New Delhi to Mukteshwar, Nainital district, Uttarakhand
“Fool on the hill”—no, that’s not a reference to Samit Sinha, 45, founder and managing partner, Brand Alchemist, or his plans to move to Mukteshwar, but the name of his would-be home and music cafe in the hills near the Himalayan Village resort, Sonapani.
Sinha had been looking to buy a property in the hills for a long time and even invested in a project called Himalayan Heights in 2005. “Thankfully, I made a site visit before I put down all the money and the moment I saw the place, I knew it was a Sarita Vihar (a boxy, flat-on-flat DDA colony in New Delhi) in the hills. I cancelled the deal then and there.” He was staying at Sonapani during this visit and got talking to a local landowner who owned a plot which was about a 25-minute walk from the estate. “I told him I wanted to buy land in Kumaon and he offered me his place. I paid him token money immediately.”
Sinha took possession of the land recently and will start building his house-cum-cafe by October 2007.
As an advertising professional, Sinha (he is ex-chief operating officer, Mudra Advertising), says that while he would love to live in the hills right away, this move for him is not a retirement plan. “I want to continue my business and that’s why I have to wait till things at work in New Delhi reach a point where I am not needed around constantly to manage things on a daily basis.”
According to him, the big issue that professionals like him face while planning a move outside a metro is answering the question: “What will I do there?” Sinha grappled with this question for a while and it was only when he figured out how he could continue his work that he set a deadline for the move.
In Mumbai, and ‘still looking’
When software program manager, Samuel Jacob, 40, moved to Bangalore from Mumbai in 2000, he thought he would finally be in a place where “my life would not be ruled by train and bus schedules.” Unfortunately for him, Bangalore was in the process of growing into an IT hub. “For the last couple years, city living has been getting to me. I wanted a simpler lifestyle and that’s when I realized farming might be the right option.”
Jacob was exposed to farming as a child when he visited uncles and relatives in Kerala’s rubber plantations. He quit his job with Yahoo.com in December 2006 and for the last eight months has been scouting around the countryside to buy farm land. “Though I know I will be most comfortable in Maharashtra, the land prices there have gone through the roof. Since farming will be my bread and butter, I cannot afford to enter this profession by buying land at a very high price.” Currently, Jacob is exploring options in Tamil Nadu. To prepare himself, he did a short-term course in agroecology from University of California US, and had earlier done a course in organic farming through an NGO in New Delhi. “I know for a city-bred person like me, acceptance by the rural community will be difficult. And as a bachelor, I will face more obstacles, but I am prepared to handle these because I know I will be happier in a village than I have been in the city.”
New Delhi to Guwahati
It has been six long years for Kaushik Deka. The 28-year-old moved from Guwahati to New Delhi to pursue a mass communications course at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. “I came to a metro such as New Delhi because I knew it would be a better place to begin my career. The salary and exposure in a metro are much better than in a smaller town.” However, Deka, who works on the copy desk of India Today, was clear from day one that eventually he would move back to Assam, where life is certainly more relaxed. “In New Delhi, I have lesser time to concentrate on my career and spend more struggling to manage day-to-day living. Back home, it will be easier and since I know people out there, more opportunities will come my way, especially since I have work experience in a metro. Also, my parents are getting older and I want to be around for them.”
Deka’s wife, Ritu Garg, is an architect, and the duo feel that with the construction business all set to boom in Guwahati, the city will offer a better career opportunity for her as well. “She can start her own consultancy, which is not an option in New Delhi.”
Sure, Deka says he will miss the comforts a big city offers such as better banking facilities, wider and cleaner roads, swanky cinemas, faster phone connections, better work ethic—but a more relaxed pace of life and peace of mind are greater pulls for him. “I am giving myself another two years in New Delhi and, by the time I hit 30, I am going to be back in Assam.”