All our lives we have been brought up with the same idea- climb the social ladder. And what does the social ladder entail? Move to a bigger city. Live a busy life. Network connectivity and midnight delivery of food became the hallmarks of a “good life”. But no one ever warned us of the pressures of living the city life. The constant buzz of mundane notifications, the traffic that bellows from dawn to midnight and the grime that covers our food and soul. If migration was the phenomenon that gripped the industry- migration from small towns to urban cosmopolitans, today we see an interesting shift in this dynamic. No longer are a mall and park in the block, the indexes of happiness. Reverse migration is a growing trend that returns to small towns to enjoy pristine air and water that mark a better quality of life. No longer are people squirming after the humdrum of the city and glass towers. Nay, an independent life that is surrounded with compassion, organic beauty and sustainable relations with the environment is the new “good life.” Today we have people from a cross section of disciplines who have taken the plunge out of their own volition and remind us to prioritize happiness over everything else.

For Anuradha Goyal, the decision was natural and pre planned. Having worked in the IT sector for 12 years, it was time for a change. And she has never regretted that decision, “ I have worked with Governments, NGOs, Businesses across the verticals and across geographies. Life was easy when I was part of some of the big brands like Coca-Cola and Infosys, but it is quite an experience to make a brand out of yourself and stand in the world on the strength of just your own name.” Currently living in Panaji, Goa, after having lived in 14 other places in India and abroad, she tells us how living in the small city can be a blessing and a pain sometimes. While internet access is difficult at times- which makes work hard, the over all living experience is serene and unparalleled.

We have clean water, clean air and abundant nature all around me. People here are not commercially driven like the urban centers. The world loves to come to Goa. It remains culturally active throughout the year with events like film festivals, musical events, literature festivals and loads of art display. I do not think there was a moment when I regretted being here.”

Anuradha's morning at Divar Islands

Anuradha’s morning at Divar Islands

As someone who has been in the travel blogosphere for a long time now, she has some key insights into the changes that travel has undergone. Travel these days, she insists has become shallow due to our continuous need for self gratification on social media. We no longer travel to collect memories but rather to collect photos. Nevertheless, she hopes it’s a phase that will soon wash over and travel bloggers can take a big step towards that positive shift because a lot of people are aware of the potential of our country. “Lot of UNESCO World heritage sites of India are absolutely underrated. Places like Pattadakal – hardly anyone goes there – it is like a lesson in temple architecture of both North Indian and South Indian style.  Places like Sunderabns or even Bhimbetka – all of them so unique in their heritage value are hardly visited or hardly on Itch Lists of people.” Having traversed a large section of the sub continents, she now hopes to scratch off ancient cultures of Egypt, Cambodia, Greece and Italy. And reminds us that “All great men and women were great travelers.

For Medhavi Davda too, reverse migration has been a step that heals and fulfills life without any superficiality. As someone with unquestionable wanderlust and a zest for adventure, she has taken up High-Altitude Trekking, Solo Backpacking, Advanced Adventure SCUBA Diver certification, trained in various dance forms like Tango, Bachata, Salsa, Waltz, Jazz, Cha Cha Cha and holds the title of Corporate Badminton Champion of Pune for 5 years! But corporate life could not comprehend her love for travel and adventure and soon she made the decision to take things into her own hands.

In my last project at IBM, I was forced to work irregular hours, spending maddening hours on calls resolving technical issues and ordering food from outside. I started losing out on my healthy lifestyle that I have always tried to maintain, since forever. Additionally, I was forced to cancel my approved leaves for a planned trek due to reasons which principally were against my mindset. This was the last nail in the coffin!”

