for the day.

The Annual Dabbawalas Leave

The Mumbai dabbawalas mostly hail from Pune and other parts of Maharashtra and take an annual 7-day leave in the month of April. The dabbawalas take this pre-planned leave every year, and most of them spend the time visiting family temples and joining the annual pilgrimage to the Khandoba temple in Pandharpur. The annual Maharashtrian pilgrimage called Jatra plays a key role in the annual 7-day leave for the dabbawalas.

The dabbawalas error-free delivery system hardly ever fails the city. In fact, the first time the dabbawalas went to strike in 120 years was in 2011 when they joined anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. With the exception of this, the dabbawalas’ services have only been affected when the city’s railway system fails them, or there has been a calamity.