Many of us dream of travelling the world, but not everyone has the guts to follow through on this passion with zeal. And, then there’s Vijayan and Mohana – a Kochi based couple in their early 70s – who have been travelling the world with undying enthusiasm despite harsh financial conditions. The vegetarian owners of Sree Balajee Coffee House, which is the only source of their meagre income, Vijayan and Mohana have left the entire world marvelling at their ability to have travelled to 23 countries through a combination of saving up Rs. 300 every day and taking up bank loans. They might just be the most famous tea sellers in the country after Narendra Modi!
#YOLO. #TravelGoals. #DreamBig. Vijayan and Mohana are truly the living example of every millenial aspirational hashtag.
When asked how they decided to focus so much on travelling above other things, Vijayan reveals, “It is the passion that drives. I am born in the land of India, and there are so many other countries with different cultures. I wanted to explore them all.” While there have been others who have expressed concern that they should also save up for healthcare, Vijayan has complete faith in the Universe. “I just care about travelling,” he says. “Rest God will take care of me and my family.”
Their tea shop, which has many photographs of countries they have visited, maps and newspaper cuttings of their story, is usually shut when they travel. Britain. France. Europe. Egypt. USA. UAE. South Africa. Brazil. Peru. Argentina. This incredible couple has explored it all, together! Life has changed quite a bit, though, ever since their story caught the attention of plenty of journalists, as well as filmmaker Hari M. Mohanan whose Filmfare Award-winning short documentary “Invisible Wings” showcases their unique journey.
“Now people sponsor,” reveals Vijayan. “Amitabh Bachchan has given Rs. 50,000. Anupam Kher has given Rs. 50,000 Fans from Bengaluru have given from 3-6 lakhs.” Needless to say, this has made travel-budgeting easier than before. But, the fame has left Vijayan unchanged. “I am what I am. I live a simple living, wearing a shirt and mundu. Although, I do have a few coats and pants that I use when I am travelling or meeting anyone.”
Vijayan shared his observation about life in India compared to abroad. “In India, I see people doing public urination, public spitting and irritating nature. When I visited other countries, I saw they respect their land.” He immediately adds, “Indians need to respect the country.”
“I choose destinations via travel portals,” Vijayan explains. So which country has caught his fancy now? “Japan,” he immediately replies.
One of the constraints Vijayan and Mohana face while travelling is language. But, their tour guides try to help them understand things. This explains Vijayan’s advice for youngsters – “Learn different languages – then you will possess the encouraging power with which you can capture the world… Live to eat, sleep and travel. “And, his advice for other senior citizens is pretty straightforward. “All have lived in the city – go and explore the world. Get out of the bed and move!”
Sree Balajee Coffee House is located at Salim Rajan Rd, Gandhi Nagar, Elamkulam, Ernakulam, Kerala 682020.