All across the world, our urban lives afford a rather predictable lunch time scene for most working adults: the "Quick-bucks" cafés, Timbuktu Bread Baskets, automobile picnics with drive through fare, zapped mini portions created in designated micro-sized spaces between Conference Room 204 and the broken printer, the lunches hastily assembled on the kitchen island, or a small portion of aroma-free left-overs.
Pre-packaged, predictable fare mass produced or independently assembled to serve a purpose. Yet, in our global and monotone lunchtime culture, we also share the longing for a home-cooked, personalized meal which was created especially for us. Not one that someone was required to assemble for you, but one that involved homely care, genuine affection and attention to detail; a lunch that is a delight to receive and pleasure to consume.
In one global city, many still manage to include home-cooked meals as part of their day. Mumbai, India, is a large metro of over 20 million. It is a population that thrives despite its overworked transit networks and horrendous commute times that average from 45 minutes to more than two hours each way, on public transportation. In Mumbai, home-cooked lunches, called ‘Tiffin’ are commonplace. From young children who eagerly await their home cooked tiffin delivered at the hands of a reliable carrier to school, to the office worker at their workplace, lunch time takes the form of daily teambuilding and social bonding across rank and file. The humble home-cooked meal is a unifier in every lunchroom and playground, a social equalizer of sorts.
How do they do it? This home-cooked tiffin is made possible through an intricate and elaborate network of human carriers called dabba-waala’s or roughly translated as, ‘one with a dabba or tiffin’; a system that has been studied, marveled and honored through media, research and celebrity endorsement. Harvard Business School estimates that this network sans computers, bar code readers or cell phones has an error rate of 1 in 6 million.
To date, this eco-friendly and budget friendly ‘Tiffin’ remains a household term. It is a reminder of someone’s care and concern. Its quaint charm keeps universal traditions alive: retaining a penchant for and keeping the appreciation of a home-cooked meal.
After a successful start to its soft expansion to the Greater Los Angeles region, with the Tiffin Culture series, Curry Cravings is pleased to return home in fall, with "Tiffin Culture: Roswell." These will be held at an undisclosed location and the location will be disclosed to registered participants only.
The calender for Tiffin Culture: Roswell begins in September, but you can sign up to be on the mailing list to be the first to know about upcoming dates.