Stories Of 10 Indians Who Left The City Behind For A Quieter Life

Most city dwellers are born into the linear rat race that comes with living in an urban space, constantly hustling and bustling through crowded railway platforms and car-jammed roads in polluted. While the grind is one way to live, we all recognise the alternative: expanses of greenery and water that beckon—the simple life. We all recognise it, and maybe even sporadically discuss how we will one day leave the busy streets behind, but too few actually go on to living it and doing it.

Giving up the infrastructural convenience and energy of the city for a quaint and peaceful life is a challenge not meant for most, but there are a few souls who pull it off. They run to the call of clean air and unadulterated simplicity, and revel in its beauty. And as people on the other side of that ‘green grass’, we idolise them all the more for it, despite not knowing much about what inspires such decisions, or what makes them challenging.

As a tribute to the few that have achieved this feat, we’ve compiled stories of 10 individuals who moved away from busy cities for a quieter life, and each story is as inspirational as the next, not to mention honest in its simplicity. While most have left cities like Mumbai and Delhi for Goa, a few have gone even further beyond to places such as Havelock or Koh Phangan. If you need a little motivation to pack your bags and change the pace of your life, let these stories be your catalyst.

[Note to readers: all these people are featured in alphabetical order and in no particular order of preference.]

I. Abhay Singh | 31 | Passionate. Determined. Independent.

From fast-paced Mumba to quaint, yet bustling. Caranzalem, Goa.

“No place is perfect. Take advantage of what you have and find ways to make up for what you don’t, and you be able to love life in a small town.”

Abhay works for a global hotel chain in Goa, and wouldn’t have it any other way. “There were more lucrative opportunities in the city, but I decided to follow my heart, and here I am.”

The Shift

“Working in the hospitality industry as well as being the co-founder/partner at a futsal AstroTurf gave me a good life in the city. My peers, friends, family, and even mentors and industry veterans vehemently prophesied that being at the top of the food and beverage game means having to live in a metropolitan city. However, after years of dirt, grime and a murderous daily commute ranging from Powai to Saki Naka to Andheri added to the deathly work schedules of a food and beverage associate—whilst barely having the time to meet my two-year-old English bulldog, family or friends—I decided to finalise my decision. I realised that eventually, you live with your own decisions.”

Abhay Singh

Abhay Singh

The Perks

“You can see the stars here. I have the time to exercise my dog on the beach everyday. I participate in a beach crossfit session thrice a week, take regular hikes and even have the time to learn how to cook basic Goan/Portuguese food. I understand the concept of balance better. I also get to gloat over my counterparts in metros who spend hours a day twiddling their thumbs over a steering wheel.”

The Challenges

“None so far. None predicted either.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

 II. Ajay Makhija | 30 | Seeking. Restless. Multi-faceted.

From a settled life in Mumbai to a nomadic adventure through McLeodganj, Goa, Havelock, and now, Koh Phangan.

“Phase it out—try out an extended period of time in a place you’re considering. Know that there will be tough times to weather, so have a support system of friends and family you can call or video call with. Stock up on some things not easily available, but realise that you can do just fine without those things too.”

In 2006, Ajay started working as a production assistant for TV adverts with a company called Happy Dog Films. He moved to the UK to pursue a Master’s in Finance, and returned to India during the financial crisis of 2008-09. Back in Mumbai, he took up a job at Blue Frog, where he handled logistics and acted as the point-man for artists before moving into the business and strategy department.  It was around this time that he started his DJ act, Orbs & Zen, with his friend, Nicky.

The Shift

“The pollution, the unhealthy food, the rat race in this corrupted city just made me crave nature and the peace and quiet that came with it. I just wanted to get away and explore yoga and meditation. I hoped to discover myself. Added to this was the realisation that I was paying a hefty premium to live in terribly poor surroundings. So I packed my bags and travelled to McLeodganj, Goa and then Havelock in the Andamans where I picked up a job managing a hotel for six months. I went to Kodaikanal soon after. When I returned to Mumbai, I realised that I couldn’t return to this life. So, I left the city for good. For a year now, I have been living in Koh Phangan, Thailand.”

