For the second time in six years, Mumbai's much-adored andglobally-famed dabbawalas, or tiffin-box carriers, have been immortalised in aspecial comic book simply titled "Dabbawala", brought out byrestaurant chain SodaBottleOpenerWala.
The comic book, penned and illustrated by artist AbhijeetKini, was released at a function held at the SodaBottleOpenerWala's outlet inPalladium, Lower Parel, on Friday night.
A large number of dabbawalas, who graced the event, weretreated to a sumptuous vegetarian feast designed by singer-actress-turned-celebchef Anaida Parvaneh, who is also a partner with the famed eatery chain.
The brainchild behind the comic book, Anaida confessed thatshe has been a fan of Mumbai's dabbawalas for over a decade and wanted to dosomething worthy for them.
"I wanted to honour them and finally the opportunityarrived. To us at SodaBottleOpenerWala, dabbawalas represent the true spirit ofMumbai at its best and are the heroes for all the right reasons," gushedAnaida at the launch of the comic book.
The President of the Mumbai Dabbawalas Association, Ullas S.Muke, said he was pleased that people were recognising the work andcontribution of his fraternity.
"This will encourage us to keep working in a systematicmanner in the future," said Muke, who heads the 5000-strong army ofdabbawalas ferrying around 200,000 tiffin boxes to hungry office-goers daily.
In sync with the dabbawalas' sentiments, Anaida's menu forthe evening comprised an all-vegetarian spread including mouth-watering"tawa paneer masala" dabba, vegetable berry pulao dabba, vegetable"dhansak" dabba and a Parsi curry dabba.
Instead of traditional serving bowls, the food was served tothe guests on their tables in tiffin boxes.
The launch coincided with an art exhibition on Mumbai byartist Valay Shende, in which one of the exhibits was a sculpture of adabbawala, which symbolised the true spirit of the country's commercial capitaland the backbone of its food delivery system.
The event was part of SodaBottleOpenerWala's popularBombay-Irani Cafe and Bar chain of restaurants that regularly highlight variouselements of Mumbai via unique presentations.
Incidentally, this is the second time the dabbawalas featurein a comic book format, the previous being the limited edition English-Marathiversion "Tina & Tiffin" (2013).
Authored by Pawan Agrawal, who has done a doctoral thesis onMumbai's dabbawalas, the comic book was distributed free to children in civicschools to serve as an early bird management lesson. It was later turned into adocumentary.
"We were hit by resource crunch so we couldn't take itahead in a big way, but students took to it in a big way," Agrawal toldIANS.
The newly-launched "Dabbawala" (Rs 100) portraysthe tribe of tiffin carriers as veritable superheros of Mumbai as explained bya father to his young son, and ends with the kid taking a selfie with hisfavourite dabbawala.
The proceeds from the book sales will go to variousdabbawala community initiatives, said a spokesperson for SodaBottleOpenerWala.