Around the world: Diary of a prodigious woman traveller

I know someone who has had 18 passports. Who has travelled 180 countries. Solo. As a woman. Over five decades. I am talking about one of our country’s most prodigious and brave travelers, a woman called Meher Heroyce Moos.

And here is a bit of her story, in her words.

Article by Mallika Sarabhai | Just Speaking DNA India

Travel seems to have been in my blood. I grew up hearing about my paternal grandfather Bomanshaw Dinshaw Moos’ travels to South Africa, along with Mahatma Gandhi during those harsh days of Apartheid. His British passport opened out into a large single sheet, and not with pages like today.

I listened to him telling me, a girl of 7 or 8, about his travels to Australia to import dry fruits and sundry items, and to London and Europe for pleasure.

meher_moosAnd then my father, Heroyce Bomanshaw Moos, whetted my appetite even more with his Shanghai sailing stories (like most Parsees) to study trading; his longish spell in Kabul, Afghanistan, to work with his maternal uncle, the well known Rustomji Ardeshir Dubash. Dubash was a close friend of the then ruler, King Zahir Shah, whom he served as Chief Agent of Imports & Exports – living in a bungalow on the Royal property.

And here began Dad’s tales of adventure -of driving from Peshawar through the Khyber Pass, across bandit-infested ranges to finally reach Kabul.

Brought up in this atmosphere, surrounded by editions of the Bible and maps, books on world history, the wars, English literature, poetry, world mythology, art and more, I longed to see for myself this wonderful world.

When I joined Air India as an Air Hostess in August 1965, a month after my BA (Hon) results were declared, I had already planned my first holiday. To ensure the best results, every single trip to London saw me at the British Museum and several libraries soaking in facts.

I visited the birthplaces and graves of all my favourite poets, dramatists, authors, essayists across England and Scotland. The next trip saw the land and sea battles of the Persians and the Greeks with plenty of mythological sites…. and so it continued.

Every passing year my travel plans became more adventurous and took me to the remotest corners of the world. The more inaccessible the country, the more I longed for it – Antarctica, the vast Scandinavian Arctic, a remote 3-day cruise on the Sepik River of Papua New Guinea, and its nearby islands, the dragon infested island of Komodo, Melanasia, the Polynesian islands, from Vanuatu to Samoa, Tonga and the Strange Gods of Easter Island where I stayed with one of Thor Hydel’s sailor on the Kon Tiki; the Silk Route of Marco Polo through Central Asia and Mongolia and the yurts of the Gobi Desert; Siberia and Lake Baikal; most of the big rivers of Africa, Timbuktu in the Sahara desert staying with the Tuaregs; a cruise on the Amazon – both at Iquitos in Peru and at Manaus in Brazil; the Andes of South America; Machu Pichu; across Lake Titicaca in old coal powered steamers; Patagonia and Bareloche; and a few of my other favourite countries – Yeman ( criss-crossed all across it), Myanmaar especially the Pagoda dotted Pagan, all places connected with the Old Testament in Israel Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. I travelled all across the erstwhile USSR – falling in love eternally with St Petersberg”.

I chatted with her yesterday, this high adrenalin, super charged 70-year old and she bubbled on about her next three month trip to Alaska, to mountains above Alaska, of going to all the national parks. Not missing a breath she said, “and then I will come and see you in Ahmedabad, when it is less hot”. Bless you Meher, for your energy, for your courage, and for inspiring so many of us to get the wanderlust and away from laziness.

Published Date:  May 24, 2015