Why India Works

#1 Sep 9th, 2011, 15:01
Join Date:
Sep 2005
  • vandy is offline
A good read !!!

*Why **India** Works -
written by internationally acclaimed film director Shekhar Kapoor.***

A greater ‘hole in the wall’ you cannot imagine. A small fading sign on the top saying “Cellphoon reapars” barely visible through the street vendors crowding the Juhu Market in Mumbai. On my way to buy a new Blackberry, my innate sense of adventure made me stop my car and investigate. A shop not more than 6 feet by 6 feet. Grimy and uncleaned.
‘Can you fix a Blackberry ?”
‘Of course, show me”
”How old are you” ‘Sixteen’
Bullshit. He was no more than 10.
Not handing my precious blackberry to a 10 year old in unwashed and torn T-shirt and pyjamas! At least if I buy a new one, they would extract the data for me. Something I have been meaning to do for a year now.
‘What’s wrong with it?”
‘Well, the roller track ball does not respond. It’s kind of stuck and I cannot operate it”
He grabs it from my hand and looks at it
“You should wash your hands.
Many customers have same problem.
Roller ball get greasy and dirty, then no working’
Look who was telling me to wash my hands. He probably has not bathed for 10days, I leaned out to snatch my useless blackberry back..
” You come back in one hour and I fix it’.
I am not leaving all my precious data in this unwashed kid’s hands for an hour. No way.
“Who will fix it?”
‘Big brother’
‘How big is ‘big brother?’
‘big …. Umm ..thirty’
Then suddenly big brother walks in. 30 ??? He is no more than 19.
‘What problem?’ He says grabbing the phone from my greasy hand into his greasier hand. Obviously not trained in etiquette by an upmarket retail store manager.
‘Normal blackberry problem. I replace with original part now. You must wash your hand before you use this’. What is this about me washing my hands suddenly??
19 year old big brother rummages through a dubious drawer full of junk and fishes out a spare roller ball packed in cheap cellophane wrapper.
Originalpart? I doubt it. But by now I am in the lap of the real India and there is no escape as he fishes out a couple of screwdrivers and sets about opening my Blackberry.
“How long will this take?”
”Six minutes”
This I have to see. After spending the whole morning trying to find a Blackberry service centre and getting vague answers about sending the phone in for an assessment that might take a week, I settle down next to his
grubby cramped work space. At least I am going to be able to watch all my stored data vanish into virtual space. People crowd around to see what’s happening. I am not breathing easy anyway. I tell myself this is an
adventure and literallyhave to stop myself grabbing my precious Blackberry back and making a quickescape. But in exactly six minutes this kid handed my Blackberry back. He had changed the part and cleaned and serviced the whole phone. Taken it apart, and put it together. As I turned the phone on there was a horrific 2 minutes where the phone would not come on. I looked at him with such hostility that he stepped back.
‘you have more than thousand phone numbers ?”
‘backed up?’
‘Must back up. I do it for you. Never open phone before backing up’
‘You tell me that now?’
But then the phone came on and my data was still there. Everyone watching laughed and clapped. This was becoming a show. A six minute show. I asked him how much.
‘500 rupees’ He ventured uncertainly. People around watched in glee expecting a negotiation.
That’s $10 dollars as against the Rs 30,000 ($ 600) I was about to spend on new Blackberry or a couple of weeks without my phone. I looked suitably shocked at his ‘high price’ but calmly paid him. Much to the disappointment of the expectant crowd
‘do you have an I-Phone ? Even the new ‘4D one ?
‘no, why”
‘I break the code for you and load any ‘app’ or film you want. I give you 10 film on your memory stick on this one, and change every week for small fee’
I went home having discovered the true entrepreneurship that lies at what we call the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. Some may call it piracy, which of course it is, but what can you say about two uneducated and untrained brothers aged 10 and 19 that set up a ‘hole in the wall’ shop and can fix any technology that the greatest technologists in the world can throw at them. I smiled at the future of our country. If only we could learn to harness this potential.
‘Please wash your hands before use’ were his last words to me. Now I am feeling seriously unclean.

#2 Sep 9th, 2011, 15:30
Join Date:
Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
I wouldn't let a kid near my PC, even if they showed me a certificate. On the other hand, if people ask me about phones (knowledge of computers means one is supposed to understand phones? I don't!) I always say, ask the nearest teenager! But I would back up my phone data, even if I was taking it to an official Nokia Service Centre.

I used to go to a stall in East Ham (London). They had a list of charges prominently displayed, which went something like:

... free.

If you want to watch: £5.
If you want us to explain: £20.
If you want to argue: £50.

I was seriously tempted to put up a similar sign over my desk at work

I'm sure you got ripped off, probably by a few hundred Rs --- but you got the job done, and done well, and an official outlet might even have charged more!

