Riya, a native of Angamaly, Ernakulam, reached America two years ago. On the fourth day of landing in New York, Riya casually asked her beau Sanju, "Why don't we travel somewhere every week?"
Sanju agreed without even thinking twice. The weekend journeys which started then have now covered nine places in two months. They decided to upload the videos of these journeys over snow, across flowery meadows, and under the clouds. There was some uncertainty about naming the videos. After some days of pondering over it, they decided finally on 'Trip Couple.' The same videos were posted in Facebook too. The FB page was named 'Kaanthaa njaanum varaam' (Dear, I will also come with you). Their videos on these two platforms have become viral now.
Riya Tony studied in Chennai till 4th standard. After that she joined Vidyadhiraja Vidyabhavan in Angamaly. Riya had a classmate there named Sanju. They became good friends. After 10th, Sanju wanted to study engineering. Riya dreamt of doing MBA. Many years later when she landed a job with a bank, she went for a movie in Ernakulam. The film was 'Pranchiyettan and the Saint.' Sanju, by then working in America, had also come for the movie during his vacation. They met at the theatre. Riya settled in Sanju's heart faster than the 'Padmasree' award settled in Pranchiyettan's showcase. The days that followed were full of messages on Facebook from America to Angamaly.
Riya is the daughter of Tony Chettupuzha and Sherry. Haridas and Nirmala are the parents of Sanju. There were some minor obstacles in Sanju marrying Riya initially. But the respective parents decided to share the happiness of their kids and Riya and Sanju got married.
On the day after the wedding, an uncle gave Sanju a wedding gift-tickets to Maldives and an advice "Honeymoon is best celebrated in Maldives." Sanju and Riya crossed the ocean and reached Maldives. They spent a week there, celebrating with the waves. Their honeymoon was enriched by the moonlit seashores and the tranquillity of islands. Riya who had a passion for travel from the time she toured Thekkady as a child with her parents, now harboured even more ambitions on her future journeys.
As soon as Sanju reached America, he arranged a Visa for Riya. Riya reached Long Island in New York as an MBA student. The flashback ends here. Let Riya tell the rest of the story.
"I reached New York in the snowfall of December. It was a sprawling city with skyscrapers. The crowd was shoulder to shoulder. Everybody here was too busy to bother about anybody's business. It was a fast life. Sanju took me to our house in New Hyde Park, New York. I felt very happy and felt I had reached a wonderland.
On the first Sunday after reaching, we undertook a tour of the city. New York is a city of fashion and novelty. Wherever one turns the camera, the frame is spectacular. It was from the top of the Freedom Tower that I realized the vastness of the city. It would take months to cover all the nooks and corners.
New York has numerous sights to offer. Most of the regions and buildings are sightseeing destinations. The Time Square, Central Park, Museum of Arts, Botanical Garden, Ground Zero, Statue of Liberty, Rock Observatory Point… are just some of these tourist spots.
Road trips across America
Sanju is a software engineer working in Connecticut. He leaves at 8:30am and returns only by 5:00 pm. During this period, I tried to learn about America. That was when I started wanting to see the entire America. I suggested to Sanju to keep the Saturdays and Sundays for travel. It was Sanju who decided to travel by Jeep, like they show in the road movies.
The snow-clad boarder of Canada was the first long-distance destination. It was a place called Maine. I liked the Arcadia National Park the most there. The Sunrise in Maine is famous. It is a prolonged dawn there and the sights are a feast for the cameras. The terrain is hilly and mountainous. We travelled along the roads of Maine enjoying the snowfall that was as strong as rain. The Cape Elizabeth lighthouse is located here. We made full use of the money spent lapping up the sights of the valleys and the lighthouse.
Those who visit Maine must see the Vintage Car Show. It is a cross-section of the Classic era. It is another world with rows of Audi, Benz, Rolls Royce and Cadillac automobiles. The State of California too has such vintage car shows.
Keralites are aplenty in New Jersey. We travelled all around New Jersey. Most of the commercial establishments here are run by Malayalis. Malayalis could be seen walking around in dhotis. The main attraction in New Jersey is the Atlantic City. The Great Falls waterfall is another famous tourism spot. The Delaware Water Gap too attracts plenty of tourists.
When I hear Pennsylvania, I still shudder. We went there to see the mountain named 'The Pinnacle.' It is an half an hour’s trek to the top of the mountain. From about a kilometre and half up the mountain, we can enjoy the 360 degree view and the cameras get busy. The sun sets here only by 9pm or so. We stared climbing down after most of the tourists had already left. On the way down, Sanju pulled me back just when I was about to step on a stone. It was sheer luck that I did not step on a coiled snake by the stone.
We kept recording the video of the places we visited. We uploaded these videos on the YouTube for everyone's benefit. So far we have posted 19 videos on YouTube. You can see these typing 'Trip Couple.' We got a chance to show America to those who have not visited the place. It is one the biggest achievements in life.
San Francisco was our latest destination. By the time we went into a building and came back, our car was burgled. We lost the bag containing money and passports. We have applied for new passports. Such thefts are very common in America. We need to take extra care in our future journeys.
It is a 6 hour drive to cover Big Sur in California. Wide roads fringed with open lands and the speeding vehicles make the Big Sur journey different. In winter season, the climate here is like in Ooty. San Francisco is a city with beaches, mountains and cityscapes. It is a six hour journey by flight from New York. But the sights there will refresh the travel-weary tourists. There is a waterfall there. Most people end their tour here. We drove till the other end of the road.
Apart from the known tourism spots, we also covered little known regions. Such journeys helped us to film many American villages and towns.
We make sure to taste the special dishes of each place we visit. The tastiest among them are the dishes available in New York. There is a vegetarian dish named Falafel. Its main ingredients are rice, cutlets and sauces. It is of Afghan origin. Pineapple Pizza is another mouth-watering dish. Meals known as Columbian Meals is also special. A variety or rice and a curry with beans make up this dish.
The trip couple
The expatriates from India in America have a 40 year old history. The Malayali presence can be seen everywhere from White House to the street shops. There are many among them who have travelled to all the 51 states. I am a relatively new entrant to this group. I have already visited New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Canada, California and Pennsylvania within this short period. I consider this as a great achievement.
Covering eight states of America, we filmed our visits to the major tourism spots and uploaded these in the YouTube along with the descriptions. It was very encouraging to get good feedback on these. The desire to cover all the parts of the North American continent stems from here."