So as the story goes, last night following a full and exhausting day at the World Economic Forum meeting here in India (the India Economic Summit), I managed to smash my eye glasses, here in New Delhi, India. This means that I could not see, literally, and I was nearly 8,000 miles from home, and my optometrist.

It was 11pm at night, and just for the heck of it I called down at the hotel to see if they could help. "No they could not," the response came back, "but I will have someone come to your room at 8am in the morning and they will be able to get your spectacles (that is the proper name they call eye glasses here) fixed." Pleasantly surprised but keeping my expectations low here, I decided to wait and see. Well, the next morning a nice man did indeed come and recover my eye glasses, and off he went, enthusiastically. I was impressed, but still not moved. Went off for my morning meeting barely able to see 10 feet in front of me clearly, and hoping I did not run into someone I knew (literally) who in turn thought maybe I saw them but for some reason didn’t want to speak. Needless to say, those few hours in the morning taught me a lot about what the sight-impaired have to deal with on a daily basis.

Anyway, I soon received a telephone call from a bell station supervisor at the hotel, which is named the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi and which is part of the Starwood Hotel line. He informed me that my glasses could not in fact be repaired (surprise, surprise), but needed to be completely rebuilt. The problem was these glasses were custom made for me and usually takes 2 weeks or more to be returned to me in the states when something goes wrong with a pair of them.  And so, to humor myself, I asked how long it would take to repair or rebuild them, and whether they actually could. The answer: yes they could, and I GOT THEM BACK THE SAME DAY, ACTUALLY WITHIN 6 HOURS!

Wef_india_photos_2007_021 Now, here is the really amazing part — the glasses look BETTER now than before I broke them!

These innovative Indian entrepreneurs returned my eye glasses to me, made of the highest grade materials and with the highest level of craftsmanship, within the same day of service. Amazing. The only problem with the glasses is something I did to them in trying to fix them myself (ladies and gentlemen, never try this at home – smile).

Now, all of this said, none of this would have happened had it not been for an amazing employee of the hotel who was absolutely committed to first class customer service and excellence, and solving my problem. That man’s name is Ashok K. Kanojia, a bell desk supervisor for the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, and a new friend of mine. Here he is, in this photo to the left, holding my better than new "spectacles."

Now, had this happened to me in beautiful New York City, at one of the best hotel even, I am sure I would have been told "…we can have it repaired for you within a week," or worse, I would have simply been "referred" someplace to sort it out for myself (which means, basically, "why don’t you wait and handle it when you get back home."). Not in India, and not with my friend Ashok.

Note to economic and goverment leaders the world over: globally, it is this level of hard work, customer service and excellence, which is literally propelling the India economy forward at 9% per annum, and it is this level of hard work, customer service and excellence, and genuine caring, which will propel me to book the same exact hotel whenever I come back to New Delhi, India.

"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan." 

Thanks Ashok for your lesson is humility, excellence, care, hard work, and best in class service my new friend. I won’t soon forget you.

Onward with HOPE,

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