We (Indians) didn’t even wait for a day to see how the Currency Ban will affect a normal life. We took it in a positive frame with some meaningless conversations (I call it meaningless as most of us don’t have any educational background in economics) and called it a “Surgical Strike on Black Money.”
The night this ban was announced, I was on a train from Jaipur to Varanasi. As per the official announcement, the notes were supposed to be working on Railway Stations.
Personally, I had to pay 100 INR notes as the cashier went out of all the change!
This was the first “Surgical Strike” of Us to every place where we can find the Change.
Next morning, I was in Banaras (Varanasi) and I was hoping that the city will have options to pay digitally. The reality was different!
There are no places in Varanasi where you can pay digitally!
I haven’t found a single Auto or Took Took or a single shop which takes payment from PayTM or digital cards.
Based on the details I have from Facebook updates of people (mostly travelers) in my network, the digital payment options are present in metro cities like Delhi. There have been a few local shopkeepers who came onboard with solutions like PayTM.
In Varanasi, the story is completely different! It’s the oldest city in India and it behaves like one.
I’m staying at a Hostel and every night, we all travelers sit on the rooftop to discuss our day. From day one in Varanasi, none of the travelers from foreign countries have had a worthy experience.
Every day they have to stand in long queues to get cash. They have been walking from one bank to another, one ATM to another. Like a scavenger hunt or something!
Personally, I’m not liking it at all!
Let’s not stretch it further and talk some fact.
Surviving without 500/1000 notes or digital payment options?
Tip 1 – Talk nicely to the locals so that they can help you with the change. I have managed to pay my food bills with the 500 and 1000 INR notes from day one (we paid 950INR bill with a 1000 INR note last night). To make it work, me and my friends here in the hostel are going to the same restaurant every day. It’s like we’re giving them regular business and in return, they are helping us!
Tip 2 – To save the money we’re left with or the cash we were able to take out from the Bank and ATMs, we have been walking a lot. Banaras is all about Ghats and streets. So, taking an auto or cab doesn’t make sense to me. In past three days, we must have walked about 20KMs around the old city.
Tip 3 – I was in Banaras to try local food, for which the city is famous for. And, the food is not that costly too! In past four days, my total food expense is still below 1000 INR mark. Katelyn, Al, and a couple of friends from foreign countries are mostly relying on fruits and a couple of affordable restaurants we found here.
Tip 4 – We’ve cut down our usual expenses and have been relying on the basic things. Instead of eating out in every two-three hours, we’ve been keeping it to two or three times. To a person like me, who likes to eat in every 2-3 hours, it’s a big thing to give up!
Tip 5 – Avoid going to places like Varanasi which are not that touristic! People in metro cities and even tier 1 and tier 2 cities are sitting comfortably (most of them). And, based on the updates I have read on Facebook, even tourists are fine.
Few More Tips for Foreigners
If you’re traveling in India and have been despising the government here for this sudden decision, then don’t worry that much. People here in the hostel, found help whenever needed.
Of course, the experience has been ruined, but it’s still not that bad. As a traveler, we are open to all sort of challenges. Personally, I (and most of the friends I have here) travel on a lowest budget possible and this currency ban has taught us a few more lessons in life.
For the tourist types, I don’t think it’s a big issue as most of the places they stay and eat are already having digital payment options.
A New Chapter Added to My Journey!
From the moment I heard about currency ban, I knew I am in for a treat. This time, it’s bigger than I could imagine!
In past, I have tried my best to travel and complete my urge to travel to a city on the lowest budget possible. This time, I have been keeping things to even low profile!
For example, I didn’t have a reservation in train and was sitting near the door (during the night). An official came and offered me a seat to sleep. In return, I had to pay him 500INR and I was totally fine with it.
In fact, I still feel like I didn’t pay him, at all!