Lucknow: Defence Expo 2020 has some heavy duty and very expensive military weapons on display. But there is something for those on a budget as well.
Benarasi sarees. Chicken kurtas and pottery. The Air Force Wives Welfare Association has set up a separate stall at the venue to display handicrafts in the middle of all the hardware.
An odd sight certainly, but one that has caught the eye of foreign and Indian delegates.
Ashutosh Chabbara has come with his wares from Varanasi.
“I am in service of the nation. It is important for people to understand how culturally diverse we are. Some delegates have picked bags from us,” he said.
At the counter selling Lucknow’s famed chikankari, Revanshu Aggarwal is in charge.
“When we heard the Def Expo was happening in our city, we wanted to be here. Delegates should know the cultural heritage of the city hosting them,” he said.
The most popular stall is the Air Force merchandise stall, selling everything from Rafale t-shirts to fighter pilot key chains.
Most people aren't quite sure how to react to a handicrafts store in the middle of tanks and drones and missile systems.
“I am not sure who would want to buy Benarasi sarees when they come to check out Brahmos. But it is a good break to walk in and see something other than high-end tech,” said a visitor.
In another classic “it happens only in India moment”, Lucknow is plastered with posters that have caused much embarrassment to the Uttar Pradesh government. Their ‘Make in India’ hoarding features made-in-Turkey helicopters. The picture was tweeted out by the official handle of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and tagged everyone, from the Defence Ministry to the official handle of the DefExpo. But despite the error, the tweet has not been removed.