Demonetisation: She travelled 3,000km with just Rs 80 in her wallet | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Demonetisation: She travelled 3,000km with just Rs 80 in her wallet

On November 8 — the day the government scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes —Alka Kaushik, a Delhi-based travel blogger, checked her wallet and was worried. She just had just Rs 80 in usable cash.

delhi Updated: Nov 23, 2016 07:26 IST
Gulam Jeelani
Alka, on a tour to world heritage sites in south India with her 70-year-old mother, completed her 3,000km trip, as scheduled with Rs 80 still in her wallet.
Alka, on a tour to world heritage sites in south India with her 70-year-old mother, completed her 3,000km trip, as scheduled with Rs 80 still in her wallet.(Handout)

On November 8 — the day the government scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes —Alka Kaushik, a Delhi-based travel blogger, checked her wallet and was worried. She just had Rs 80 in usable cash.

But what followed, not only proved how far she can take a penny, it also gave her a firsthand glimpse of kindness shown by strangers.

Alka, on a tour to world heritage sites in south India with her 70-year-old mother, completed her 3,000km trip, as scheduled, hassle-free and reached home a week later with Rs 80 still in her wallet. While debit card managed hotel expenses, the travelling part, as she was not Paytm-friendly by then, was taken care of with the help of travel agent, K Ramu, who she had not even met before.

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Alka, 47, a resident of Vaishali in Ghaziabad, was travelling back towards Sindhanur town in Raichur district of Karnataka, after visiting Pattadakal and Badami cave temples (both UNESCO World Heritage sites), when her husband broke the demonetisation news to her. Unmindful of the cash crunch that followed, Alka and her mother checked into a hotel paying Rs 2,900 cash from the old currency that they carried.

After spending the next day (November 9) planning her journey ahead, Alka, contacted Sindhanur-based travel agent K Ramu who turned her saviour.

As Alka describes in her blog, Ramu, who was not well-versed with Hindi, told her: “Madam parwa nahi, aap bolo kidhar janeka hai? Main taxi donga aapko.. Parway nahi..(No need to worry madam. Just tell me where you want to go, I will book a cab for you).

On the night of November 10, when Alka and her mother returned to Sindhanur after visiting ancient temple ruins in Hampi, 75km away, their sole worry for their next day’s journey to Trichy in Tamil Nadi, 800km from Sindhanur.

“He (Ramu) had told me to swipe my card at a friend’s petrol pump from where he would collect cash later on. But we were concerned about the rest of the trip,” she says. She paid Rs 2,400 bill at the petrol pump.

While Alka, an avid traveller, prefers cashless transactions, her mother, Dr Rajni Joshi, a retired professor, is not savvy with digital transactions. The currency in Rs 1,000 notes that she carried was rendered useless after the demonetisation announcement.

Once again, Ramu came to their rescue promising to offer taxi services. And for payment, he suggested online payment, much to the delight of the mother-daughter duo.

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“It was unbelievable how someone who I had not even met before came with to the much-needed aid of strangers. He did not even ask who I was. Just gave me his account number. He charged us Rs 8 per km, which was normal,” she says.

For the next two days, they visited heritage sites in Trichy and Thanjavur before taking a flight to Chennai and then to Delhi on November 14.

“We reached home after a hassle free journey with Rs 80 in my wallet. I credited Rs 13,500 in Ramu’s account next day,” she says.

The total expense of the trip was Rs 50,000 (excluding travel from Delhi to Hyderbad on November 7).

“She was with her mother. So I could not but help her. I knew the money will not go anywhere,” says the travel agent Ramu.

For Alka and her mother, she says, the bonus of the trip was that they didn’t need to pay taxes at the ten toll plazas that they passed through in seven days.

“And on top of everything else, my mother has promised to get a card now,” she says.

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