Mumbai dabbawalas join Anna, office-goers go without tiffin

Anna Hazare - Indian NewsStriking work for the first time in their 120-year-old history, Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas stepped forth to support Anna Hazare in his fight for a stronger Lokpal bill.

Nearly two lakh Mumbaikars depend on the dabbawalas for lunch. But Friday was a day for them either to eat at their office canteen, or order from or visit a neighbourhood restaurant — if they were not on a holiday due to Navroz, the Parsi New Year.

For finance professional Akshay Magji, it is a working day and eating food outside was an additional pressure.

“It has been an additional pressure on me. Yesterday (Thursday) already I faced strikes by buses and trains disrupting the local commute,” he said.

“Now with dabbawalas on strike, I was forced to eat outside in some restaurant. It consumed more than an hour of my time, plus I didn’t get to eat home-made food,” he added.

Agreed software professional Shrenik Mehta. “Is it not irritating enough that I have to work when most of my friends are enjoying the holiday?” he asked.

“With dabbawalas’ strike, I am deprived of home-made food. I know they have been meticulous in delivery of tiffins so far. I would request them to support Anna – but not at the cost of the common man,” he added.

But those on holiday were relaxed.

“Yesterday (Thursday) when I heard about the dabbawalas’ strike, I thought I would have to waste time and money to eat at a restaurant. But then I remembered it is a holiday and relaxed,” said Khantil Shah, a public relations professional who has been ordering tiffins the past three years.

Over 5,000 dabbawalas began a rally from Churchgate station to Azad Maidan in south Mumbai to support Hazare.

“We are breaking our 120-year-old tradition by not providing tiffins today (Friday). This is the least we can do to support Annaji who was jailed for three days and has been fasting since,” said Nutan Dabbalwala Trust secretary Kiran Gavande. (IANS)