Molly Joy, who never went on excursions during her school days, has traversed 11 countries in the past 10 years with the income from a modest neighbourhood grocery shop. Molly, who hails from Chitrapuzha in Irumpanam in Ernakulam district, had spent Rs 10 lakh on her foreign jaunts. “When I was in school, my parents didn’t have enough money to send me on tours. Not that I have lot of money now, but my intense desire to travel and see the world brought money from nowhere,” she says. Interestingly, Molly’s first tour was in 2012 at the age of 51 and later many tours followed. Though she was born in Thiruvankulam, Chitrapuzha became her home after marrying Joy.
Molly hit the road for the first time with her neighbours. The nearby residents invited her for a trip outside Kerala but she was in a quandary as there was no one to open the shop when she would be away as her son was working abroad and her daughter was married off. She finally decided to go on a tour with her neighbours and that opened a new chapter in her life.
Initially, she went to places such as Palani, Madurai, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Mysuru and Kovalam, among others. The thought of going on an overseas tour forced her to take a passport in 2010 and she boarded a flight in 2012 to embark on her maiden journey to a foreign country.
The grocery shop was opened by her husband 26 years ago and the ‘newgen’ term it the ‘Lulu Mall’ of the locality as you could buy almost everything that a household needs from this neighbourhood shop. As Molly’s husband was a causal labourer, the onus of running the shop was on her. Joy died 18 years ago when their son and daughter were 20 years old and 18 years old respectively. After the death of her husband, her only source of income was her grocery outlet. After her son got employment abroad and her daughter got married, Molly had more money in her hand and with that money she went for tours with the neighbours. And when her immediate neighbour Mary, who is a retired teacher, asked Molly whether she was coming for a foreign trip, she replied in the affirmative.
First trip was to Europe
Molly’s first foreign tour was with the tour company ‘Royal Omania’ and it was a 10-day trip to Europe. “I thoroughly enjoyed my first flight journey and after visiting places that I never thought I would visit, I realized how vast the world was,” says Molly who chalks out all her travel plans. She never discusses her travel plans with her son and daughter though they support her to the hilt.
After the tour of Europe, Mary asked Molly if she was joining her for a journey to Singapore and Malaysia. The latter declined the offer as she had pain in her leg. Later, Molly travelled to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other north Indian states with the help of the same tour company.
The next on Molly’s itinerary was a 15-day trip to the UK and incidentally her favourite destination is London. The voyage aboard a cruise liner from Amsterdam in Netherlands to Rome in Italy was quite memorable for Molly. Last November, she went to the US for 15 days and made a whirlwind tour of New York, Washington, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Seeing the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls was an overwhelming experience for 61-year-old Molly.
Travel magazines gave the spark
Molly came to know about various foreign countries after reading the ‘Vanitha’ periodical and travel magazines that were sold at her shop. After reading many travelogues, she took a firm decision that she would also traverse the world but didn’t know how to realize her travel dreams. Later, she proved that one could enjoy the beautiful vistas of the world even with meager earnings. She came to know about globetrotting tea-seller couple Vijayan and Mohana after she herself had undertaken many foreign journeys. Molly got the news about Vijayan’s death while she was in the US, and she remembers taking a photo with Mohana during the silver jubilee celebrations of Soman’s Tour Agency. She goes on foreign trips with different tour companies and she vouches for the fact that it is safe to travel with the support and guidance of travel agencies.
Molly’s formal education ended at Class X and she has no regrets over not studying further. But Molly always longed for a better knowledge of English while travelling. “If I had studied hard and got a job then I could be forced to shelve my travel dreams due to work pressure. Now I can manage my shop in my own way and hit the road whenever I want,” notes Molly.
Molly foots her travel bills from the income generated from the grocery shop. Though Molly never takes out a loan, she sometimes pawns her gold jewellery to the meet the travel expenses. But she will clear all the debts from the earnings from the shop. She is also able to save substantial money from the shop’s income.
As Molly doesn’t have the habit of splurging while travelling, she is always able to chalk out a perfect financial plan for her escapades. She only buys chocolates for children.
Journey to continue
Molly had to shell out Rs 10 lakh for the journeys she had undertaken so far. Though presently she doesn’t have enough money for a foreign tour, there are many unfulfilled dreams. “I have heard of sponsors and if any one comes forward, I am ready for it. But before that I have to visit many sought-after destinations in Kerala,” she says. She wants to go on a boat ride on the placid backwaters of Alappuzha and also visit Kollam and Wayanad. Another attraction of travelling in Kerala is that it is inexpensive, says Molly.