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Prince Charles Visits Dabbawalas

CHARLES-DABBAWALAS
Publication: Asia Africa Intelligence Wire
Publication Date: 04-NOV-03
COPYRIGHT 2003 Financial Times Ltd.
(From Press Trust of India)
When rustic 'dabbawalas' rubbed shoulders with royalty Mumbai, Nov 4 (PTI) It was a moment to be freezed on camera as the rustic tiffin service providers, popularly known as 'dabbawalas' in this western Indian city, rubbed shoulders with royalty, when the heir to the British throne Prince Charles walked into the Western Railway Headquarters here to interact with them on Tuesday.

The Prince, dressed in a blue suit, arrived at the lawn of the heritage building in south Mumbai, accompanied by a team of security personnel and a translator in tow.

The dabbawalas, all donning their trademark white 'pyjama-kurta' and Gandhi cap, neatly lined up in rows outside Churchgate station and welcomed the Prince with the traditional 'namaste', which was immediately reciprocated by Charles.

The city's famous 'dabbawalas' had their five minutes of fame as they explained their well worked colour coding system and the entire process involved in ensuring that the tiffins reached the right persons at the right place and right time.

The Prince of Wales was presented with a jasmine and rose garland, a brown and red bordered shawl and a silver plaque carrying the name of the tiffin providers' association.

But when the Prince was urged to don a Gandhi cap, presented by one of the dabbawalas, he politely but firmly refrained from acceding to the request, dissapointing many of the media personnel, waiting to capture the moment.

However, those who were not disappointed were the scores of people outside Churchgate station, who screamed out to the Prince and waved at him; urging him to shake hands with them, which the Prince agreed to. (THROUGH ASIA PULSE)

Britain's Prince Charles hails India ties, lauds youth enterprise support.
(From BBC Monitoring International Reports)
Mumbai [Bombay], 4 November: British Crown Prince Charles on Tuesday [4 November] had a glimpse of the myriad faces of bustling Mumbai as he dabbled in business, Bollywood, heritage, information technology and had a first hand view of the human face of the island city through the metropolis' famous tiffin service providers popularly known as dabbawallas.

Charles, who is on a three-day visit to the city, had a hectic schedule as he rubbed shoulders with a cross-section of people ranging from the rustic dabbawallas to IT wizards, suave captains of industry and leading celebrities from the world of glamour - all with equal elan and royal grace.

Despite a busy itinerary, the prince took time to pay visit to the over a century old Victoria Terminus, a prominent landmark of the commerical capital of the country.

The prince, who went around the heritage building had a glimpse of the octagonal dome, the grand staircase and the Star Chamber, the present suburban booking office.

He lauded the railways for transporting an incredible number of passengers day in day out.

The prince, who was taken around the suburban concourse, was also presented the official tie and scarf of Central Railways, a time-table, and a book of railway stamps. [passage omitted]

The prince also had a feel of the life on Mumbai roads as he stepped out of the royal car and met dabbawalas, the tiffin service providers, and gathered information on their indigeneous management system.

Dressed in a blue suit and sporting a red paper poppy, the royal visitor lauded the dabbawalas for their efficient delivery system.

He also received a shawl, a Gandhi cap and a small silver plaque from the city's over 100-year-old organization.

Prince Charles exhorted the Indian business community to take up issues of social responsibility along with "enterprise development" for youth.

"It was important for business groups to take up social responsibilities such as education and providing clean water, however, enabling sustainable livelihood for everybody is one of the pressing challenges before the country," he said at a business reception here.

On the Indo-British relationship, he said it was valued by both the countries and was flourishing on all fronts, including education, trade and defence.

On the Information Technology front, the Prince of Wales opined that IT would enhance relationship between India and UK even as he expressed interest in furthering ties with India's National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).

On his visit to India after 11 years, the Crown Prince said: "I have seen many facets of life and today got a chance to see the cosmopolitan life of Mumbai".

