Unseen Passage: Dabbawala

Reading Comprehension

A dabbawala is a person in Mumbai, whose job is carrying and delivering freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. They are formally known as MTBSA (Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association), but most people refer to them as the dabbawalas. The dabbawalas originated when India was under the British rule. Since many British people who came to India did not like the local food, a service was set up to bring lunch to their offices straight from their homes.

Today, businessmen in modern Mumbai use this service and have become the main customers of the dabbawalas. By delivering to each employee his tiffin or lunch, the dabbawalas solve the problem for an estimated 200,000 people. They charge between 150 to 300 per dabba per month, depending on the location and collection time.

They are an incredible team. They have a record of no strikes against management. They are always on time, even through the rainiest days on the planet. Their creativity and ingenuity have kept them alive. When telephones services were at a premium in India, the dabbawalas encouraged housewives to use their system to communicate with their spouses by placing little chits inside their boxes. The husbands enjoyed the chits as much as the food. Thus, the dabbawalas were able to “think outside the box” and broaden their capabilities given in a very limited infrastructure. Dabbawalas have also embraced technology. On March 25, 2006, the dabbawalas went online with www.mydabbawala.com. The dabbawalas have become icons of hard work and dedication. In fact, the 5,000 strong workforce (there are a handful of women) is so well known that Prince Charles paid them a visit during his recent trip to India. Several academic institutions regularly invite the dabbawala’s representatives for discussion, and to complement and enhance their academic content.

Q. Answer the following questions:

  1. Dabbawala’s job is _________ and __________ freshly-made food from home to office workers.
  2. The employees of MTBSA are known as ___________.
  3. The dabbawalas started their services during ____________.
  4. Providing services to as many as _________ people, dabbawalas are considered to be most _________ even through the rainiest days on the planet.


  1. carrying and delivering
  2. dabbawallas
  3. the British rule
  4. two lakhs; punctual

Q. Choose the correct alternatives:

  1. They have a record of no strikes against
    1. businessmen
    2. customers
    3. management
    4. academic institutions
  2. Dabbawalas are appreciated for their ________ thinking.
    1. incredible
    2. out of the box
    3. limited
    4. creative
  3. The working of dabbawalas is a __________ in management and organization.
    1. limited
    2. dedication
    3. lesson
    4. None of the above
  4. The dabbawalas have become icons of ____________ .
    1. hardwork
    2. dedication
    3. Both (1) and (2)
    4. None of the above


  1. management
  2. out of the box
  3. lesson
  4. Both (1) and (2)

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