My mother’s music teacher was a paan aficionado and it was my duty to go to the neighbourhood paan shop to get a paan filled with 90 number tobacco packed for him for a princely sum of 10 paise. I used to look forward to this daily duty, because the paanwala would give me a free paan filled with rose leaves paste ( gulakand).
For years, I travelled by local to my office and would pick up my daily copy of The Economic Times from a particular newspaper vendor. Did he give it for free or lower price? No rather I’d occasionally leave some change with him; I would go to him because he welcomed me with a smile and gave me my copy without I having to ask for it.
Travelling by DTC bus to office in the morning peak hours is a pain no less than the Mumbai local. Not for me though for I’d take a particular bus whose conductor would acknowledge my presence, leave his seat for me and was unbelievably courteous.
At the barber shop, I sometimes choose to wait even for an hour for a particular hair stylist to be free, for he receives me with a smile, knows my requirement and gives me a free 30 seconds of head massage.
Reliance retail, Amazon, Flipkart, D Mart can become billion dollar companies and drive the grocer next door out of business, but what they cannot provide is the personal touch! When someone receives you with a smile, understands your requirement without you having to tell him, be large hearted to let you sample a product before buying or give a small chocolate to the child accompanying you, these are typical examples of personal touch that’s so unique to our country. This is part of our basic philosophy of athiti devo bhava or a guest is god, customer being a guest for the seller, which is different from the relatively newer philosophy, “ customer is king”, which is followed by the large retailers and e trailers, by providing choice and competitive pricing under one roof.
Air conditioned comfort and so much to choose
Or Amazon’s sale and loot as much as you can loot;
Place order on your smart phone and receive goods sitting at home
To go searching for a thing in sun and dust, those times are gone
But I am a little old fashioned, personal touch matters to me
My free paan and personal touch I value, and rest doesn’t matter to me