Go(a)Digital – TravoMance’s First trip Post Demonetisation!
December, a month we look forward to, reasons galore from the nip in the air to the change in wear & gear to fast approaching Christmas & New Year, the mood is cheery and spirits, high!
I am sure Goa is your go to destination too when you want to take that sudden impromptu break, like they say its not merely a place but a state of mind and number of instances you would have been there is inconsequential. This December we decided to celebrate our parents anniversary in Goa as they are equally high on travelling and have seen India, more extensively than us. Except they can’t handle our drop of the hat plans of leaving home at 4 am without some planning or mental preparation, they say. So what if they had arrived from Kolkata only the previous afternoon they were whisked away the very next day for a 500 kms road trip to Goa, now December is the craziest month for the party capital when its nothing short of a Kumbh Mela but crowded touristy places and us are opposites, so more on that part later. I will certainly share the unsullied Goa we discovered on this trip, as oxymoronic as it may sound.
This post is a first hand account of how we traveled in the demonetization phase. Easier said than done cashless is a term we were getting used to so as the dates of travel came close, our wallets being dry made us a little uncomfortable.For almost the first time since Nov 8th we started queuing up in banks in the vicinity to ensure we had enough cash to travel, the fear of an emergency on the go, the challenge of moving out of comfort zone i.e Pune without enough cash started haunting us. And to put on records both of us totally support the move towards Digital India and till last week we had been to the bank just once to withdraw cash to pay the monthly wages to our helpers. Now we were a bit concerned, each visit to the bank would merely fetch us on an average 3-4 k and one must have at least 20 k as liquid cash when one is travelling with senior citizens and a child, a mindset we weaned off post this trip.
Started the trip with 15 k in our physical wallets(another term that soon will fade away)with an intention to not use unless dire emergency and few ifs & buts -tolls are usually crowded on weekends with long queues at rush hours ,what if the connectivity doesn’t support, what if Pernem isn’t digitalis-ed yet, what about the small shacks or small liquor shops.We are always up for challenges, taking things in our stride and to tide over them is our style, so we decided on the way that we would make no payments in cash unless imperative and started awaiting dealings where people and businesses insist on cash so that we could help them go digital instantly.
One of our biggest concern- high traffic on weekends was put to rest, from the first toll booth about 50 kms away till the last one in all 5 of them on National Highway 4 in the 480 kms stretch till one takes a diversion at Nipani we didn’t pay cash at a single one, they were only too happy to accept a Paytm, wallets and had EDC Machines to support Debit/Credit card transactions. Personnel at the booths seemed totally at ease with the move as cash counting, tallying, tendering toffees was not only a time consuming herculean affair but also a very risky one. At few instances there were some minor glitches like Paytm code not getting captured due to insufficient light, distance between the vehicle and booth more than the radar, honking by piled up vehicles behind, something that hardly seemed any different from the traffic signals that we are so used to, an EDC machine shared by 2 windows slowing the process or simply a connectivity failure. At every instance of inconvenience a bit tempted to pull out the cash but refrained and supported a cashless transaction. In 9 out of 10 toll booths we managed to go digital 🙂
Since we started from Pune at wee hours touched Nipani diversion around 8 am, our stopover for breakfast.Walked into an eatery bustling with business however the owner insisted on cash and had no alternate arrangements. Tried to reason out and even showed him a Paytm demo but he couldn’t seem to care. The first and second last cash transaction of the trip not due to being financially illiterate or unaware but simply the resistance to change.
The experience that needs a mention was at a teeny shack that we spend one afternoon at, guzzling down pints of beer and polishing off seafood the last thing on our mind was cash, happily tipsy awaiting to settle the bill and head towards the hotel room for a happy siesta, pleasures of being on a holiday was cut short by a middle aged woman who nonchalantly asked us to settle the bill in CASH, and all that tipsiness evaporated in a nanosecond. We tried to reason out with her but she said they were awaiting the swipe machine, we were collected this time around and asked her if she had a bank account and her answer in affirmative was enough to make us put our trainer hats on. We instantly did a NEFT for which she received the SMS alert also took her through a demo of mobile banking and Paytm. She promised to Go Digital at the earliest, having a track of her earnings and expenditure would give her life a new dimension, she confessed with a heart warming smile . The beer effect and siesta craving by now had dwindled but the small difference that we made took care of both!
Strange enough the state that has vowed to Go Digital in the new year has pockets that are very resistant about the move, not a single liquor shop accepted alternate payments and the reason wasn’t lack of know how but a mindset that only beneficiaries of the exercise were the banks, wonder who indoctrinated their minds or if this was their own coping mechanism of going on with unregistered businesses!
A week since we are back and we are doing our bit in Making India Go Digital, our car cleaner & helps at home have been coached on cashless transactions, every other day we are addressing offices colleges where the support staff needs to be trained on making and accepting payments through digital channels, we want India Cash Free Do You ?
Share your stories and let us know how are you supporting the dream – Digital India?