Tales from a Traveler: The Mallu Travel King

“My world was limited and so were my views
It ended as it began, and the lies I did chew,
The day I stepped out, I found what I sought,
The truth, the tales, beyond what I thought.”

Travelling opens up perspectives of the world that we never thought about. We start seeing events from a lens that was so unreachable a while ago and we feel elated at the dawn of this realization that the world is much bigger and we a small part of this extravagant planet. Here is a traveler sharing his stories to the eyes of the seeker.

In conversation with Arshad Azad, commonly known to the Instagram family as the Mallu Travel King. Here he shares his insights from his journeys and how a few months catapulted him to the limelight as a food vlogger.

When did you realize that you had a flair for travel and food vlogging?

It’s a universal law that every traveler will become a storyteller at some point of time in their lives. I have been traveling for the last 16 years. At some point in time, I decide to log my travel diaries on social media. That’s how I started posting videos on TikTok. Nearly about the same time, due to Corona, I was quarantined for almost 4 months in an extraordinary situation. That’s the time when I started to explore social media, and often venturing out to find new food and eventually to food vlogging, broadcasting my experiences to a wider audience.

As a traveler, the prowess of the local language may find to be pretty handy in knowing the local culture. What is your approach to this? Do you take the efforts to learn more languages for making your travels get more of an insider feeling?

Language is a barrier, but with all the advanced technologies – it’s minimal. Rather than listing out a place and traveling, I make videos of wherever I go, of whatever I see, of whatever I eat.  I haven’t learned any new language in the last 10 years. I speak Malayalam, English, Tamil, and Hindi. In other places, we use a translator … The good part is, we always have local support whenever we go out to explore. And I prefer to be like that whenever it is.

If I get a chance I would love to learn Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese.

Many of your posts feature bakeries and other retail chains. How do you explore these places?

That’s an interesting question, food was always a problem during my initial days of traveling. For me homely food is everything. Almost until the age of 23 have been an eggetarian. During the travels, I slowly started trying out meat, fish, etc. It took me some time, but I was able to change. Where ever we go, food is good, that’s why the native people eat that particular food. We as foreigners take time to adapt to that food, and otherwise, all food is good. I think it’s people who get adapted to the locally available resources like food.

Is there a particular event in your life as a vlogger that catapulted your growth?

A video with the famous Chef Burak Özdemir gave me a good reach, and also a couple of videos at Salt Bae’s restaurant. I believe that I have just started, and I have a long way to go. I strongly hold on to the fact that I definitely can do better.

With Chef Burak Özdemir

Your videos have an overwhelming response to social media. How do you interact with your fans?

I am blessed with a lot of good friends in real life and on social media. On social media, I reply to all the direct messages that come to me through Instagram and Facebook, But very little do I interact through the mobile number and WhatsApp. I believe whomever really wants to get in touch, will definitely get in touch, something or the other will lead them to you. People with less priority will move away.  

Travelling often opens up windows to the world from a different perspective. Is there a particular story or an event that happened in one of the travels that has influenced you strongly?

For me, I have plenty of stories, good memories of traveling. I remember a couple of my early journeys. The first time, with my college friends I went for a trip with the National Adventure Foundation. I met Wing Commander SKJ Nair. We flew Microlite with him. That trip inspired me and later I joined the Indian Air Force.

You have served in the Indian Air Force. How has the rigid training at the academy helped shape your personality?

Yes, that helped me more than anything. I completed the training from the Indian Air Force, but due to medical reasons, I had to leave the force. Personally and emotionally that was a huge loss for me, but imagine a young man of 22,  after completing training from Indian Air Force and looking for a job. I’m sure Air Force training has enhanced my skills and molded my attitude.

As evident from your posts, You venture out to explore adventurous things while you travel. Is there an experience that you would cherish for long from any of these adventures?

Adventure activities keep our minds engaged, they make you feel young. For me, at this age, I prefer to do something which will not affect the health and peace of my mind. But I love those experiences, risk, and daringness, and I yearn for that rush of adrenaline that comes along with trying out these.

Could you give us a glimpse of your other ventures? What are your plans for travel and food blogging?

I work in the oil and gas service industry. My designation is Operations Manager- Asia. I have worked in more than hundreds of refineries as a technical specialist. In fact, being a specialist in my job is what made me travel extensively. Traveling almost every day was difficult, but God had plans.  I also have plans to set up projects to improve the quality of domestic water in Kerala.

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