Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas, who operate a globally renowned lunchbox delivery and return system that supplies hot lunches from homes and restaurants to people at work, are mourning the demise of the queen, who marked 70 years on the throne this year, and was the oldest and longest-reigning monarch in British history.
Raghunath Medge, an office bearer of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, told PTI that he spoke to the Queen and had breakfast with her twice when he and Sopan Mare, another dabbawala from Mumbai, were special guests at the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in April 2005.
Medge said they undertook an eight-day visit to London for the royal wedding.
We had breakfast twice with Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family. She was very humble, he said.
Although there was this language barrier, Padmini Devi, who hails from a royal family in Rajasthan, and was also an invitee for the wedding, helped in translation during our conversation with the queen, he said.
Our first breakfast with the Queen was at Birmingham Palace, while the second breakfast was at Windsor Castle, which was the venue for the royal wedding, Medge said.
Medge said that during their brief interaction, the Queen was curious to know about their tiffin service and asked them how they operate it.
She asked us how many people work as dabbawalas and how many of our generations were in the tiffin service business. She wanted to know how educated the dabbawalas were and for how long we had been working. We told her that we have been delivering tiffins from the time the British ruled India, Medge said.
Dabbawalas were unknown to the world but became famous due to Queen Elizabeth and the royal family, Medge said.
Medge said Queen Elizabeth had also enquired about them when Mumbai was attacked by Pakistani terrorists in November 2008.
The Queen who was monarch and supreme governor of the Church of England – died Thursday at 96 after 70 years on the throne.