Call it a demonetisation pain eased by a fine example of hospitality in the God’s Own Country. A 40-year-old foreigner ate at a restaurant here and didn’t pay because he was cashless. He was caught but let off because the eatery staff realised their guest had no other option.
Khader Kunju, who has owned a restaurant here since 1989, said the incident occurred on Friday at the eatery near his joint. The tourist had asked if the restaurant accepted credit cards before ordering food but was told the facility wasn’t available.
But he still ‘went and had lunch and after washing his hands, he ran away’, Kunju said.
“He was caught by the hotel staff, but let off when he said he has money but there was no way he could withdraw it as the ATMs did not have cash.”
Kunju said it was not a one-off incident of inconvenience faced by foreigners in Kerala after the central government announced on November 8 that it was spiking the country’s 86% -- Rs 500 and 1,000 notes -- of all currency in circulation.
He said he also faced “similar situation as many of my clients are foreign tourists”.
The restaurant owner narrated an incident how a group of French tourists -- four men and four women -- walked into his eatery and said they were very hungry and wanted to eat but had no cash.
“They said they have credit cards, but since I don’t have swiping machine, I told them they can have food and pay later.”
However, the generosity came with a cost.
“Their total bill was Rs 1,600. A few days later the women came and paid their amount, but the men slipped away and have not paid as yet.”
Kunju said he had never in his lifetime seen a situation like this.
Koshy John, a tour guide, said he had a group of foreign tourists who landed on the day the demonetisation was announced.
“The announcement proved a nightmare,” John said. He said his guests had exchanged their currencies hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement.
And most of the time his guests spend “waiting in queues at banks”.
“They left disappointed,” said John, adding there has been a drop in the number of foreign tourist arrivals.