‘A Blackberry Addict’ Part 2: The story of Lattoo

“You should be accepting credit cards” I said. “No one carries cash anymore you know, get one of those machines that waiters have?”

The young boy grinned widely. Smiling benignly at my perfectly impossible request. Probably has never seen the inside of a restaurant that takes credit cards.

“How much does it cost ?” I asked pointing at one of the five ‘original’ Blackberry car chargers he was holding up. I am one of those that regularly charge my Blackberry last thing before I sleep, but often forget to turn ‘on’ the main power switch. Don’t you get confused between the US and India, where off is on, and on is off ?

“250 rupees”. Five dollars

‘But I don’t have any cash”, I said ” will take it next time I pass through”. By now the cars behind me are angrily honking away. The lights are about to turn from red to green. You notice in India how people start honking at you before they turn green ?

“No, you take it now, and pay me later when you pass through”

The cars honking increased as I sat there looking straight into his honest eyes. Is he serious ? Not a hint of doubt there.

“How will I find you ?” For we were at a heavy traffic junction where most boys his age and dressed like him are begging.

“Oh, just ask for me, take it and pay me later. My name is Lattoo”. Means a spinning top. But my head was spinning now, this kid was making a sale, and he was gambling on the negotiation like a pro. Could this really be true ?

By now drivers were passing me by and hooting to show their displeasure.

“But what if you are not here when I pass again ?”

” Here, put my mobile number in you Blackberry, just call me”, he said as he handed the Blackberry charger to me.

I had enough charge for that, so quickly did and drove away before the lights turned red.

The whole transaction took about a minute in which Lattoo made a quick risk assessment against potential return. And no, he did not recognize me. In that time he told me he bought the charger for Rs 250, but I insisted he told me the truth so he admitted to Rs 230.

Given that I have spent the whole of yesterday and last night with my lawyers going through reams of contracts from executives covering every possible eventuality in a transaction, I was amazed at the trust a street urchin put in a transaction.

I am flying to London tomorrow. My office has Lattoo’s no, and Rs 500 to give him. He deserves it. When I come back I am going to call him and invest Rs 5000 in him and show him the same trust he showed in me. For he showed true entreprenuership at grass root level.

And yes, the charger works !

43 Responses to “‘A Blackberry Addict’ Part 2: The story of Lattoo”

  1. kavitha says:

    …and the addict just became a ‘grassroot MFI’ (unlike the SKS’ of the world)!

  2. Mee says:

    This can happy in only aamchi Mumbai. These things makes one less cynical and promises hope!:)

    The newspaper selling kids at Worli-do this often- their gamble is ‘ us people dressed well, who speak well, drive the cars we drive- cannot thug him of his money. So they lay the sweet talk on us- we land up not just paying for the newspaper but wonder if he;d like to go to school and enroll him in too:”

    Lovely narration:)

  3. Harb says:

    Congratulations on becoming member of the innovation committe or something of India. Seems you have already begun working as one.

  4. Niranjan says:

    Boys in the streets are surely intelligent to make that level of assessment in India. Of course you are driving in a car. I have also come across this some time back.

  5. Phoenixritu says:

    Hi, I am a blackberry addict too! I loved the last story of yours about the repairs on your BB. These kids have street smarts – and I would trust their assessment of human nature more than mine. Seems like the boy’s judgment is sound, with you wanting to invest in him

  6. mitul says:

    thanks Shekhar for moral booster……….people around are just too cynical……….

  7. kartikeya says:

    Dear Shekhar,

    You might have heard of Prof Anil Gupta of IIM-A.
    He writes a blog about the innovative and creative people of rural india here is the link, u might enjoy it.
    http://www.sristi.org/anilg/anilgblog.php

    Best,

    Kartikeya

  8. kavitha says:

    those with a heart fail to feel…those with eyes fail to see…those with a mind, fail to imagine…

    the deprived or the challenged scale heights farther than one could ever imagine. Erik Weihenmayer did not have to move mountains to achieve his dream, he just scaled it ! A moving and inspiring documentary — http://bit.ly/bx0p5a

  9. brahmastra says:

    Cool. Perhaps you can tell the story of this slumdog’s soulful and intelligent nature to the wretch Danny Boyle who is busy making eastern poverty porn for the west, so he better understands India. There was another recent movie called Eat, Pray, Love where India is once again portrayed as some dirty place where “you shouldn’t touch anything but yourself”. No doubt, the wannabes of India are going to laud the movie when it hits the theatres there. Some of these western filmmakers are clearly working with a biased agenda.

  10. Great vignette of Aamchi Mumbai. Not sure where brahmastra is coming from, but I wouldn’t trust him to make a commercially successful movie. Last time I checked, commercial movies are made to make money, not to fit someone’s definition of accurate portrayal.

    The overseas people that matter to India are aware that India isn’t one big slum, but they also know that if they land at the beloved Chattrapati’s airport in Mumbai, they will see squalor before they see the more palatable parts of Urbs Prima In Indis.

