From her very childhood, Molly Joy was fascinated with travelling the world. But born to a low income family in Thiruvankulam, Ernakulam, she couldn’t even afford to go for school trips. Her education came to a halt by Class 10.
She got married to Chithrapuzha native Joy, and in 1996, the couple set up a grocery shop to earn a living. Every now and then, they would go for small trips within South India, as Joy also shared Molly’s love for travelling.
“I always read the travelogues in magazines sold at our shop. It kept up my spirit for travelling and provided information about faraway places,” 61-year-old Molly tells The Better India.
Everything came to a standstill after Joy’s unexpected death in 2004. Their children, 20 and 18 at the time, were still studying. Molly looked after the shop alone in order to make ends meet. But once her son got a job abroad and daughter got married, she found more time for herself.
Before her first trip to Europe, Molly and her close friend Mary had travelled to several spots across South India, including Palani, Madurai, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Mysuru, and Kovalam. “It was Mary who first invited me for a foreign trip, that too to Europe. I was a bit concerned about the expense, but the desire to travel was above it. My son and daughter provided full support and asked me to use our savings money for the journey. I went ahead and took a passport to travel around Italy, France, Vatican, Switzerland and Germany within 15 days,” she says.
Among the elderly couples from different states, Molly stood alone as a single woman. “I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and made new friends. That’s the best part of any trip. My little knowledge in English also helped during the journey,” says Molly, who has saved Rs 10 lakh and travelled across 11 countries in the last ten years.
Travelling and work goes hand-in-hand
After the first trip in 2012, which incurred an expense of Rs 1.5 lakh, Molly took a break from travelling in order to accumulate money for the next one. “I opened the shop on weekends and holidays to earn extra income. Additionally, I take part in chit funds and sometimes pawn gold for money, all of which are settled after the trip,” says Molly.
For her next journey in 2017, she travelled to Malaysia and Singapore. The following year, she visited North India. “There are many states in India I’m yet to cover, like Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. I’m planning to cover these small distances in between the breaks of foreign trips,” she adds.
Molly’s favourite trip took place in 2019, when she went to Europe for the second time. This time, however, she visited London, as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and France. “We went for an Amsterdam to Rome luxury cruise trip, which was the best experience I ever had,” gushes Molly. “I feel I will never get enough of that journey and wish to go for another round of trip around Europe.”
The pandemic induced lockdown and restrictions in international travel gave her another break from the trips. But she utilised the time saving up for her next one, which was to the US in November, last year. She visited New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey within 15 days.
“The mesmerising Niagara Falls and Universal Studio in Las Vegas were the finest spots I visited. But the expenses were more than I expected, so I have had to halt my travel for some time now,” Molly says.
She recalls, “When I was in school, my parents were not able to send me for field trips due to lack of money. Even though I still don’t have a great income, I spent what I earn for something that makes me the happiest.”
In all her trips, Molly is among the most active participants. While most elderly people stay away from adventurous activities, Molly goes ahead and indulges in them all. “Travel gives me an amazing sense of freedom, courage and exposure. After every trip, instead of feeling exhausted, I feel reborn. I impatiently wait for the next journey. I have an album full of photographs of my favourite co-travellers and we keep in touch through a WhatsApp group,” Molly says joyfully.
When asked about her upcoming destination, Molly says that she is going to focus a little more on unexplored Indian states this year. “This is also because of financial constraints, but it’s never going to stop me from travelling. I will travel till my death,” she says.
Photo Credits: Kaumudy, Onmanorama.
Edited by Divya Sethu