Globe-trotting tea seller Vijayan dreamed of visiting more foreign destinations

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Kochi: KR Vijayan, the tea seller who has visited 26 countries with his wife Mohana with her meager income, leaves behind a series of memories. Those who had visited his shop, the Balaji Coffee House in town, remember the couple placed a large globe there. Vijayan, who died on Friday at the age of 71, and Mohana have frequently toured the globe and planned their next trip.

Many customers arrived at the Salim Rajan Road store just to learn about the couple’s travels and were regaled with stories of their overseas trips by Vijayan.

The first trips
Vijayan’s very first trip was when he was a young boy from his birthplace Cherthala in the Alappuzha district of Kerala to Ernakulam with Rs 6.25 kept aside to pay his school fees. During his school years, Vijayan even ran away from home to visit Delhi and Haridwar.

After her marriage to Mohana, Vijayan once took her necklace apparently to pay off a loan and used it to finance a trip. Soon the couple began to travel together to various destinations in India.

Once, while resting after a pilgrimage to Tirupati in 2007, Vijayan saw a plane flying overhead and the idea of ​​a trip abroad occurred to him. Back home in Kochi, Vijayan noticed a television commercial while traveling to the Holy Land.


Trips abroad
Without delay, Vijayan booked this trip and he was able to enjoy a boat cruise on the Nile during New Years 2008. In fact, his first overseas trip took Vijayan to Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and in Israel.

Trips to the Gulf countries and Europe followed. Along with Mohana, Vijayan visited Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Vatican, among other countries. Among the memories of these trips, a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was dear to Vijayan.

Of all the countries he visited, Israel was Vijayan’s favorite place.

Finance your trips
Savings from her tea room aside, most of Vijayan’s trips were funded by loans from the Kathrikadavu branch of the State Bank of India and the Kadavanthra People’s Urban Society. Movie stars Amitabh Bachchan and Anupam Kher had contributed Rs 50,000 each for the couple’s trip to the United States in 2014. Anonymous supporters from Bengaluru also pooled Rs 2 lakh for the same trip.

In addition, Vijayan saved every rupee he received as payment to attend various events, for his travels.

Kerala chaiwala famous for his world tour with his deceased wife


Final destination
The last country visited by Vijayan was Russia. Along with Mohana, other family members also accompanied him on the trip, which took place in October this year following the relaxation of international travel restrictions linked to the global pandemic. “But, the father had been diagnosed with cancer and doubted whether to embark on another trip after the visit to Russia,” recalls Vijayan’s daughter, Sasikala.

Sasikala and Usha, the daughters of Vijayan, had joined their parents on several trips.

Even though he knew the cancer was setting in, Vijayan had planned the trip to Russia because he felt he was recovering.

In fact, just two days before flying to Russia, Vijayan told ‘Manorama Traveler’ magazine: “I want to travel to all my dream destinations, even in a wheelchair. Even though I was diagnosed with cancer eight months ago, it hasn’t affected my mind. I am delighted with the trip to Russia.

“If you have a dream and a motivation, anyone can travel abroad. That way I’m a millionaire, ”he added.

Tribute from NS Madhavan
Among those who expressed their condolences for Vijayan’s death was the famous writer NS Madhavan, who tweeted: “Vijayan served me tea and snacks two days a week. A world traveler, a travel storyteller, a young friend at heart, a tea seller who was a globetrotter is no more. He recently returned from Russia. He wanted to meet Vladimir Putin.


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