This weekend there was a Travel and Tourism fair organized in Bangalore. The major travel agents, tour operators, ITDC (India tourism Development Corporation) and state tourism development corporations were the major participants. It was really encouraging to see the government officials taking pride in what they are doing and promoting tourism and destinations in their states like any business house would do. They spoke passionately about how the destinations in their respective states were good and how the facilities were improving. I had the chance of speaking to a director of ITDC for good 45 minutes or so. After introducing myself, I asked him what the opportunities are for a person like me in the travel industry if I want to enter it. He took the time to understand my profile and then came up with options, and when I shared with him few options that I had in mind, he explained them to me very meticulously, explaining what would be good and what may not be very viable. He shared his contact details and said feel free to talk whenever you are ready with your plans. While discussing India as a tourism destination, he said, you will see that within next ten years the face of India is going to change and it will be the most preferred destination. And while we were discussing the culture change that we require in attending to the tourists and developing a tourism friendly atmosphere and attitude, something on the lines of Goa, this guy looked at me and said, “Anuradha, for me you are the changing face of India. A few years back I would not have thought of a lady, walking up to me, already working in a booming industry and trying to step into a sunrise industry and being a part of the change there.” He said it in 10-15 sentences, with a few more adjectives and believe me no one has ever described my existence so beautifully.
The theme state of the fair was Jammu and Kashmir, and we got to hear a lot of good Urdu poetry, Qawallis, Ghazals and some Dogri and Kashmiri dances that took me back to my school days. All the performing artists were locals of Jammu and Kashmir. They were so simple that it reminded me that when we go and attend some shows it to hear or watch the core thing that the artist has to offer. They were simply dressed with no frills and bells attached. They had simple instruments, but great voices. Since the number of audiences was not very high, we had a chance to chat with the troupe and the secretary for culture for J&K, and he was also an enthusiastic person, and simple enough to say, please meet me whenever you visit Kashmir. And they all felt a sense of connection when I told them that I have spent a year of my childhood in Kashmir.
An absolutely complete experience: with a lot of insights into what I want to do, a nostalgic meeting with the folk music that I have up with, an excellent rendering of ghazals and to top it all amazing food. Had the Walnut Chutney for the first time in my life, had to coax the cook to tell me the recipe. And all of this came in an absolutely unplanned way, like all the other pleasant things in life.
Are we the new changing face of India?