Saturday Matinee: The Lunchbox

As I was writing yesterday’s post, I was reminded of a film I saw on DVD a few months ago.  The movie was called The Lunchbox and it told the story of an unhappy housewife, hoping to revive her marriage, and a widower nearing retirement, who form an unexpected connection when Mumbai’s lunchbox delivery service mistakenly starts delivering the lunches meant for her husband to the older man’s office, instead.

I thought of the movie because essentially the lunchbox delivery service–known as the Dabbawala–poses a massive logistics and operations problem, delivering 400,000 lunchboxes each day from homes to offices all across the massive and crowded city.  The Dabbawala service has been held up as an example by the Harvard Business Review as a model of service excellence and NBC News has described it as the envy of Federal Express.  In the movie, when the housewife, Ila, contacts the service to complain that her husband’s lunchbox is being delivered to the wrong person, the person with whom she speaks insists that she must be mistaken, that the service is highly efficient, and was even the subject of a case study at Harvard Business School.

Given the high accuracy and success of the Dabbawala system, such a mistake happening over and over again seems very unlikely, and yet it makes for a good story.   Ila is a very talented cook, and over the course of the story, the man, whose name is Saajan Fernandes, looks forward to the amazing meals he will find in the lunchbox.  The two begin exchanging letters where they talk about their lives.

As they form an unlikely connection, Ila muses about the happenstance that has led them to communicate with each other in this way: “Sometimes the wrong train will get you to the right station” (a bit of folk wisdom which is repeated by Fernandes’ young colleague later in the film).

At another point, Saajan Fernandes makes an even more poignant observation when he notes that “I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to.”

And that brings me to my questions of the day.  Have you ever found that the “wrong train” got you to the right destination?  Maybe you were doing something wrong for a long time and despite that you found what you were looking for?  We talk often about learning from mistakes, but I wonder what we learn when we don’t realize we are making a mistake and yet we still, somehow, manage to find the right answers?

Or, on the other hand, are there things you have learned that you worry about forgetting if you have no one to tell them to?


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