Chennai: Delivering hot lunches to office-goers at their workplaces for the past 20 years, braving the scorching heat or downpour is a group of ten women dabbawalas.
The group, led by G. Malliga, is the third generation of a family that had been distributing lunch boxes to office going men from their homes. Her father and grandfather were involved in the same business. Mostly catering to the Marwari population settled in Chennai, the group collects and delivers 150 lunch boxes per day in areas like Anna Nagar, Purasawalkam, Vepery, and Choolai.
These women collect boxes from the homes of office-going people and meet each other with the boxes at Vepery. From there, they leave for office locations like Mount Road and Parry’s Corner to distribute lunch boxes.
Getting freshly cooked homemade food delivered at offices by these Dabbawalas comes at a cost of Rs. 400 every month, which also includes the transportation cost. Most of the deliveries are done using two-wheelers and auto rickshaws.
“We collect the lunchboxes kept at the gate of homes and residential complexes and deliver it at the offices. We wait for one hour outside the offices, for them to finish their lunch. After collecting the lunch box, it is delivered back to the residence,” said Malliga.
She added that the family follows a golden rule that her grandfather often spoke about. “Come rain or storm or scorching heat, you must work hard and ensure that the food reaches the person it is intended for. He also said that the food must reach on time and the person must not go hungry,” she said.
While delivering food, Malliga added, she comes across a plethora of emotions, especially from the wives.
“Often when we deliver the empty lunch boxes back, the wives would be eager to know if their husbands liked the food,” she added smiling. “They maintain cordial relations with us, and are ready to help us in case any of us is going through any problems.”
The group is dedicated to working as dabbawalas despite not making much money out of it, but the family legacy of distributing lunch is what keeps them happy and going....