I was visiting a renowned hospital in Delhi and patiently waiting in the queue for my turn, to get a new prescription for my glasses. As I looked around me, I saw this man, in an animated discussion with another man and a woman. He must have been in his mid 30s, was very smartly dressed in a Louis Philippe shirt, Blackberry trousers and shoes to match. Looking at him, I thought in my mind – A typical metro-sexual male!
A few minutes later, he approached me with hesitation, as I restlessly counted the minutes passing by. He had a few hospital forms in his hand, and asked me if I had a pen with me. While I might look like a guy who carries a pen around all the time, I did not have one with me at that time and politely told him so. He got the pen from another person passing by and came back to me. He wanted my help to fill up the hospital forms.
This seemingly odd request took me by surprise. Was he thinking that I am some kind of medical expert to be able to help him fill the forms? Or was it going to be a general query on who some particular information should be filled in the forms. My expression of surprise turned into one of shock when he handed me the pen and the forms and requested me to fill them for him.This man did not know English!
As I filled the forms, I started asking him more about himself. It turned out that he was a businessman, a cloth trader, based in M.P. He was here with his brother and sister-in-law to get some tests done as such facilities are not available in his home town. Interestingly enough, he was carrying a smartphone, but neither he, nor the other two members with him knew how to read or write in English.
I finished filling up the forms and he thanked me for all the help. As he walked away, I wondered if this is the real picture of the new, upwardly mobile India. The image is still etched in my mind!
PS: This is a call to all entrepreneurs who are trying to replicate US startups in India. Here is a real opportunity to build a real business that will be unique to India!