  11. KayEm says:

    Hi, Someone posted a link to your previous story on Facebook and I was hooked. That story was fun. It made me laugh. Keep ’em coming!

  12. Sumita says:

    @Brahmastra: Actually, Eat Pray Love has got quite bad reviews here! 🙂

  13. Deepa Premkumar says:

    Touch wood , i’m sure India is filled with Lattoo’s and i’m glad you can give one of them a chance .

  14. Trupti says:

    Mind blowing…thanks for investing..

  15. It is such small acts of gratefulness combined with kindness and trust, that could be the answer to building an India which everyone could be proud of, instead of contemplating and portraying our nation as merely being poor. We might be a poor nation but filled with street smart intelligent youngsters who could be our future strength. Thank you for the kindness!

  16. Rashmi says:

    What a lovely story…can you share Lattoo’s mobile num on mail, I would like to invest in him also…something abt this story that made me feel like I know this kid 🙂

  17. Minakshi Karan says:

    Dear Sir,
    This time simply taken away by your gesture. You have touched the heights in your area but then also having your foots firmly rested on the ground. I am not writing all these to butter you but you also deserve so, that’s why. You are really showing not only your younger generation but everybody that how one can give back to the society. Thank you for being there.
    Thank you.
    Minakshi

  18. brahmastra says:

    Ash Nallawalla,

    Commercial success bundled with sadism is the obvious motive behind such poverty-porn movies for some of these westerners. Agreed that India has its problems, but it is a common sight to see beggars doing cartwheels and playing games on the streets, and homeless people in deep slumber on footpaths next to busy roads. How is this possible? How can these people be in such a serene state despite their material situation? How is this Lattoo able to have the spirit of entrepreneurship and trust that is lacking in even the most affluent people in the piglike consumers of the pseudo-glam social bracket? Of course when you eat pigs and animals, you tend to take over many of their qualities. This basic logic is what many complex political schools of thought do not factor into their theories of social engineering.
    The magic of India is sadly being lost with progressive generations, and the polar diseases of maoism and consumerism have started the countdown to extinction. Enjoy your made in china (with illegally mined materials from india) blackberry in the interim.

  19. Manoj says:

    Indeed we have plenty of skills out there on street; the issue is no body is tapping this talent. So the potential is there but the means are not available.
    Shekhar, your efforts are greatly appreciated. Hope we have many more like you.

  20. Manoj says:

    Indeed we have plenty of skills out there on street; the issue is no body is tapping this talent. So the potential is there but the means are not available.
    Shekhar, your efforts are greatly appreciated. Hope we have many more like you.
    Check this video for example of what else is on the streets….
    http://www.youtube.com/user/sufiwindsurfing#p/a/u/2/1foUmDN_wwo

  21. Debashri says:

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story! I think, the best stories we read about, or know about, from others are those of regular people…..

  22. Deepika says:

    What a lovely story! Shekhar, can you add a like button for each of your posts?

  23. Adarniya Shekhar Ji,

    Apne Bhartiya Kisano ki durdasha aur hamare prakrtik sansadhno k durupyog par jo awaj uthayi h. Wo atyadhik sarahniya h. Uski jitni prashansa ki jaye, kam h. Ye multinational companies hamare kisano ki ek bar fir gulami ki taraf le ja rahe h. Ye unke saman ko mitti k mol kharidte h. aur use hazaro guna jyada dam par bechte h. Ye hamare sansadhno ka dohan kar rahe h. Jaise jal ko andhadundh dohan kar rahe h. Uske sanrakshan k liye koi kam nahi karte h. Jabki hamare kch states aur distts. jal-viheen h. waha log pyase marte h. Ye hamare jal se packing kar jal ko 12 rs/litr, aur usi ko cold drink k nam se 28-30 rs/litr tak bechte h. Aur bhi tamam sansadhno ka durupayog karte h. Hamari nazar me atankwadi to banduk se hamla karte karte h. lekin ye to pure desh me ghar-ghar me jakr karte h. Aapne jo awaj uthayi h uska SWAGAT h. Aap isi tarah se jo andolan chhede to ham apke sath h.

  24. kavitha says:

    Adarniya Gupta ji,

    kya aap kisano ke saath kaam karte hain?

  25. Scott Haas says:

    Shekhar, I just found out you’re producing “The Siege of Krishnapur!” You beat me to it, congrats! No doubt, this will make a spectacular movie. Few books are as smart, funny, ironic, and insightful. Forgive the bubris, but if there’s any way for me to be involved in the project…

    Just back from Mashobra, by the way, staying there for the month at a lovely, isolated cottage below Wildflower. Owned by the son-in-law of Simranjit Singh Mann…Singh Mann’s daughter Pavit is writing a memoir about her father that Random House India is publishing. Talk about a great movie…!

  26. Anand Pethe says:

    What a great short story..both you and lattoo deserve a big hand. thanks for sharing it with us.
    I want to gift you a novel written by me ‘just another love story’. How i can get it to you? Its there on amazon and flipkart and all the other sites but.. I want to give it to you myself. ..
    Please help me through this…

    No need to tell BIG FAN of your..