Ajay Makhija

Ajay Makhija

The Perks

“I live healthier and cleaner, my horizons have expanded, and I have learnt a lot about myself. I am more connected to the Earth, and I have realised that I have a responsibility towards keeping it safe. I’ve met interesting people and places, and expanded my worldview. From a life where I had to work day and night, I have moved to one where I run a yoga centre, giving me the freedom of a peaceful life.”

The Challenges

“Sometimes, I miss my friends and family. Once in a while, I miss the buzz and the energy of the city.”

“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one—himself.”

III. Bhagyashree Patwardhan | 41 | Creative. Intelligent. Straightforward.

From Mumbai’s city life to Goa’s serenity.

Just go for it. Don’t think and plan too much. Everything will fall into place.”

After pursuing a specialist degree in ceramic design from NID, she realised that working with just one medium was quite limiting. “From heading a product design studio designing lifestyle accessories for the international B2B market, to heading the visual merchandising team, the design and art journey has been quite resilient. Designing sets for ad films, running a successful design and branding consultancy for several years in Mumbai finally led to me doing art and design for large museum projects. The work was challenging and fun. I was allowed to explore various mediums and techniques. The Sikh History Museum in Nanded and Sudhu Vaswani Museum in Pune took several years of dedicated research, understanding and interpretation of the themes as well as integration of all activities and disciplines to be captured and showcased together as a whole,” she shares.

While it taught her a lot, she still found the work restrictive. “I needed free rein to pursue what I believed I could do and wanted to do. A mix of colours, textures, cultures, tones and thoughts was what I wanted to present to the world. It was this need that led to the inception of my store, Paper Boat Collective.”

The Shift

“Although I enjoyed Mumbai, the energy, exuberance and fast-paced life I encountered when I first moved there pulled me down. Life was about money, the next best place to eat or drink, the most happening things, or buying more beautiful things. There was no fresh air to breathe and no place to walk or get some peace and quiet. I had lost my soul and my connect to nature. I just needed to feel at peace and be one with my surroundings, and slow down the pace a bit. I just up and packed and left.”

Bhagyashree Patwardhan

Bhagyashree Patwardhan

The Perks

“Life has become meaningful, soulful and beautiful. I have met interesting people, and have the space to lead a sustainable and responsible life. Some days, I work for two hours and get done what I would in two days if I was in Mumbai.”

The Challenges

“There is no worst part for me.”

“If you let the universe in, magic happens.”

IV. Kyla D’Souza | 28 | Honest. Happy. Hopeful.

The beaches of Goa called and she left Mumbai behind her.

 “People think living in Goa means chilling 24×7. It’s not. I work here, I run a home here and I live here. If it is something you think you would like, go for it. Don’t be afraid to say ‘it’s not for me’ either because it isn’t for everyone. At the end of the day though, you never know unless you give it a go.”

Kyla D’souza is the founder and artistic director of The Peas & Carrots Theatre Co. which aims to perform plays with timeless themes that speak a universal language to be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere. “I also design and conduct workshops for emerging and established artists, schools, colleges and corporates interested in experiential learning through theatre. Currently I am guest faculty at the Goa Institute of Management, Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts, and also play the role of Babette the Feather Duster in Disney India’s Beauty and the Beast.”

The Shift

“I simply needed a more peaceful and productive life. Having lived in metropolitan cities—Bangalore, Moscow, New Delhi, Mumbai and New York—my whole life, I grew tired of the stress and struggles that come with big cities. Theatre is getting more and and more commercial, and while that works for some, it didn’t work for me. I found that English theatre was making huge strides in some aspects, but in a lot of cases, its standards were dropping. This isn’t just about shows or performances. Students are charged exorbitantly for workshops and theatre courses only to receive below-average training. I started my own theatre company to change that, but I knew that as a start-up I couldn’t compete with other, more established organisations out there. And honestly, I did not want to,” she muses.

Goa has its own challenges. Still, the people and pace of life have made her a happier, healthier and more driven person. She emphasises: “There is a huge need for English theatre here. I saw that opportunity and I took advantage of it. As an artist, you never know where your next pay cheque is coming from. There are months when you have nothing going on and months when you have no time to eat, sleep or even breathe. I found that during both these periods, I’d rather be able to work in a place that allows me to be me as well as unwind.”

kyladsouza

The Perks

“It has brought out the best in me, both, personally and professionally. I’ve had to struggle some days but most days, I wake up thinking that it’s good to be alive. Also, I live on the beach and a beer costs Rs.37. It helps.”

