He is an almost insignificant yet indispensable part of your morning routine. His presence is very crucial for Mumbaikars or for that matter 74% of literate Indians. He comes in a hurry and leaves in a jiffy leaving behind something that we look forward to everyday in the morning. Whether it is the doorbell or a knock on the door or footsteps rushing from one house to another or one floor to another, he makes it on the mark every day without fail. For many city dwellers his arrival is a mental alarm to begin and align their chores for the day. Yet he happens to be an invisible element in your lives.

newspaper at doorIf at all he happens to be late or fails to come altogether due to ailment, then you become uneasy with this change in the expected routine. Suddenly, he becomes very important and the subject of vague questions like, “Why hasn’t he come yet? Was the door bell switched off in the night by mistake? Is it a public holiday? Is it a bandh today? Did you hear him come or see him in the compound?” Etc…. etc… Often the person who is bombarded with these questions is equally clueless.
Any guesses who is this invisible yet significant person and how is he connected to your lives?????????????

It is none other than the newspaper delivery boy or the paperwala in a layman lingo.
You cannot imagine starting your day without reading the news paper. It becomes a second nature to glance at the headlines and zero in on the stories you want to read once you are on the go. Then there are various platforms like train or bus stop group, breakfast and coffee discussions in the pantry where you can show off the knowledge about current affairs which you acquire from the newspapers. The topics could be on a serious note like ‘Our city is going to dogs, thanks to the corrupt government and babus’ or a topic on a lighter note like ‘The behind the scene pictures of Ranbir Kapoor and Comedy Nights gang in today’s paper are so funny that I cannot miss the upcoming episode’.
You are abreast with all the latest happenings without having to struggle much for it. You feel no less than the Einstein of the group when you are aware of something that others don’t. You speak confidently on the topic like a pro and others listen to you with undivided attention.

Your paperwala is the one who makes you look like a Hero!
Imagine having to fetch your paper in the morning rush hours. Most Mumbaikars would either not have time or won’t take the efforts to grab a newspaper by themselves every day. If due to some reason you can’t even browse through the headlines you begin to feel like having missed something very important. You feel left out just like a kid who doesn’t have the trendiest new compass box like his class mates.
There are many young boys who earn their livelihood through paper delivery. Some are students and some others go for a fulltime job later in the day to make ends meet.

The paperwala’s morning routine starts with fetching of papers from different publication houses from different ‘Depots’. Well they are not really physical depots as such but an area on the footpath outside a closed shop where the tempos of publishing house drop the paper bundles. i.e…. 1000 copies of The Times of India along with Bombay Times supplement will be dropped outside Infiniti Mall – Andheri Link Road, 700 copies Mumbai Mirror will be dropped outside Kailash Parbat Restaurant – Opp. Infiniti Mall – Andheri Link Road, 500 copies each of Navbharat Times and Maharashtra Times will be dropped outside the Red Box Cafe – Andheri Link Road. These spots in a particular area are referred to as depots from where individuals and newspaper agencies collect relevant quantities of different papers i.e… 200 TOI, 150 Mumbai Mirror, 100 Economic Times, 175 Hindustan Times, 125 DNA, 150 Maharashtra Times, 180 Gujarat Samachar, 120 Loksatta, 80 Navbharat Times, so on and so forth.

newspapersYour paperwala then meticulous arranges the English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and other language general interest and financial dailies in stacks of areas and then further division of housing complex / buildings and flats i.e… The Times of India (+Bombay Times), DNA and Gujarat Samachar in Flat No. 123, ABC Building No-2, XYZ Lane, Andheri (W) and similar or slightly different combination of papers for another flat in the same building.
The publishing houses work on a commission ranging between 75 to 90 paise per rupee. For example your paperwala may get one TOI (+BT) at 0.90 paise whereas the rate printed on the paper is Rs. 1/-, so your paperwala gets 0.10 paise per TOI (+BT). Sometimes these paperwalas make a few extra bucks through flier insertions.

While you sleep peacefully in your cosy beds, there is this boy waking up every day at 4 a.m. to deliver the paper at your doorstep before you open your eyes. Their system is as full proof and accurate as the one followed by the ISO certified Dabbawalas of Mumbai. Yet paperwalas are yet to receive their due credit and recognition. While Dabbawalas get a weekly off on Sunday, your paperwala never gets an off. He works hard all year along, whether it is summer, winter or torrential rains; he ensures that you get your daily dose of vitamin ‘K’nowledge.
Let us spare a thought for the paperwala who is insignificant for you but for whom you are indispensible. So in future sometime if you happen to wake up early and personally receive the paper from the paperwala, do smile at him and if possible say ‘Thank You’!

Neeta Chhatwani- By Neeta Chhatwani – Writer 
I am a passionate writer who loves to play with words. I want to weave everyone into the boundless world of my imagination and I have figured out that the best way to achieve this desire is by dressing up my thoughts into an intricate network of words. Besides writing, I love to enlighten myself with knowledge in any form, experiment with food (quiet literally) and look my best. I enjoy intelligent conversations about anything and everything under the sky. I stay miles away from fake and hollow people. Our very own Queen’s Necklace at Marine Drive is my favourite hangout spot to breathe-in every essence of this magical city… My City My Mumbai!