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Dubai student Roshan Prem with Dabbawalas in Mumbai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai kids generally wish to learn entrepreneurial skills from corporate giants. But, an Indian teen from here recently opted for Mumbai’s Dabbawalas whose 128-year-old network is dubbed the world’s best food delivery system sans hi-tech disruption. And he was completely bowled over by their service.

Roshan Prem, a year 13 student of Dubai English Speaking College, was looking at options to do internships to prepare himself for his future course in business administration.

He was inspired to visit the Dabbawalas [tiffin box delivery men] after his father Prem Ramachandran advised him to understand the nuances of an organisation that has been in existence since 1890. There are currently over 5,000 Dabbawalas who deliver over 200,000 home-cooked lunch boxes each day.

Roshan recently spent a day with the Dabbawala team — right from the time they picked up the lunch boxes from various houses, got it sorted using the alphanumerical code based on the location, helped them carry the lunch boxes and then was present at the final leg of delivery.

A presentation by the great grandson of Mahadeo Havaji Bachche, who started the lunch delivery service in its present team-delivery format with 100 Dabbawalas, also gave an overall idea of the growth of the much-acclaimed network.

Roshan joined them in sorting the tiffin boxes and shifting them to big trolleys to be taken to the railway station. At the station, the lunch boxes were transferred to wooden crates and taken to the railway platforms.

By the end of the day, what he learnt were timeless lessons in entrepreneurship, Roshan told Gulf News.

“I understood that the whole system was all about team work, trust, perseverance, communication skills and resilience. The passion and dedication of Dabbawalas, 80 per cent of whom are illiterates or less educated, is something that amazed me.

“I was excited to have explored the business model. Their work ethics and operational efficiency provided timeless lessons in entrepreneurship.”

The most astonishing part of the day, he said, was seeing a 75-year-old Dabbawala carrying tiffin craters weighing 15-20kg and climbing the stairs at the railway station.