The Challenges

“Travel is a bit of a pain if you don’t own a car or bike. Taxis are ridiculously expensive and public transport is practically non-existent. Mobile network and internet isn’t the best here either so that gets frustrating, but it is a very small price to pay for some peace of mind.”

“Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” — Stanislavsky

V.  Pia Trivedi | 31 |  Spiritual. Adventurer. Emotional.

 From Mumbai’s noise to Goa’s tranquility.

“Change is not easy for everyone. You should be honest with yourself about what you want from life and once you know what that is you should just go for it. Be strong and live a full life.”

Pia Trivedi is a fashion model and TV presenter. “I have worked with leading designers, ruled the runway, worked as a VJ for channel V, and modelled for the covers for leading magazines.”

The Shift

“Mumbai had ceased to be what it used to be while I was growing up. I found that I was always working or locked up at home and I just wasn’t able to lead the lifestyle I wanted. I began yearning to be close to nature. My life was all about work in the glamour industry, which meant partying, socialising and networking all day long. Now, my life is real. I have the time and space to tap into my passion and love for animals. Right now, I am involved with volunteer work and hopefully I will soon be able to build my own animal farm. I have also started a charity that looks after the needs of people in rural areas in different parts of the country. I want to be able to give back as much as I can and by being here, I am being able to do it.”

IMG_9854

The Perks

“I am loving every minute of it. I get time to spend with my husband and pets. I get to ride my bike around and dive into the ocean everyday. Most importantly, I’m living a life surrounded by nature, where I can do yoga and watch the sunset without being irritated by traffic or large crowds.”

The Challenges

“For me, there has been nothing bad about moving.”

“If you limit choices to only what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and then all that’s left is a compromise.”

VI. Priya Ramachandran |29

&

Lovell D’souza | 31

 To the carefree Goan life.

“Do not follow the romanticised idea of quitting your job just because it sounds exciting. We were never ‘city people’ to begin with. Our creative line of work allowed us to be self-employed and work from home. We also had money saved, which gave us the confidence to take such a risk. Finding good, well-paying jobs in a small town is not easy at all. You have to know your strengths and be confident and self-assured—enough to know you can find work yourself. Often, city-bred people who immensely enjoy holidays in quiet places like this may not be able to adjust to an everyday life here. We are not ‘lucky’ that we live in Goa, we made that choice.”

Priya Ramchandra, who hails from Hyderabad, worked for about six years with newspaper publications such as Deccan Chronicle and The Times of India. She gave up her job as the chief copy editor to work as a freelance writer and editor, while being able to enjoy life in Goa with her husband, Lovell D’souza.

Lovell, who hails from Goa, moved to Hyderabad for his job. After six years as a front end developer (internal tools and search quality strategist) with Google, he decided to give it up. After tying the knot, they moved to Goa. Now, Lovell shoots weddings when he is not providing web development and SEO solutions for businesses.

The Shift

“We were very unhappy with our city lives. Urban life, where the only way to amuse yourself seemed to be by spending weekend after weekend at the movies, malls or watering holes, or shutting yourself up indoors, did not appeal to us one bit. We craved an everyday existence filled with small joys that we could look forward to—taking a walk, working when we wanted, watching a sunset or just enjoying a quiet day by the sea or in the hills. As a Goan, Lovell missed the slow pace, clean air, and a life devoid of stress, infuriating traffic, pollution and the general chaos that comes with living in a big city. When we could no longer take the monotonous cubicle existence, we decided it was time to move.”

Priya and Lowell

Priya and Lowell

The Perks

“We moved to a small village near Old Goa called Corlim, that is surrounded by hills, lakes, the Mandovi river, a few river islands, fields and stunning monuments. We are enjoying the charm and quiet of a village life without having to give up on modern-day benefits. We have great roads, fuel is cheaper, people are nicer—and we may not be earning more than what we did in Hyderabad, but we make more than enough for a place where the cost of living is way lower.”

From a tiring corporate existence, they moved to a life of serenity. “We try and start our day early and go cycling or running. We enjoy our breakfast and get to work at our own pace. We take long reading breaks, enjoy the occasional siesta and spend our evenings exploring our neighbourhood or simply watching the sun go down,” she adds.

