ways of communicating
Sitting at a rickety wooden structure on the pavement near Colombo’s
main hospital, I.H. Ashoka makes a living by offering telephone
calls for a small fee to customers.
feature that sets Ashoka apart from other pavement hawkers however
is the fact that he is blind. Despite the fact that he sits behind
a public telephone booth, clients line up to obtain telephone calls
from Suntel’s “Off the shelf” phone that sits
in front of Ashoka.
handicap does not seem to effect the efficiency with which he runs
his business though, as he himself rapidly dials the numbers for
his customers. “I am used to dialling now,” he says
and demonstrates how quickly he can operate the machine.
from Dematagoda, the potential business venture had first dawned
on Ashoka when listening to a television commercial, advertising
Suntel CDMA telephones which can be charged, unplugged and then
used as a wireless telephone.
have been doing this business for about a month now,” he says,
adding that the money he earns is sufficient for him to live on.
He operates only at one place in the heart of Colombo, but says
that since he attracts approximately 50 to 60 customers a day, he
has no wish to change his location. “I charge this phone for
three hours in the night and sell calls from about 8.00 am to about
8.00 pm until the battery becomes low again,” he said.
living example of how necessity breeds invention, Ashoka, a blind
man sitting on the pavement selling telephone calls, takes entrepreneurship
to new heights.