Nice story
#3 Sep 9th, 2011, 17:10
Join Date:
Aug 2010
United States
  • DaisyL is offline
What a great story! That two minutes must have felt like an eternity for the phone owner and for the phone fixer. So glad it all turned well. Now, I must go wash my hands before I use my keyboard any more.
#4 Sep 9th, 2011, 17:16
Join Date:
Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
All in a days work for the fixer. I am impressed that the six minutes actually was six minutes, though. Our laptop is at the repairers. They always promise a diagnosis/quote in 24 hours: it's been a week.
Now, I must go wash my hands before I use my keyboard...
More germs on a keyboard than on a public toilet seat!
#5 Sep 9th, 2011, 18:44
Join Date:
Sep 2005
Abode of Glooscap
  • PeakXV is offline
LOL. 100% truth is never at a premium in or around an Indian shop/service. I mean why let the real factoids get in the way of securing that contract/deal?

Turn-around time, experience, price (especially if not negotiated up front) & authenticity of replacement parts are all on a sliding & movable scale based on your physical appearance, desperation & the intensity/concern of your initial screening questions (or lack there of).

Same same throughout the world really ..... but the deregulation thing in India makes it just that much more of a daily 'game'.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~
T. S. Eliot

#6 Sep 17th, 2011, 13:21
Join Date:
May 2009
  • thejag is offline

Thumbs up

Wowie... i paid the same amount in an authorized service center to get the exact same part replaced on my lowly blackberry wannabe Micromax Q5.

And i was feeling ripped off, even though i get a bill for it.

this supposed potential would not turn kinetic very well if some one tried to harness it. A blackberry owner may get ripped off for the trackball but its these hole in the wall shops that enable the hundreds of millions that cant afford the prices in a showroom to use technology.

PS: 700 million and counting was the no of cell phone subscribers in india the last time i noticed a statistic.
Last edited by thejag; Sep 17th, 2011 at 13:26.. Reason: PS:
#7 Sep 17th, 2011, 19:40
Join Date:
Jan 2010
  • JOHNLORD is offline
My father in law teaches/used to teach basic science part time to a group of very very poor children, most of whom were not interested in learning.

Skip forward five years, now of his students has set up a business selling and repairing computers, has a staff of twenty, and recently opened a branch office in Dubai.

The funny thing is this "student" is still very friendly and has no airs and graces despite doing so well.

It just goes to show that some people are basically nice.
Lord, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off.
#8 Sep 18th, 2011, 09:23
Join Date:
Aug 2011
Texas, USA
  • Big Texan is offline
One of my most memorable experiences allowed me to witness "India Working" first hand ...

It was almost dark in Varanasi; the evening air filled with a mixture of fog, dust, and smoke. I was headed to the Ganga with a small group of students. We drove our bus to a parking area several miles from the ghats and then boarded cycle rickshaws to make our way closer to the river before we would begin walking. The streets were crushingly crowded - people doing their evening shopping, eating, rushing here and there. It was wall-to-wall cars and rickshaws and cows and people and motorcycles - literally a river of humanity. My rickshaw was at the rear of our group so that I could keep an eye (or so I intended) on the rickshaws carrying my students ahead of me.

A young fellow not more than 15 years old and thin as a rail undertook the job of peddling me (BIG Texan) through the crowd. Almost immediately, it became obvious that something was seriously wrong with his bicycle. It was making a strange metallic, scraping and slipping sound. My "driver" kept looking back and down at the gears. Every few minutes, he would hop off his seat and study the workings of the bicycle. Needless to say, my students were long gone and out of sight.

I suggested several times that perhaps I should hire a different rickshaw? However, the young guy was not about to let this "rich" American slip out of his grasp, so we kept struggling along. Finally, he stopped in the middle of the streaming traffic and told me to wait ... "need part". As he started to walk away, he looked over his shoulder, leaned in close to me, and whispered ... "Be very careful ... Many Musselmen here!" Leaving Yankee-Doodle me sitting in the rickshaw towering over the crowd, he hurried to a tiny wooden stall on the roadside filled with plastic jars containing screws, bolts, and nuts and began discussing our plight with the shopkeeper. He and the shopkeeper would shoulder their way through the crowd to the rickshaw, try a bolt, discuss the finer points of the mechanical problem, struggle back to the closet-like shop, search for another bolt, push back to the rickshaw, repeat, and repeat. Each time, the young rickshawalla whispered his ominous warning ... "Many Musselmen here"!

So, here I am ... All 6'4" of me ... Sitting in a broken down rickshaw in the near dark in a crush of "Musslemen" ... While a child attempts to find a screw to patch his bicycle together. All I could do was laugh .. Drawing more attention to my fool self. At long last, my young driver found the bolt that would do the job!

Now you're probably thinking that at this point we were off and running again aren't you? Oh no ... Now the boy and the "screw-walla" began bargaining over the price of the bolt. After 10 minutes of intensely expert haggling, they agreed on the grand sum of 3 Rs - then looked up at me to pay it!

