The Mumbai Dabbawala

January 10, 2015


The Mumbai Dabbawala

I'd rather play a board game with an impish five year old
Than go to Board Room Meetings and greet folks who trade in gold
A little kid won't mince her words and say what's on her mind
Unlike the men in tailored suits with whom I've wined and dined

They use their corporate jargon to launch their next campaign
With clichéd buzzword phrases their mantra they'll explain
They swirl around in swivel chairs and talk of strategies
Sophisticated gibberish - there 'lies' their expertise

While on their working lunches they try to sound profound
They throw in words like six-sigma while they muck around
They talk of multi-tasking and think outside the box
While climbing up the greasy pole their best friends they'll outfox

They leverage their assets and gobbledygook speak
Talk techno mumbo-jumbo to add to their mystique
They love to paradigm shift as well as circle back
Talk about downsizing but won't use words like sack

They spout some empty rhetoric deployed with Ninja skill
Like deluded Sancho Panzas they'll encounter their windmill
With pseudo words and acronyms and thoughtless vapid prose
They twist themselves in verbal knots with muddled metaphors

At times I feel these sycophants could learn a thing or two
From the humble dabbawala whom it's hard to live up to
Every day in Mumbai, 5000 men in white
Transport lunches all around and always get it right

Unlike the Saville Rowe clothed men who bootlick every boss
And praise the naked emperor adorned in velvet gloss
They don't guerrilla market, drill-down or blue sky think
Don't talk of bleeding edges, synergies or data link

In 16 mill transactions, their error rate is 1
I'd say that's quite impressive - a job for sure well done
200,000 lunches are transported each day
Stifling heat or drenching rain - they reach with no delay

They pick up meals from workers homes and colour code each box
A system that has worked without pretentious boardroom talks
On local trains or cycles or crates upon their head
This team of men deliver where elitists fear to tread

This semi-literate workforce is simple to the core
Work in a relay system while they move from door to door
Devoid of verbal flatulence and cryptic dialect
These 'salt of the earth' people have our well-deserved respect



Anita Britto Archives:

By Anita Britto, Auckland
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Comment on this article

  • anita britto, Mangalore/Auckland

    Mon, Jan 26 2015

    Thank you so much for your appreciative and encouraging comments.Made me very happy to read them.

  • Mumbai dabbawala, Elfreeda lobo

    Sat, Jan 17 2015

    Wah re way! My sweet bhaanji , you have done it again.Oh my goodness! From where to where! You started from Pope Francis , Mother Theresa, then on to Obama , Amithab,and many more , and now to the ordinary dabbawala.You have managed to touch so many hearts through your beautiful and meaningful poems written straight from your heart Anita girl. Rightly put , nobody gives a second thought to the ordinary dubbawala. But an extra ordinary girl like you has decided to write and make people aware of how important a dabbawala is to the common man , and how easily he is ignored and
    taken for granted.Yes, their disciplined, and organised method of delivering the dabba on the dot is truly commendable .
    Three cheers to the dabbawala and to our writer Anita Britto for this great work
    God bless you Anita my dearest bhaanji!

  • Dr.Anand Geeta pereira, sakleshpur

    Sat, Jan 17 2015

    Thank you Anita, for pragmatically bringing out the subtle difference in the functioning of the corporate world vs the humble Dabbawala who has a strategy in place and is more competent than any corporate. Every poem of yous has a fine message for readers of all ages.
    Thank you for doing so much for the benefit of others

  • Victor Machado, Kundapur/Canada

    Fri, Jan 16 2015

    The Mumbai Dabbawala 'came up' with the most error proof and advanced colour coding system for 'pick up and deliver' the lunch boxes to the respective individuals even much before IBM came up with a coding system for materials management (inventory), accounting, payment system etc. (Remember the ancient huge IBM machines and the punch code verifier/collator etc. system)out dated now. But the Mumbai Dabbawala's coding system is still alive and working well. And they don't have computer engineering degrees etc. Great article Madam Britto from Auckland, New Zealand

  • Rita, Germany

    Fri, Jan 16 2015

    Your Poem dedicated to Dabbawala is really fine.They will be very happy aboutit.One Thing is sure.They are doing their duty well in time and faithfully.Many People were fascinated from their work .Many earn their daily bread with it.and working People get home made Food when they work thanks to dabbawalas.Provide us further with more articles.

  • Terry, kalamazoo mi

    Wed, Jan 14 2015

    nicely written. If I were a dabbawala I would be smiling and thanking you. If I were a non-technical management type, I would want wine and dine you to keep you on my side. If I were your family, I would say you make us proud. Keep up the good work.

  • Vijay, MANGALORE

    Tue, Jan 13 2015

    Great Work Madam,
    Loved the Movie quiz one equally.
    Keep writing, We want more.

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore

    Tue, Jan 13 2015

    A Fantastic tribute to our great Mumbai Dabbawalas .
    Thanks Anita for yet another epic poem to your Gallery !

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Mon, Jan 12 2015

    The 'Mumbai Dabbawalas' indeed
    add a new dimension to the hustle and bustle of our great Metro City. Their efforts have been a case study for many of the Western Countries ! To encapsulate their efforts in a poem could only have been done by our great Anita Madam !Kudos!

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