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October 25, 2005

Dabbawallas, The

Two church fair visits this last weekend have left me with an intense craving for food prepared with grandmotherly care. Especially, say, a south asian grannie. Paul Goodman's documentary about dabbawallas shows how people of limited means can manage the complex logistical problem of making certain no home cooked meal fails to find its proper object of affection. Or rather, how networks are capable of so doing. Dabbawallas are "box people" so named for the containers (called "dabbas" or "tiffins") holding the home cooking of the grandmothers of nothern Mumbai, formerly known as Bombey. The dabbawallas are a legion of delivery men who make certain each box makes its way by train to the specific city centre offices of each family member waiting for lunch.

More than 100,000-170,000 lunches get moved every day by an estimated 4,000-5,000 dabbawalas, all with an extremely small nominal fee and with utmost punctuality. According to a recent survey, there is only one mistake in every 6,000 deliveries. In fact, the American business magazine ForbesAlternate meaning: For the Boston Brahmin family associated with John Forbes Kerry, see Forbes family. Forbes magazine is an American business and financial magazine founded in 1917 by B. After his death in 1954 and his son Bruce's death in 1964, it was l gave a Six SigmaSix Sigma is a quality management program to achieve "six sigma" levels of quality. It was pioneered by Motorola in the mid- 1980s and has spread to many other manufacturing companies. It continues to spread to service companies as well. In 2000, Fort Way performance rating for the precision of dabbawalas. This rating indicates a 99.999999 accuracy percentage of correctness, meaning one error in every six million transactions—an astonishing (and perhaps unbelievable) degree of exactness.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at October 25, 2005 08:43 AM

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