Food for cause: No dabbas for Mumbai’s office-goers (Lead)

August 19th, 2011 - 8:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 19 (IANS) Striking work for the first time in their 120-year-old history, Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas Friday extended support to anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare in his fight for a stronger Lokpal bill.

“Dabbawalas joined in large numbers to lend their support to Annaji,” said Nutan Dabbawala Trust president Raghunath Medge.

“They all wore caps with Anna’s name on it and marched peacefully on the side of the road from Churchage station to Azad Maidan (in south Mumbai) without disrupting any traffic. This is Anna’s way of peaceful protest,” he added.

Nearly two lakh Mumbaikars depend on the dabbawalas for lunch. But this Friday, they either ate at their office canteen, or ordered from or visited a neighbourhood restaurant — if they were not on a holiday due to Navroz, the Parsi New Year.

Meanwhile, those who had a working day Friday complained of being deprived of home-made food.

For finance professional Akshay Magji, it was an “additional pressure” to eat from outside.

“It has been an additional pressure on me. Yesterday (Thursday) buses and trains disrupted the local commute. Now with dabbawalas on strike, I was forced to eat outside in some restaurant. It took over an hour, plus I didn’t get to eat home-made food,” he rued.

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 common man,” he added.

Raghunath Medge, however, said that they called for strike Friday keeping in mind that most offices will be closed owing to Navroz. “I agree that our valued customers were inconvenienced owing to the strike call, but I am sure it will be a small percentage,” he said.

Those like Khantil Shah, who had a 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 Shah, a public relations professional who has been ordering tiffins the past three years.

Nutan Dabbalwala Trust secretary Kiran Gavande said: “We are breaking our 120-year-old tradition by not providing tiffins today (Friday). This is the least we can do to support Annaji.”

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