Tea-ket to Ride: Kerala traveller, who funds his trips across India by selling the brew, now serves it to the underserved

Nidhin Maliyekkal is an avid traveller who funds his travel by selling tea on the way

author_img Aathira Haridas Published :  31st October 2021 01:42 PM   |   Published :   |  31st October 2021 01:42 PM

At first glance, he looks like a chaiwala on a bicycle. In a way he is. Nidhin Maliyekkal is an avid traveller who funds his travel by selling tea on the way. The 25-year-old man from Kerala’s Thrissur is mostly on the road pedalling from one place to another, seeing new places and ways of living, meeting new people, and learning about new cultures.

Currently, Maliyekkal is journeying through his home state for a purpose that goes beyond his passion. Recently, he offered tea to support the destitute in a Cheshire home in Thiruvananthapuram. It was his 25th birthday when he wanted to do something more than just serve his own need for travel. A large batch of flavoured tea brought smiles to hungry faces and contentment to Maliyekkal.

As he cycles through the length and breadth of the state, the college dropout doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. “This place is home. I don’t have to worry about food and water. There will always be somebody who will feed me. All I have to do is knock on their door,” he says.

Maliyekkal has plans to travel to foreign shores. “Before I start travelling abroad, I want to travel within India. What better place to start than God’s Own Country,” asks the wanderer, who has drawn up a list of 10 countries he wants to visit in the future. He intends to ride the same bicycle on the journeys and sells tea to make these trips happen. “I hope to add a few easy snacks to the list when I’m travelling abroad,” 
he says.

It all started on January 1, when Maliyekkal left home from Thrissur, on his brother’s bicycle. In four months, he had reached Kashmir. His only expense was food, which he met by selling tea. For 120 days, he pedalled across the country selling tea. “I always wanted to travel and I decided to take my brother’s bicycle since it was lying unused at home,” says Maliyekkal.

“Cycling helps you connect closely with people compared to other means of travel as it rewards you with sights and experiences you would often miss out. You can smile at a passerby and get one in return. Things such as these are an inspiration for me to pedal,”  he adds.

Why tea? Maliyekkal had once worked at a restaurant where he made and served the brew. “I thought why not make the most of the skills I had—which was to prepare really good tea and sell it to earn money so I could travel,” he shares. So he left home with `170, with a portable stove and teapot on his bicycle carrier, and set off on the road. 

The pandemic had begun to flare up. “Even though it was an uncertain time that made people weary of everything, they were still very accepting of me. They helped in whichever way they could,” he says. During this time, Maliyekkal would sell tea thrice a week, in the evening hours. Within two hours he would earn about `600, enough for him to continue his trip. He recalls once how his stove didn’t light on a windy beachside near Udupi, Karnataka. “People watching me formed a circle around me to cut out the wind. It was a beautiful gesture,” reminisces the young man.

Currently, while ticking destinations on his bucket list Maliyekkal has other aspirations too. “I want to be a part of movies. For that, one must observe and understand people which is what travel is helping me with,” he smiles. He also wants to climb Mount Everest. “It will all happen one day,” he says. 

There are always wheels within wheels.