Source: PTI news agency, New Delhi, in English 1516 gmt 4 Nov 03
 
Dabbawalas to send a gift for Prince Charles.
(From The Times of India)
Byline: Nitasha Natu
MUMBAI: They had struck a chord with the Prince of Wales when he came visiting two years ago. Now, as Prince Charles readies to take wedding vows with his long-time lover Camilla Parker, the ubiquitous dabbawalas of Mumbai only want to send him their good wishes. A group of more than 500 dabbawalas from the city have decided to gift a nine-yard saree to the princess-consort and a Maharashtrian turban to the Prince on the threshold of their wedding.

"The gift is a mark of respect for the prince who took time off his busy schedule just to meet us and enquire about our business," said Raghunath Medge, president of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association. "We hit upon the idea after we heard about his wedding through the media. He had given us so much importance during his visit even when there were several others vying for his time and attention."

On Monday, about 50 dabbawalas from different associations in the city, shopped for a nine-yard Kolhapuri saree from Lateri centre at Andheri-east. "We are thinking of sending across green glass bangles, which are considered auspicious for married women, if our budget permits," Medge said. The gifts will be sent across by courier.

The contributions range from a modest Rs 10-Rs 20 per person, peaking the budget at a little over Rs 5,000. "It is not compulsary for everyone to contribute but we will collect as much funds as possible. The courier itself will cost us more than Rs 1,000," says Medge.

The Dabbawalas had their five-minutes of fame when the Prince visited them in November 2003, while touring Mumbai, and admired the clockwork precision with which they deliver tiffin boxes. The dabbawalas had explained their colour coding system and the entire process involved in ensuring that the tiffins reached the right persons at the right place and right time. The Prince was presented with a jasmine and rose garland, a brown and red bordered shawl and a silver plaque carrying the name of the tiffin providers' association.

Ask them if they would like to make a trip to England for the wedding and the dabbawalas shy away. "We certainly can't afford to do that. The gift represents our afection and good wishes for the prince and his bride," a dabbawala said.
 
Dabbawalas ship off Prince's wedding gifts
13 Mar 2005, 2340 hrs IST,TNN
MUMBAI: It was the first time that she was facing a television camera, but 53-year-old Ahilyabai Pingle showed no signs nervousness.

Even as her husband, a dabbawala with the Nutan Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, smiled shyly, Ahilyabai went on to explain the significance of gifting a traditional Maharashtrian wedding outfit to Prince Charles and his wife-to-be heavily accented Hindi.

On Sunday afternoon, the dabbawalas finally couriered their gifts to the Prince for his wedding scheduled in April, but only after performing a puja followed by some naachgaana at the Sanyas Ashram temple in Vile Parle.

"We weren't sure about what should be purchased for the Prince's wedding," said Raghunath Medge, president of the association, "What can you gift someone who has everything?" It was then that Ahilyabai and her sisters pitched in and suggested that a Maharashtrian bridal outfit would be the perfect gift. A green Nauvari silk sari for the bride and a Puneri pheta for the groom were agreed upon since these are considered auspicious.

The dabbawalas were then given a list of dos and don'ts for selecting the sari. "We couldn't accompany our husbands for selecting the gifts since we had to stay back and look after our homes and children, but we made sure that they chose the right sari," said Ahilyabai. The pheta was ordered especially from Budhwar Peth in Pune. A pair of comfortable Kolhapuri chappals completed the package.

The gifts were systematically arranged in a pandal outside the Sanyas Ashram temple where head priest Swami Kapil Puri conducted a puja before they could be ferried away.

"Number 13 may be considered unlucky in the West, but today (Sunday) happens to be the most auspicious day for sending across the gifts according to the Hindu panchang," the swami said. The puja was followed by a traditional lezim performance by the dabbawalas themselves to the tune of Marathi folk songs. The packages were then loaded onto a van provided by a courier company. They will be flown to England all expenses paid.

