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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