Vijayan’s last journey: Kerala tea-seller who travelled the world with his wife dies

Vijayan, along with his wife Mohana, had visited 25 countries across six continents, with their journeys closely followed by their well-wishers and the media.
Vijayan and Mohana
Vijayan and Mohana
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Vijayan, 71, a tea seller from Ernakulam, who travelled across the globe with his wife Mohana passed away due to a cardiac arrest on November 19, Friday. "It was a cardiac arrest. He was admitted at the Sree Sudheendra Medical Mission in Kochi. He passed away an hour ago," Vijayan's grandson Manjunath told TNM.

In the past 14 years, the couple, who shot to fame for their love of travel, visited 25 countries across six continents. Last month, despite the coronavirus pandemic bringing the tourism industry to a near standstill, they visited Russia for a week in October. As was the practice, the tea shop was shut for the period, with a board declaring that they would be visiting the foreign country. None of the locals were surprised, and once again, their trip made it to the newspapers. In fact, Vijayan and Mohana’s travel diaries had always been of interest to the public, with each country they explored duly being reported in the media.

Vijayan and Mohana became famous for their globe-trotting adventures, funded by the income they earned by selling tea at the Balaji Tea Shop in Gandhinagar, near Kadavanthra, Ernakulam. The shop was set up 47 years ago, and when the money was not sufficient, they would take loans for their travel and repay them. Vijayan’s journeys began with his long trip in 1988 to the Himalayas.

People who heard their story were inspired by their wanderlust, and began contributing to help them travel more. In 2015, when the couple wanted to visit the United States, which they called their ‘dream destination’, contributions poured in from celebrities, including Anupam Kher, to help them raise an amount of Rs 3 lakh. Vijayan would tell people that Mohana and he got married in their 20s but could not go anywhere back then, so they decided to travel in their 60s.

A documentary titled Invisible Wings was made on them by Hari M Mohanan in 2015.

Sometimes their family would accompany the couple on their travels. On their trip to China, they went with their two daughters, sons-in-law and three grandchildren.

Vijayan did not believe in making long term plans. He liked to make his trips spontaneous. There would always be two tickets for him and her, he used to say.

As Vijayan makes his final journey, it is not only Mohana and his family who will mourn him but also legions of well-wishers who have followed the couple’s journeys thus far.

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