Kerala chaiwallah, a globe-trotter, passes away due to cardiac arrest

The energetic couple, Vijayan and Mohana, visited 25 countries in the last 15 years or so, including Russia two months back amidst pandemic fears

Vijayan said in an interview some time back that he married Mohana at a very young age and back then did not get a chance to go anywhere for pleasure. So, in his 60s he wanted the two to explore the world.

A tea seller from Kerala, 71-year-old Vijayan, who made news for travelling across the globe with his wife, died of cardiac arrest at a hospital in Kochi on Friday (November 19).

The energetic couple, Vijayan and Mohana, had visited 25 countries in the last 15 years or so, including Russia two months back amidst pandemic fears. In fact, their plan for Russia was made in 2019, much before the pandemic began. In Vijayan’s own words, “Visits to countries like Russia and Japan would tell us more about these how these once superpowers appear now.”

Vijayan said in an interview some time back that he married Mohana at a very young age and back then did not get a chance to go anywhere for pleasure. So, in his 60s he wanted the two to explore the world. Though the two realised their dream of globe-trotting very late, their zeal for exploring different lands, knowing about varied cultures and experiencing different cuisines despite advancing age and limited income made them stand out in the crowd.

The couple’s each and every visit abroad has been widely reported in media so far. Patrons visiting 50-year-old Balaji Tea Shop in Gandhinagar, Ernakulam, would know Vijayan and Mohana have left for a foreign land if they saw the shop closed with a board declaring their destination of visit.

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Their passion for travel soon received international recognition and at times got funding from celebrities and common people as well.

Vijayan and Mohana’s long distance travel began with a visit to the Himalayas in 1988. Since then they have been very vocal about their experiences of visiting distant places, which kindled people’s interest in their journeys.

In 2015, when they expressed their desire to visit the United States, their ‘dream destination’, celebrities like Anupam Kher contributed and helped them raise Rs 3 lakh.

In 2019, industrialist Anand Mahindra gave funds for their visit to Australia.

Not that the two were dependent on others to fund their visits to faraway land. They would work alone at their teashop, saving money and setting apart Rs 300 daily to meet the travelling expenses. If nothing else worked, they would take loans and duly repay by working harder on return.

Hari M Mohanan made a documentary titled ‘Invisible Wings’ portraying the couple’s love for travel.

Vijayan was a happy go lucky man, who believed in living in the present. Most of these trip plans were made on a very short notice. “No matter when and where we want to go, there are two tickets for us available all the time,” Vijayan once said.

On this last journey though, Vijayan left alone leaving his travel partner Mohana and several other followers to mourn his loss.

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