Peon also added that Mr Ilya was overjoyed when he got the Rs 100 notes and shook hands vigorously with MTDC staff members in appreciation.
Mumbai: When Russian tourist Cheremisin Ilya landed in India last Tuesday — the fateful day that old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were demonetised — he exchanged Rs 70,000 in rubles and took Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in its place on the afternoon of November 8. Mr Ilya then found himself in trouble shortly afterwards,once Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement about the ban, since there was no one around willing to help him get legal tender, until the Maharashtra Toursim Development Corporation (MTDC) stepped in.
A frustrated Mr Ilya had approached the MTDC office, where a department peon, Balu Darade, put him out of his misery. This peon, with his own money, helped the tourists exchange some of the defunct notes. As if on cue, several others among the MTDC staff chipped in to help as well.
An MTDC staffer said that they had helped not only Mr Ilya, but other foreigners as well who have been facing problems due to their lack of awareness about the Centre’s demonetisation decision. “Some of them were unaware about the government’s decision and its intricacies. They also faced a problem exchanging currency since, with both banks and ATMs being shut, there was a shortage of Rs 100 notes,” said the staffer, who requested anonymity.
Mr Darade, on his part, said: “I was on duty when this Russian citizen approached us. He was shouting and frustrated, and sounded uneasy.”
He added: “Mr Ilya told me that he hadn’t had food and his kid was hungry as well. He also said that no one is ready to exchange or take his money.”
The peon also added that Mr Ilya was overjoyed when he got the Rs 100 notes and shook hands vigorously with MTDC staff members in appreciation.
Satish Soni, joint director, MTDC, told The Asian Age, “We follow the motto ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ (a guest is like god), and so it was our duty to help him.”
He added: “Kr Ilya later went to Goa as per his schedule. But he had been totally helpless when it came to commuting and spending money after the ban, till we finally managed to bail him out with whatever we had in our drawers.”