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For many years, Elena and her husband have made it a point to visit India every year. But with the government demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, she has found herself cashless and disappointed this year round.
“I love everything about this country — its culture, music, dance and food. So we make it a point to come here every year, and I always carry the rupee notes back home because I know I’ll use them next time. When we came to India about a month ago, all our currency was changed to Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. I might take a break from India now and come back after two years,” says the Spaniard, who is staying at a guesthouse in Paharganj.
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“A friend of ours gave us Rs 3,000 but that’s over now and I can’t take home gifts for my friends and family,” she says.
Elena’s story is something several other foreigners are echoing.
Jessica was on her way from Los Angeles to attend the Electric Daisy Carnival when the move was announced. With only 80 US dollars in hand — she planned to withdraw more from an ATM — she was shocked when she landed.
“I got Rs 4,600 after converting money, and half of that went in hotel rent in Paharganj. I was hoping I would be able to withdraw more money but with all these lines and a limit on withdrawal, I can’t. I had booked a trip to Taj Mahal on Sunday but since I didn’t have Rs 1,000 to pay as entry fees, my tour guide left me at the entrance and went inside with the rest of the tour group,” she says.
“I’ve somehow managed to survive on people’s goodwill and help, but it has been a bad experience,” she adds.
Some tourists claim that touts are offering to give them notes of lower denominations, but at an exorbitant price. “They are only offering 50 per cent of the value of our money. Many foreigners are forced to take this route,” says Pavel from Russia.
Jasmine from Israel said she stood in ATM queues every day for hours to withdraw Rs 2,000. “Half the day goes by standing in queues,”