Saturday, July 01, 2023

Refusing To Pay (Short Story)

Deepak was a middle-aged man living in the bustling city of Mumbai, India. He had seen his fair share of changes over the years, as technology infiltrated every aspect of daily life. But one thing that always puzzled him was the way people in the West clung to their cash, even in the face of advanced payment systems. He considered it a thing of the past, a relic of a bygone era.

One sweltering summer day, Deepak found himself in a narrow alley lined with food stalls and eager customers. The tantalizing aroma of street food filled the air, mingling with the sounds of chatter and sizzling oil. As he strolled along the bustling street, his eyes landed on an American tourist standing in front of a colorful ice cream cart.

The American man, clad in shorts and a loose T-shirt, carefully reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. Deepak furrowed his brow, perplexed by the sight. In India, cash transactions had become increasingly rare. People simply whipped out their smartphones, scanned a barcode displayed on the vendor's cart, and completed the payment through digital wallets. It was quick, convenient, and left no room for error.

Intrigued by this oddity, Deepak lingered nearby, observing the unfolding scene. The American approached the ice cream vendor, who had a small mobile payment terminal next to his display of frosty delights. A confused expression crossed the vendor's face as the tourist extended his hand, offering the cash for the ice cream.

Deepak couldn't help himself any longer. He stepped forward, catching the attention of both the American and the vendor. With a friendly smile, he said, "Excuse me, sir. I hope you don't mind my curiosity, but we usually pay using our smartphones here. It's faster and more efficient. Would you like some help?"

The American looked surprised but grateful for the offer. "Oh, thank you! That would be great," he replied with a hint of embarrassment. "I'm not used to these mobile payment systems. I guess I'm just an old-fashioned cash guy."

Deepak chuckled warmly. "No worries. It's fascinating how our payment methods differ across cultures. Let me show you how it works."

Deepak took out his smartphone and opened his preferred mobile payment app. He swiftly navigated through the options and generated a barcode on his screen. Holding the phone toward the vendor's terminal, he scanned the code, and a satisfying beep confirmed the successful transaction.

The American watched in awe as the transaction took place within seconds. "That was incredible! So efficient and convenient," he exclaimed.

Deepak nodded, pleased to share a bit of his culture with the visitor. "Indeed, it has become an integral part of our lives. It saves time, reduces the risk of carrying cash, and offers various discounts and rewards. Plus, it helps in creating a digital record of transactions."

The American fished out his wallet and tucked away the cash. "You've opened my eyes to a new way of doing things. I guess it's about time I embraced this digital era."

With a newfound appreciation for the benefits of mobile payments, the American bid Deepak farewell and indulged in his chosen ice cream flavor. Meanwhile, Deepak continued his stroll, content that he had helped someone understand the changing dynamics of a cashless society.

As he walked away, Deepak couldn't help but smile, knowing that he had bridged the gap between cultures and made a small difference in the life of a stranger. It was a reminder that even in an increasingly interconnected world, there was always room for learning, understanding, and embracing new ways of doing things.

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