A Stranger’s Kindness in Micato’s India

By Bob Ramsay April 4, 2018

How big is Delhi?

20 million people spread across 573 square miles.

How big is an iPhone?

5.4 inches long and 2.6 inches wide.

This is the story of how one Micato client lost her iPhone in a teeming market of Old Delhi, and a few days later had it back in her hands.

Mary Jo Looby was part of a private Micato Bespoke group from Toronto touring the Soul of India in March. MaryJo and her husband were in the back of a cycle rickshaw in the fabled Chandni Chowk market in Delhi. The market is packed with people, tuk-tuks, cars, overhead wires and hundreds of food and clothing stalls. At some times in the day, getting 100 yards can take half an hour. But it’s the real India, or at least one facet of it.

When Mary Jo and the group got back into the Micato van, she reached for her iPhone and… it wasn’t there. Everyone looked in the van. No one looked in the market because that would be futile. Was it lost? Stolen? Whatever. It was gone.

And not just the iPhone with its photos and contacts, but three credit cards inside the phone cover.

It didn’t take long for Mary Jo to give up hope of getting any of this back. All her contacts, her pictures and of course her credit cards. Even if some good Samaritan found it, and the odds of that were slim to none, how would they be able to connect with her to get it back?

An act of kindness, fueled by remarkable detective work

Flash forward a week and Ranthambore National Park: up at 5:00 a.m. for another luxury tiger safari and there was a text on her husband’s iPhone from Mary Jo’s brother Joe Looby, who lives in Dublin, Ontario (population 300). It seems a woman named Sonam Singhal from Delhi, India had contacted him via Facebook. She had found a phone and credit cards and was trying to track down its owner who she hoped might be someone he knew! “Looby” is not a common last name and Sonam had searched the pictures on Mary Jo’s Facebook account and deduced that Joe could be a relative.

Joe Looby initially suspected a hoax. But when he and Sonam figured out that each of them was ‘real,’ he was as gobsmacked at her social media detective work. Sonam gave Joe her phone number and Mary Jo contacted her right away.

But the real miracle is that Sonam Singhal’s father had found the phone lying in the dust outside his jewelery store in the Chandni Chowk market. He called his tech-savvy daughter, and while the phone was locked with a passcode, the wallpaper family photo and name on the credit cards gave Sonam enough leads to start her search.

Good news travelled fast. Lisa Alam Shah from Micato’s Delhi office told Mary Jo she would have her phone to give her when they met up for lunch in Delhi before the group’s flight to Varanasi. What she didn’t tell her is that Sonam Singhal’s would be there as well, along with her fiancé who works with a London investment bank. Both had been invited to join the group for lunch to thank them for Sonam’s extraordinary act of neigbourliness.

When Mary Jo and Sonam first laid eyes on each other, Sonam exclaimed: “It’s you. I know you from your Facebook pictures!”

Mary Jo and Sonam have since been in touch by FaceBook (of course!). A thank you gift made its way from Toronto to Delhi shortly after Mary Jo’s return.

Of all the wonderful memories and stories of an amazing trip to India, nothing beats the tale of a phone lost in a city of 20 million, in a country of 1.2 billion and how a stranger helped it find its way home again…

— Bob Ramsay

Bob Ramsay is CEO of RamsayInc, a communications agency that also operates RamsayTalks and RamsayTravels.

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