Adventures of Annakutty: 95-yr-old world-travelling Ammachi smashes stereotypes

From Italy and Germany to Israel and UAE, this great grandmother from Kerala has been bitten by the travel bug.
Adventures of Annakutty: 95-yr-old world-travelling Ammachi smashes stereotypes
Adventures of Annakutty: 95-yr-old world-travelling Ammachi smashes stereotypes

If you think you are too weak or old to venture out of your house, think again!

Meet Annakutty Simon from a picturesque village in central Kerala, who is ready to cross the border once again even at the age of 95, all by herself. 

The nonagenarian settled in Kuninji village in Idukki district prefers travelling alone despite having enough and more companions to travel with. Her immediate family members alone round up to around 70 people, this including her children, grandchildren and great grand kids.  

Language for Annakutty has been no bar in her travels although she speaks only Malayalam.

“Wherever I go, I speak only Malayalam as I know just that. Still I have never had any major communication problem abroad. Those whom I ask my doubts in Malayalam clear them in their language, but by God’s grace I get my answers,” quips Annakutty, who ventured out of India for the first time at the age of 75.

Annakutty, a widow for the past 50 years, has visited Italy, Germany, Israel, France and the UAE (four times). She also hopes to make one more trip to Calvary near Jerusalem. But visa officials appear not so keen on allowing her to travel, citing her age.

However, ‘Ammachi’ (Grandmother in Malayalam), as fondly called by her near and dear, is confident of going on a solo trip, proudly declaring that she feels fit and healthy. Unlike many people her age, Annakutty claims she doesn’t suffer from diabetes, bloody pressure, cholesterol or even memory loss. 

“Why don’t they understand I am still young at my heart? I still can go anywhere myself,” she says. 

The great grandmother to 20 children also refuses to swap her traditional ‘chatta and mundu’ for western wear, no matter if she’s in Idukki or France. She also proudly wears her trademark ‘thoda’ in her ears everywhere she goes.    

Her maiden foreign visit was to Germany in 1997 when she was 75-years-old. Annakutty says she never felt afraid even when she boarded the flight for the first time in her life from Thiruvananthapuram and instead, it was her children who were worried.

Although the journey, via Sri Lanka and Dubai, was not at all an easy one for her, Annakutty with only a lower primary education managed to reach Germany safe and sound. 

Hailing from Kanamkombil family of Kadanadu in Kottayam, Annakutty, the tenth child to her parents, Anna and Mathai, got married to Pendanathu Simon at the age of 14 in 1936. The couple had four sons and as many daughters. However, Annakutty and her husband also brought up their elder son’s best friend. The boy had lost his parents at an early age.

Among her 12 siblings, only her younger sister Mariyakutty, settled in Kozhikode, is alive now. Annakutty visits her even now. 

But traveling is not Annakutty’s only passion. She is good at farming, nursing and was also a midwife, says her grandchild Reneesh.

“It is Ammachi, who oversees our farms and fields. She is also always the chief cook in the kitchen. When it comes to nursing, she has some magical ‘Ottamooli’s (single ingredient medication) for common childhood illnesses,” he points out. Reneesh also explains that Annakutty used to do work as a midwife for women belonging to poor families, who could not afford hospital expenses.

“It is Ammachi who takes the initiative for all good ventures in our locality, be it road construction or seed sowing in any filed,” he adds.

And that’s not all. The adventurous Annakutty has also acted in the recent Malayalam movie Aby. “I haven’t acted, I can’t act. I just behaved as in real life,” she shyly confesses. 

So, what is the secret of Annakutty’s energy? “I don’t sit idle. I do something or the other all the time so that no negativity can hold me back,” she says. 

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