Asked if any of the dabbawalas would personally make it to the wedding, Medge confessed that three of them had already procured passports. "The Sanyas Ashram trust has temples in England and they provide lodging and boarding facilities for Indian travellers. We could actually stay at the temple and have our meals there, before proceeding to the wedding," he grinned.

All that the dabbawalas now need is an invitation to the Prince's wedding. Is Buckingham Palace listening?
 
Charles' big, fat wedding turban
23 Feb 2005, 0226 hrs IST,TNN

PUNE: Even as a debate rages in the UK over the forthcoming wedding of Prince Charles and his long-time friend Camilla Parker-Bowles, distant Maharashtra has not only come to terms with the alliance but has also prepared the aher (wedding gift) for the couple.

The famous dabbawalas of Mumbai, who were bowled over by Charles' charm during his recent visit to the metropolis, have decided to present a pheta (ceremonial turban) to Charles and a sari to his bride.

While deciding on a suitable sari was no problem, they did not know how they would be able to manage a pheta , since there would be no expert to tie it on the royal head. Pune's famous flag and pheta makers, Murudkar Zendewale, have solved this problem.

Speaking to TNN on Tuesday, Girish Murudkar, owner of the shop, said that it was actually his sister, now settled in Mumbai, who thought about asking her brothers to make the pheta . She contacted the, head of the dabbawalas organisation, who was overjoyed and accepted the offer.
"We have prepared a ready-to-wear traditional saffron pheta adorned with zari work and Australian diamonds for Charles. The work is finished and the pheta will be sent to Mumbai on Wednesday for its onward journey to the UK," Girish said.

It is definitely going to be a pheta that will befit the royal occasion. "We have vast experience of making phetas for royal Indian families," Girish pointed out. The Murudkars have vast experience in catering to the whims and tastes of royal and VVIP heads.

From President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to Bollywood stars, all have worn a Murudkar pheta . In fact during election time, the Murudkars have to keep a special team ready to hop from one election rally to another to tie the phetas around senior politicians' heads.
Dabbawalas to send a gift for Prince Charles
15 Feb 2005, 1322 hrs IST, Nitasha Natu,TNN
MUMBAI: They had struck a chord with the Prince of Wales when he came visiting two years ago. Now, as Prince Charles readies to take wedding vows with his long-time lover Camilla Parker, the ubiquitous dabbawalas of Mumbai only want to send him their good wishes. A group of more than 500 dabbawalas from the city have decided to gift a nine-yard saree to the princess-consort and a Maharashtrian turban to the Prince on the threshold of their wedding.

"The gift is a mark of respect for the prince who took time off his busy schedule just to meet us and enquire about our business," said Raghunath Medge, president of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association. "We hit upon the idea after we heard about his wedding through the media. He had given us so much importance during his visit even when there were several others vying for his time and attention."

On Monday, about 50 dabbawalas from different associations in the city, shopped for a nine-yard Kolhapuri saree from Lateri centre at Andheri-east. "We are thinking of sending across green glass bangles, which are considered auspicious for married women, if our budget permits," Medge said. The gifts will be sent across by courier.

The contributions range from a modest Rs 10-Rs 20 per person, peaking the budget at a little over Rs 5,000. "It is not compulsary for everyone to contribute but we will collect as much funds as possible. The courier itself will cost us more than Rs 1,000," says Medge.

The Dabbawalas had their five-minutes of fame when the Prince visited them in November 2003, while touring Mumbai, and admired the clockwork precision with which they deliver tiffin boxes. The dabbawalas had explained their colour coding system and the entire process involved in ensuring that the tiffins reached the right persons at the right place and right time. The Prince was presented with a jasmine and rose garland, a brown and red bordered shawl and a silver plaque carrying the name of the tiffin providers' association.

Ask them if they would like to make a trip to England for the wedding and the dabbawalas shy away. "We certainly can't afford to do that. The gift represents our afection and good wishes for the prince and his bride," a dabbawala said.
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