Last week, a friend at work got some choris pulav for lunch. Her parents had picked up these pork sausages during their last visit to Goa. She could definitely not sit with me for lunch and not offer any. But I rightfully exchanged my lunch (which comprised of vegetable and chapattis) with her choris pulav without allowing her to have her own lunch.
Okay, that did not happen. I made that bit up. We shared our food like we always do. This appetizing food reminded me of my days back home and how often I used to feast upon such delicacies. After a good five years in Mumbai, my palate has settled for every recipe, and most of it being vegetarian food. I’m comfortable eating veggies on a regular basis. Wait; make that every day except the weekend. Saturday-Sunday is strictly non-vegetarian. It’s been months since I’ve gobbled up some homemade food. When I say homemade, I am referring to the food that’s cooked by my mother or sister. And I’m sure all of us staying away from home miss this, the most – home food. Now the question is, isn’t there a better alternative for us? The answer is yes, but at exorbitant prices! So, is there a solution? Indeed.
And this solution works best among us youngsters who lack interest in preparing their own food, run out of time to cook or tend to overcome or are overcome by sheer laziness. At such times, dabbawallas come to our rescue. Like time and tide, Mumbai’s dabbawallas wait for no one. There are over 5000 food service deliveries in Mumbai and they have now become a part of this city’s culture. I get my dabba (tiffin) every evening. I must admit, this dabbawalla has never let me or any of my friends down. Every day, there is something new packed and sent. It’s not just when I am at home. Such services extend to offices as well. Surprisingly, the food that is sent to us is nothing less than homemade food. Technically, it does come from someone’s home and all the food is cooked to perfection. There are times when some dishes are not up to the mark, but how much can you expect for Rs 50? So we keep reminding ourselves that beggars can’t be choosers.
Till date, my roomies and I have changed at least three dabbawallas. When the first fell ill, we stumbled upon the second one. And then the second one thought of going on a long holiday and we finally settled on the third and final one. Now, all we hope is that he doesn’t go on a holiday too. I know, I sound like a hungry task master who just doesn’t want her dabbawalla to enjoy a holiday. Kidding, of course! So, every day we get to savour tasty food. It’s flavourful and carries aroma in the air. It seems these dabbawallas follow one mantra — Work is worship, and customer is God. Come what may, we are never left starving.
Image courtesy: http://www.thegoan.net
Please note: This column was first featured in The Goan.