Ask any Indian housewife for her mobile phone and check for the ‘saved’ numbers. Apart from her family (including the favourite niece in Canada) and friends (his best friend from school in Florida), work numbers (if she is a working woman),doctor ,restaurants etc., there is another irreplaceable list. One that literally makes her weep if she loses her phone.
This list includes, apart from the mobile number of the household help (of course every self-respecting house help in the city has a mobile), the sabziwala (vegetable vendor), fruit wala, plumber, electrician, pan wala, dvd wala, istri wala (ironing man), dhobi(washer man), and AC/Washing machine repair wala. What is amazing is that, the other day I happened to stop by on the road to buy a jasmine plant from a redi wala (person selling things from a hand cart) selling plants, and asked him where I could find him next. Out came his mobile and he promptly asked me to save his number for future use!
And while I may know the physical location of the fruit and vegetable vendors, I certainly don’t know where exactly my electrician and plumber are located. I call on their mobiles, they arrive and do the job. C’est Finit (That’s it). My kabaadi wala (collector of waste / old newspapers/ bottles) is a phone call away and do I even need to know where he recycles the stuff ?
These businesses thrive on the mobile phone. Their numbers are their visiting cards and their customer referrals happen when we hand over their mobile numbers to friends and family over a meal,when someone inquires if we happen to know a decent plumber or AC repair man. Maids and drivers who are looking for jobs in an area often just give their numbers to the building watchman, who then will give them a quick ring in case there is a ‘job opportunity’ in the building. If someone is low on ‘balance’, you will most likely get a ‘missed ‘ call and then call them back. Even my mother uses the missed called method, to let the friend who accompanies her for their morning walk know that she is on her way.
The system works…. curious though it may seem. There is a whole new business model in operation here and it has spawned a whole new way of expansion and growth for these small self -made mobile owning entrepreneurs, who make up an indispensable part of our world, and dare I say, the Indian economy.
Who needs bricks and mortar then, when you have the Advantage Mobile!