When he retires after his 200th Test match in Mumbai next month, legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar will get a salute from a familiar but an unexpected and equally legendary tribe - the Mumbai "dabbawalas" who make daily lunch-box deliveries. (Read: Meet the man who bowled the first ball to Sachin in first-class cricket)
"Around 50-100 'dabbawalas' will take a few days off from the tiffin delivery service to be present at Wankhede Stadium and give a salute to the legend who is retiring," said Subhash Talekar, spokesperson of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust (NMTBST).
He said that the dabbawalas have been serving Mumbai for the past 123 years, while Tendulkar has been serving and bringing laurels to the nation in the past nearly three decades.
"He is a symbol of Mumbai who has made all Indians proud. We feel it is our duty to be present on this historic occasion," Talekar told IANS, speaking for the dabbawalas, who are regarded the epitome of management perfection and strategies.
The dabbawalas will pay for their own daily or season tickets for the Test match scheduled Nov 14-18, which Tendulkar's mother will witness for the first time.
Talekar said that as an organisation, this will be the dabbawalas' maiden entry into a stadium for the historic match.
Besides holding a banner, Talekar said, the dabbawalas plan to gift Tendulkar their traditional "dabba" (lunchbox), which has earlier been gifted to celebrities from around the world, including Britain's Prince Charles.
Mumbai's nearly 5,000 "dabbawalas" have carved a global niche for themselves for their efficient to-and-fro delivery of nearly 200,000 lunch boxes around the city.
They have become the subject of international management and research studies, won accolades from around the world and are invited to top international business and celebrity events.
Research papers, books, articles, documentaries and films have been made on the life, times and work of the dabbawalas in the past few decades.