Just like every December, my family and I departed on our annual vacation expecting intense flight delays due to fog-related congestions across various airports that converge at Delhi.
To our good luck, the flight departed and arrived on time at Indira Gandhi International Airport New Delhi, giving us plenty of time to – shop and dine!
Right from the word “go”, it was a shopping delight for the kids. A bit of airport shopping, in-flight (junk) food and then the eponymous walk along the inner circle at Connaught Place, New Delhi. It was their first visit to one of the retail havens of India and they enjoyed every bit, save for the prying eyes of random people on the streets.
We first ate a hearty meal at Haldiram’s before undertaking the long walk, so as to end up at Wagh Bakri for a pre-dinner snack.
Over the next 5 days, we travelled over 2,000 kms by road and rail across Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. We visited off-beat locations, including temples and high-points on the hills.
At every point of sale, it was surprising, perhaps I shouldn’t be, that the shopkeepers were accepting payments through UPI. There were instances where the vendor preferred a digital payment, for want of not accepting Rs. 500 and offering change.
Until 2017, this was a dream, rather a nightmare. It was not just important to carry along a Debit card, the town or city needed to have a functional ATM too. So, one had to carry adequate cash to shop, eat and consume goods and services.
It is indeed incredible that in a quaint little town such as Bageshwar that the roadside vendor selling groundnuts was willing to accept Rs. 30 using UPI.
Jageshwar, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited and offered his prayers, has atleast 50 shops and each one of them offer various items including pooja articles, trinkets, gifts and much more. All of them accept UPI payments, though many of them do not even have a credit card swiping machine.
While a lot of credit would go to the Modi-style governance, I would also give it 100% to the users – shopkeepers and consumers for embracing UPI-based payments. And seamlessly.
India is shinning and will further shine for the next 10-15 years, irrespective of which political party will rule the country. A continuity in regime will certainly help improve governance. The consumer boom will continue to stay as well, what with a growing middle class which is on a spending spree, whether it is during festivals or otherwise.
The tourism opportunity is opening big time in the country and domestic tourism spends are expected to double in the next 10 years.
PM Modi’s recent visit to Lakshwadeep islands to promote tourism is nothing new. In 2019, he met the Chinese Premier at Mamallapuram, near Chennai, a historic travel point. Since then, visitors to the coastal town have swelled, post pandemic especially, including the springing up of various hotels, resorts, home stays and lodges.
Similarly there have been many such examples of our PM promoting Indian tourism. Which is well followed by consumerism at its best.
I have already swore I will tour more within India in 2024. We have shortlisted a few locations for our summer vacation during the last weekend. Where are you travelling next? Share your story.