My young students waited 45 minutes for me to reappear - riding high in my newly repaired rickshaw. Their eyes were as big as saucers as I rounded the bend and all of us left Varanasi with great tales of India Working!
"I am in love with India...where I find the heat and smells and oils and spices, and puffs of temple incense, and sweat and darkness, and dirt and lust and cruelty, and above all, things wonderful and fascinating innumerable." Kipling 1893
#9 Sep 18th, 2011, 11:11
Join Date:
Mar 2009
  • prince09 is offline
I went home having discovered the true entrepreneurship that lies at what we call the ‘bottom of the pyramid’.
This is exactly my feeling & experience about 3 years ago when my brand new and expensive Nokia phone fell in the raging Ganges river at Rishikesh. I took it to the local nokia service centre and after examining it for 30 minutes, they wanted 2days time and 6000 rupees to fix it but there was no guarantee whether it'll work or not. I took back the phone and showed it to a friend in my hometown. The next day, he took me to a local 'unorganized' mobile phone market where they buy ,sell and repair mobile phones. After walking through the market for about 20 minutes, we reached a small kiosk with dim lighting and full of used phones, nuts & bolts of mobile phones.The guy examined phone for 10 minutes and advised, "I can't give you the original equipment but i can make the phone work and hopefully, you'll have all your data & contacts intact". I asked "how much?", he said "700 rupees"

After thinking for 5 minutes, i decided to take a chance. The guy opened up the phone, switched on the light bulb and worked on it for the next 20 minutes. The phone screen lit up the first time he switched it on and then went off. This continued for the next 5 minutes. He opened the phone again, did something, switched it on and handed it over to me. All the contacts and data were intact. My friend examined it, switched it on and off several times and it was working fine. I used the phone for next 2 years without any troubles.

So...India does work..in its own unique ways!
#10 Sep 18th, 2011, 12:31
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Land that shakes and bakes.
  • edwardseco is offline
That reminds me, I need to get my boy to fix my phone.

The one repair job aside from luggage that I had done in India was on my camera. I could see from his face that the repairman was overcharging me. Still, I thought about the minimum examination fee in the US of 80 USD just to start the process and that this man was asking 30 Rupees..
#11 Jul 26th, 2013, 11:03
Join Date:
Jan 2008
  • brishti is offline

Wink Fish Tales

A notice on the wall of a restaurant [Kolkata] - comparing the size of the fish fry - with Indian currency.

Name:  fish fry.jpg
Views: 752
Size:  33.2 KB
photograph: samit roychowdhury

havent a clue what the BJD is, though.

#12 Aug 10th, 2013, 11:22
Join Date:
Jan 2008
  • brishti is offline
Am sure there've been threads on this - but heck, it's worth a re-run!


Name:  jugaad.jpg
Views: 930
Size:  52.6 KB

Jugaad is a vehicle assembled by carpenters and low skilled people much like what the Flintstones did for their cars.
The basic form of the vehicle is a cart fitted out with a diesel pump used as an engine.
A big rod with a wheel at the end serves as the steering column.
There are no gears and a basic break mechanism stops the wheel when needed. The brakes fail more than they work requiring its passengers to jump off the moving vehicle to place stones or blocks in front of the wheels.

This is not to claim or argue that jugaad is all good quality,
but also to emphasise in the same breath that something is not poor just because it is jugaad.

Name:  jugaad-innovation.jpg
Views: 1121
Size:  71.4 KB

Jugaad a Hindi word that roughly translates as ‘an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness’.

Six principles of Jugaad Innovation:
Seek opportunity in adversity
Do more with less
Think and act flexibly
Keep it simple
Include the margin
Follow your heart

safety ?? what safety ?? have never been on one - but definitely will when i get a chance
#13 Aug 27th, 2013, 18:30
Join Date:
Jan 2008
  • brishti is offline
Disappearing Trades that Made India Work

Name:  3.jpg
Views: 581
Size:  30.1 KB

The Street Typist
[he'd type letters / documents / resumes - just about anything]

Name:  8.jpg
Views: 600
Size:  51.7 KB

The food supplier, cook & caterer [generally at weddings]

Portraits of India’s Obsolete Professions
Not obsolete - but getting there.

#14 Aug 27th, 2013, 18:40
Join Date:
Jun 2010
Hyderabad, india
  • narendra.d is offline
The typist is replaced by a "DTP operator" working on a computer and the cook is now replaced by (or morphed into if smart) a caterer.
#15 Aug 27th, 2013, 20:18
Join Date:
Sep 2008
42°21'N, 71°03'W
  • RWeHavingFunYet is offline
Nice photos but the photographer, Supranav Das, is trying to replicate other people's work for his project. This fellow has not done much research since he moved from Calcutta to NY.

Most of those so called 'obsolete professions' still exist and some of them have grown exponentially or more:

Every house or flat has welded iron windows and balconies to keep robbers and monkeys out. Sugarcane juicers are everywhere all over.

Food caterers have increased tremendously, since people have more disposable income. Bands do exist since people haven't stopped getting married. People still use brooms and flower vendors are everywhere. Look in markets and temples.

Similar Threads

Title, Username, & Date Last Post Replies Views Forum
Negotiations in the works Dec 19th, 2009 02:19 17 2716 Hyderabad
LG TV remote works only sometimes Aug 13th, 2007 15:14 15 4179 Electronics in India
Just Checking on What Works Jan 12th, 2006 01:24 6 1837 Packing Tips for India travel

Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2018
Page Load Success