Kerala globe-trotting tea vendor couple to restart travel as restrictions ease
After two years of Covid-19 pandemic-induced restrictions, Kerala’s tea vendor couple famous for their globe-trotting adventure is busy packing their bags again – this time to Russia.
They want to witness the anniversary of the October Revolution, in which the Bolshevik Party seized power in Russia in 1917.
KR Vijayan (71) and his wife Mohana (69) are well known, and many celebrities like industrialist Anand Mahindra, actors Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and writer-politician Shashi Tharoor have lauded them.
The couple has already put up a noticeat their tea stall, announcing the much-awaited trip because they don’t want to put their regular customers in the lurch from October 21 to 28. The Kongani couple’s first trip was to Israel in 2007 and has since visited 25 countries.
“In many Russian books (translated into Malayalam years ago due to the communist influence in the state), Volga river is a favourite theme. I am anxious enough to see the quiet flowing Volga,” said Vijayan, while preparing tea for his morning customers and his wife busy peeling coconut to make ‘Puttu,’ a cylindrical- shaped steamy breakfast made of rice powder. Their last trip was to Australia in 2019.
“Since our hotel remained closed most days for the past two years, this time I took a loan from the travel agency for tickets. Once I come back, I will pay ₹15,000 monthly and start saving for the next,” Vijayan said, adding after every trip, he turns wiser and stronger.
“It is often said to experience is the best teacher. Travel is the best experience that makes you richer. Travel is in my blood. First, I visited all religious and tourist places in the country and later turned global. I visited Lord Balaji temple more than 100 times,” he said.
He named his hotel in Gandhi Nagar, Kadavanthara, after his favourite deity, Sree Balaji Coffee House. “Look, money will come and go. But these memories will remain forever. Both of us will continue to travel as long as our health permits. After every trip, we feel younger. That keeps us ticking,” said wife Mohana.
Vijayan said he is happy that off late Indians have also started travelling in a big way like the westerners. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, 50 million Indians travelled abroad 2019, an increase from 23 million in 2017.
Vijayan said their two daughters and sons-in-law have always supported the couple’s undying passion for travel. After Russia, they have set their eyes on Japan. Amid this, the elderly couple has a wish. “We would like to meet Prime Minister Modi once. He has a humble origin and started his life as a tea seller. We admire him a lot,” they said, adding that they are ready to go to New Delhi for the visit.