reverse migration

View from Medhavi’s terrace in Bir

After celebrating her Birthday in the Andaman Islands, diving with the sharks, she returned and submitted her resignation with IBM. Since then she has never looked back and the healthy lifestyle of Bir, Himachal Pradesh has made her happier than any paycheck ever could. I started with Himachal Pradesh and destiny helped me find my abode in Bir, a quaint little place in Dhauladhar range. It is famous as Asia’s best paragliding site, not a tourist destination, yet developed just enough to cater to the very basic needs. All I wanted was fresh air to breathe, fresh food to eat, a healthy lifestyle and a lot of adventures. I’m here, in Himalayas – what I call my home, trying to figure out a way to continue living in the mountains.” The only thing she will miss about her city life in Pune is the badminton court and cheesecakes! Take that folks who swear by the metropolitan life 😀 Follow her iincredible adventure on the Chadar Trek where she fell into the frozen river!

The winding road to Medhavi's house

The winding road to Medhavi’s house

This is how her Itch List now looks like:

  1. Live in Himalayas
  2. Jog in the mountains every morning
  3. Eat organic food regularly
  4. Paraglide in Asia’s best site
  5. Trek extensively to get fit to climb Cho Oyu.
  6. Give back to the society and ecosystem
  7. Reduce my carbon print
  8. Quit my job and make a living out of my passion (I’m working towards it)

For Divya Prasad too, love for the Himalayas drew her closer to live in Himachal Pradesh. Considering it as a blessing, she insists that happiness is a state of mind.

I happened to embrace the simplicity of slow life itself, share happiness, receive love, feel gratitude for all the blessings and wisdom of the universe. I learnt to be present to all that life showered on me and share it with other souls I met on the road. This expansion of consciousness and spirit is liberating. The exploration of the cosmos within and outside of me and its inter-connectedness felt healing and transformational.

With the freedom that the suburban life provides, she now has the time to pursue the things she has always wanted to- travel and focus on her spiritual arts venture Iktomi. But of course, leaving is never easy and Mumbai remains in her heart. The things she would miss the most about the city is the unconditional support of her family, the open winding bazaars and the sandwiches under the open sky.

Looking forward to her move to a life that is more connected to nature and uninterrupted by the glitz of the city, she remarks how this will positively affect her Itch List. Dancing to Himachali songs and walking with a herd of sheep or listening to a gathering of grandmothers and being a part of Mother Earth is what she looks forward to most. To live in a small town, she insists is an opportunity to give back to the community, rediscovering yourself and living a life that is truly happy.

Divya enjoying the little joys of life in Kangra

Divya enjoying the little joys of life in Kangra

Anuradha Goyal is the author of ‘The Mouse Charmers – Digital Pioneers of India’ and a travel blogger at IndiTales – A Travel Blog from India Facebook | Twitter

Medhavi Davda is a travel blogger and catalogues her adventures at Ravenous legs Facebook | Twitter

Divya Prasad blogs at Obsessive Compulsive Traveller and spreads positivity through her handmade mandalas and dream catchers at IktomiFacebook | Twitter

Does the call of the wild beckon you too? What are your views on reverse migration? Let us know we are listening!

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Posted by Sainico Ningthoujam

Scribbler. Wanderer. Itching to trek Valley of Flowers, ace the ukelele and give contemporary dance a try.

3 Comments

  1. “Vagabond”

    Reply

  2. The theme of the article is good but I do not agree that Goa is a small town. It is definitely not, by any standards.

    Goa is well connected on international map and the whole world goes there on vacation. It has airport, railway station & bus station. Just because the internet is weak for few people you can not make it a small town. Examples of small towns could be Nainital, Bir, Dharamsala, Joshimath or even Bareily, Muradabad, Nasik or any 3 tier town.

    Reply

    1. Sainico Ningthoujam April 24, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      Hey Komal, you are absolutely right. Goa is well connected and of course it has all the amenities. But it is a smaller city compared to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune- places that Anuradha and the others were initially living in. So, at a comparative scale, it is moving back to a smaller place, away from noisy hustle-bustle, which is what we mean by reverse migration 🙂

      Reply

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