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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Knock, Knock. It's Indian Comfort Food.

The NYTimes has an article on Indian lunch served to offices in the bay area and around the world.The lunchtime scene of office delivered Indian food is being played out each weekday in the United States in metropolitan areas with large South Asian populations.They depend on delivery workers to bring them the home-cooked foods of their upbringing, often prepared by cooks working from home. Having such a lunch is a way of life in Mumbai, India, where dabbawallas or tiffin-wallas (men who carry tiffins, the containers that hold the food) use an elaborate, 120-year-old system to transport lunches to workers at mills, shops and offices. The Mumbai’s amazing dabbawlaah’s are well known around the world. Hold – there’s a small difference though - Remember - The dabbawallah originated when India was under British rule: many British people who came to the colony didn't like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, Indian businessmen are the main customers for the dabbawalas, and the service includes cooking as well as delivery. This is delivery of food cooked from respective home/ dabba’s and not just food bought for money alone ,distributed for eating. The BBC has made documentaries on Dabbawallah’s,top business schools have made it a case study. Anycase it is interesting to see new (lightweight) food chains emerging around the world. But it should be studied as to how long do these new US based chains continue to exist - from longeivity perpsective ( too often linked to owner interests/passion)- may be there is a case to instituitionalize such food chains across the world/continents. How about a membership that can be useful in any major metro in the world!! Personally speaking,for me - however it would be less appealing - I am not a home food carrier and thats right from the time when I was out of school!! Today, it is almost out of question, considering my busy schedule and working days that are literally packed with so many meetings at different places and my travel takes me to on average 2/3 cities a week. However, no doubt there is no real substitute for home food/regular food from trusted sources - there exists the business opportunity. Scale up opportunities - think aloud.

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