I clicked on a
story a few weeks ago that listed the ‘five best places to travel to in a recession.’ Foolishly, I expected India to be on the list. After all, we gave ‘shoe-string budget’ a whole new meaning. Or so it seems to many of us who have travelled to other countries only to find that the Rs 1,000 note doesn’t count for much when up against the greenback, the neuro-Euro or the Queen’s Sterling.
But this article wasn’t about regular cheap destinations. It was on ‘typically pricey destinations’ now within reach of ordinary Americans. For how else would South Korea, Britain, Canada, Iceland and Australia beat us?
Sure, we are hovering somewhere at the dodgy end of the Human Development Index, and the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, Trans-parency International’s Global Corruption Barometer. But is it fair to keep us out of the top order in any index of budget travel?
So, even as goggle-eyed visitors continue to lap up bargains in our touristy bylanes, which ‘native’ loiterers are often shooed away from, we will continue to shell out a ransom on air tickets to hunt for ‘bargains’ at Christmas sales in pricey retail chains abroad, while Incredible !ndia continues to elude credit in cheap travel indices.
I do wonder where the poor Indian traveller might eventually have to go for some ‘spiritual’ succour. And please don’t say Varanasi.