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Queen Maxima of the Netherlands meets Mumbai’s dabbawalas

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Mumbai: Queen Maxima of the Netherlands today met Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas (tiffin-box carriers) and was apprised of how their impeccable delivery system, which has won global acclaim, works. Queen Maxima visited the Andheri railway station here this afternoon and interacted with dabbawalas, Mumbai Dabbawalas Association spokesperson Subhash Talekar said.

“The queen met the dabbawalas at their duty switch point near Andheri railway station. She was welcomed in the traditional Maharashtrian way,” he said. Queen Maxima, 47, arrived in India on Monday in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

“She met over 150 dabbawalas for around 30 minutes and got to know how we operate. We had planned to welcome her with dhol-taashe (drums) but her office advised her against it,” another Association functionary said. “She was given a replica of the large wooden crate we carry on our heads (tiffins are packed in this crate). It had miniature tiffins too,” he said.


“She was eager to know how our delivery process works. Our 5,000 dabbawalas deliver over two lakh lunch boxes all over Mumbai every day. She wanted to know what makes this system run smoothly without any glitches,” Association president Ulhas Muke said.

Association secretary Vitthal Sawant briefed the queen on how the dabbawalas negotiate overcrowded suburban trains and roads. Sawant also clicked a selfie with her. Earlier this month, the dabbawalas celebrated the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by distributing sweets to relatives of patients outside government hospitals.

The dabbawalas, whose representatives had attended Prince Charles’s second marriage some years ago, also sent a salwar kurta and a ‘pheta’ (turban) as wedding gift to Prince Harry and a `Paithani’ saree to his bride.