  27. Pratima says:

    mindblowing!!
    have you had a chance to watch this movie..”Agantuk” by Satyajit Ray? if you haven’t, then you must. It talks about trust, & the urban middle & upper middle class’s perspective about it. Also, how the concept of civilization is labelled by today’s world. The beauty lies in the simplicity of the language & the medium that Ray uses.

  28. […] Kapur on Grassroot entrepreneurship in India – The director’s description of a routine interaction with […]

  29. nimi khanna says:

    This is what gives India a SOUL.Let me share another Indian street story..I was in Lajpat nagar I just stepped out of a ‘KHOKA ‘ shop.Smack in front of my face jumps out a darkish complexioned woman.She had a basket of combs on her head.Puts it on the ground in front of me and has me blocked “Aap ki taang mein dard hai, Amma ko Gandhraj Baba ne Tail Bataiya..kaagaz nakalo, likho”.I was taken aback because I had terrible pain in my legs for two months and the honesty in her eyes was speaking to me so loudly that it did not take me long to pull out some paper,and as I was doing so I said “but who is this Baba?”Promptly she replied “Gandbraj Baba ko nahin jaante? Jungle ke raaja hain..Likho aur unhon ne Amma ko bola kisi se paise nahin lena iske..Likho.”She quickly blabbered the recipe and picked up her basket just as quick and disappeared into the crowds.Well for me the story did not end there.I came home made the oil as instructed and started applying….two days, the pain disappeared fifty parcent and few more days totally.
    This is INDIA and I so love it.

  30. I’m curious which car you drive. That must have played a part in your assessment by this lovable Entrepreneur

  31. Neeta says:

    Wise choices by both of you! It is indeed inspiring to see people being the best they can be inspite of circumstances to the contrary..

  32. Sharad says:

    Sir what a nice article…………… I appreciate ur theme and the way u have structured ur thoughts. I have also read ur article in Amar Ujala “Asli bharat ki tasvir” Wonderful…………Thanx

  33. salu says:

    dear sk,
    i read it with great interest…….
    We occassionally come across with such brillinat chaps with all their innocence and magnaniity. Thanks much putting this post.
    n rgrds
    salu.

  34. Fernando says:

    I would like to know what has been of Lattoo. Could you please follow up on this story?

    Greetings,

    A costa rican in Germany.

  35. jasleen says:

    life’s little smiles and secrets at the most unassuming moments and places; loved this story! Rs. 5000 spent very well.

  36. dear sir,

    small one however really touching..i thought the battery doesnt work but the last sentence indeed give a whack to my thought process..For all of us, street boys are not supposed to have heart.thank you sir

  37. shyan says:

    these street urchins have amazing marketing strategies !! what more…lattoo gets a mention in your blog!!!

  38. Inder says:

    Hello Shekhar

    That’s why we call it ‘Incredible India’ and “It happens only in India’.
    There are many lattoos who are not on roads but are trying to struggle to find a better place in this hierarchical world. exploring their dreams.
    For Lattoo, your real investment would be to to make him learn. Handing over 5000 bucks would just encourage him on the path of ignorance. Imagine somebody handing over 5000 bucks in a child’s hand. Just step into that child’s shoes and know people around him and I am sure you will be forced to reconsider your thoughts and would want to help him out in some other manner. I am just trying to say that Help him to earn for his life and not 10 days.
    Pls dont mistake me for being so critical. At least you are doing something for somebody. I am nobody in front of you but could not hold myself back writing this. Looking forward to your reply.

    Cheers!
    Inder
    A Lattoo!!!

  39. Puja says:

    Just curious – Did you go back to him later?

  40. shekhar says:

    Looked for Lattoo, asked my office to search for him, but never found him !! and his cell no is not operational – still hoping I will find him, shekhar

  41. Lalit Burma says:

    Lovely one …

    Just thinking about it and will post more when I have more to say and more to ask from you.

    Shekhar now you got a new fan of your writing. (And I would say credit goes to Amit Agarwal – Labnol.org)

  42. anjney says:

    Hi , a some what same thing happened ,iwas working for a telecom mnc and was looking after business of rural area of Alwar(rajasthan) one day while going to a distant village that was 21 km from my base town my bike got punchured it was 10 km from base town in a small village having 7 or 8 houses.there was one person who had some kind of desi jugad to fix puncture,but the tragedy was my tube got punchured from several places as i had travelled 2 km with this tube.so to fix it was mission impossible the only option left was a new tube luckily he was having a spare tube. iasked the price and he said its worth 200 rupee i just took out my wallet to seee how much i was having but surprise surprise it was empty ,in morning i forgot to go to ATM.So here i was with a puncture bike and no money even to catch a bus .so i shared with the puncturewallah tht i have no money to pay for tube on hearing this he humbly said just have the tube and pay when u visit the village again.i was surprised that he is trusting without even knowing me ,so i had the tube and on my way back the payment was made for the tube…

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