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The trend is driving a transformation in India's small towns (Bloomberg)
The trend is driving a transformation in India's small towns (Bloomberg)

White-collar workers take their urban lifestyle to the village

Many professionals are taking a slice of their city life to remote corners, including their food habits and work environments

The semi-urban and rural landscape is witnessing a gradual transformation with the influx of white-collar workers, as India Inc. is warming up to the work-from-home culture.

When Naman Arora went home to Sikandra, a suburb of Agra in Uttar Pradesh, he did not want to let go off his urban lifestyle. Arora, a software engineer working for an American MNC in Bengaluru, was given a special allowance of $300 to work from anywhere when covid-19 struck.

He spent the money to refurbish the dining space at his Sikandra home to set up his workstation. He had the pipes, ducts and ceilings wrapped up in acoustic barrier insulation, like the soundproof walls at his office, besides setting up a giant smart TV, like the one in the office conference room. He also bought a coffee machine, like the one in office.

“I am a coffee addict. If you have to work at home and if you don’t get that caffeine shot, efficiency does not reach the 100% mark," said Arora. “I can’t do much about what Sikandra has to offer, but I can definitely do what I can for myself at home."

Arora is not alone. Scores of professionals are taking a slice of their city life to remote corners of India, including their food habits and lifestyle needs, work environments and high-speed broadband connections, more so as employers have informed them that the big-city offices will not fully reopen at least until next year.

“In the ‘world is flat’ era, Boston and Bangalore were flat earth, but not Bangalore and Bidadi as internal India was not equally accessible," said Nandan Nilekani in an earlier interview to Mint. “However, given that India’s growth will have to come largely from domestic economic activity, especially from services, reducing the friction between states and people of different languages is the need of the hour, and we may be halfway on that journey."

Sreejith K., who moved from Bengaluru to Cheruvathur, a small town in Kerala’s Kasaragod, said, “The gentrification is added by the new-found portability of certain comforts." He got two broadband connections at his home for uninterrupted access, a rarity in a village where most people use limited cell phone data.

However, the shift to smaller towns has not been easy for all. Vishnupriya Pothuval, an IT professional who returned from Chennai to Payyanur in Kerala’s Kannur, struggles to keep up with the village life, without much freedom. “I like to walk alone after evening. Now, I have to walk inside the house," she said.

“I used to wear cozy, comfortable clothes in Chennai. However, in my hometown, it is different. All my knee-length tops, shorts had to be changed. I had to buy new clothes online," she added.

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