Before coming to the Netherlands, I collected my Temporary Visitor’s Visa (TVV) in Moscow. There I exchanged my US dollars for euros and the clerk at the exchange bureau gave me three 100-euro and two 50-euro banknotes. With those notes in my pocket I arrived in Amsterdam and travelled to the city of Wageningen.
Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek
The lovely 88 bus to Wageningen was standing at Ede-Wageningen station. I was wondering how to pay the fare because other passengers had their OV Cards to pay with. I started a conversation with the bus driver, explained my situation and asked for help. A smiling face replied that I could pay in cash, so I took out a 100-euro banknote to pay. The bus driver instantly said: ‘Wait, wait! Easy, easy! I don’t need such a large amount!’ His eyes were bigger than tennis balls. Perhaps he thought I was a distant relative of a Middle-Eastern oil magnate. Later I understood his amazement, for I never saw or got a 100-euro note in the Netherlands after that.
Interestingly, when I changed my money in Moscow, a man standing near me had 5000 euros in 500-euro banknotes. What would have happened if I had given a 500-euro note to the bus driver? Maybe, he would immediately have fled the bus, run off and quit his job because he took me for a Russian drug baron. Anyway, it was fun.
Avazkhoja Akbarkhojaev, former exchange student from Uzbekistan, currently EP-Nuffic ambassador for Wageningen University in his home country
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NL: Grote flappen
Avazkhoja Akbarkhojaev kwam in Nederland aan met twee briefjes van 50 en drie briefjes van 100 euro op zak. Toen hij in bus 88 naar Wageningen een van de grote flappen tevoorschijn haalde om zijn kaartje mee te betalen, werden de ogen van de chauffeur zo groot als tennisballen. ‘Rustig aan, rustig aan!’, zei hij geschrokken. Later herinnerde Avaz zich dat er in het Moskouse wisselkantoor ook een man had gestaan met tien briefjes van 500 euro in zijn handen. ‘Wat zou er zijn gebeurd als ik zo’n briefje aan de chauffeur had gegeven?’