The Challenge

“The not-so-great broadband services. The speed is not even half of what we used to get in Hyderabad. Online services aren’t too great too. We don’t have the convenience of apps like Uber, Ola or Foodpanda. Deliveries from online portals like Flipkart and Amazon too take really long. But nothing we can’t live with. We might just be better off this way.”

“The beauty of life and this world of our own making, inspires us, if anything.”

VII. Snigdha Manchanda | 32 | Expressive. Enthusiastic. Unstoppable.

Juggled between settling down in Pune or Kochi, and finally decided on Goa.

“Those planning to move here should gain the right insights and prepare well. It’s not all rosy and cosy. You may have to give up a few small comforts of life. There is clearly a trade off and you should be willing to pay the price. Often I am asked when the best time to move to Goa is, and my answer is always the same—now! There is never a better time to do what you love the most.”

Snigdha Manchanda is a tea sommelier and the founder of TeaTrunk.com, a gourmet tea company. “We work with farmers to source teas and craft them into unique, flavourful blends. I worked as a communications specialist for eight years and ran a consultancy called Story Ninja. On a sabbatical from work, I decided to study tea professionally, eventually leading to the conceptualisation of Tea Trunk and our online store in 2013.”

The Shift

“Goa was never a part of my plan. A friend of mine was moving to Goa and she suggested that I check it out. I stayed with her for a month and there was no going back. Goa had everything I needed to setup my e-commerce business and it required only half the capital I would have needed in Mumbai. It was perfect.”

Snigdha Manchanda

Snigdha Manchanda

The Perks

“Our studio is based out of a villa on the fringes of a valley. When you move out of tiny apartments in Mumbai, the sense of space is overwhelming. I love how nature is interspersed. I love that Shinrin Yoku (a Japanese term for forest bathing) is a minute away from wherever I am in Goa. I look back at my Instagram feed from Mumbai and there were photos of restaurants, food, parties and now my feed has fruits that grow in my backyard, birds that come to visit, and meals cooked by me. That’s a drastic shift in life and landscape.”

The Challenges

“My first impression was that everything is so simple in Goa. But then there were surprises: internet is expensive and initially, I could not deal with how unreliable it is.”

“Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.”- Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

 VIII. Tania Fadte | 35 | I don’t know.

 From the hustle-bustle of Mumbai to the quiet beaches of Goa.

“Leaving the city can never be easy. It comes with a lot of insecurities and doubts, but if the motive is good enough, things begin to flow smoothly.”

As a stylist by profession, Tania Fadte is a work-from-home mom, as well as a struggling tailor. When she was 25, she left the comfort of Goa and moved to Mumbai to pursue her passion as a stylist, working with several magazines such as Elle, GQ, Grazia, and Condé Nast Traveller, to name a few. Finally, her heart took her back home to Goa.

The Shift

“I always knew I would return to Goa at some point. I lived and worked in Mumbai for eight years. When Dinesh and I got pregnant, we decided to make the move because there was no way we could have our baby in the city. While Dinesh wanted to move to Goa as soon as we found out, I insisted on working till the seventh month of my pregnancy. It wasn’t easy. Every time I got out of my apartment I would hold my belly and say sorry to Açai [their daughter] for the noise. It simply didn’t make any sense for us to stay, even though the work was great. Staying meant paying insane rents and going back to work immediately, as opposed to the almost two-year-long maternity break I could take after I moved.”

Explaining the changes in her everyday life, she says, “In Mumbai, I would wake up and feed my cats and clean their litter before heading to work. I would eat bad food while at work, come back home late and go to sleep. Now, I wake up and water the garden, feed the cats (I don’t have to clean their litter because they are village cats), eat a healthy breakfast, and spend time with Dinesh and Açai, before I get online do some work. We get lunch together, and head to the beach after a while. We swim and watch the sunset, before coming back home to enjoy fresh, home-cooked dinner before retiring for the day. Both of us make it a point to not take up work at the same time so that one of us can always be with Açai,” she shares.

Tania Fadte

Tania Fadte

The Perks

“The beach is close to us, we eat healthy, and have met so many like-minded people. If we tried raising Açai in the city, our life would have been all about noisy malls and parks. We would have probably hired a nanny for her and put her in a playgroup at an early age. That thought alone makes me cringe,” she shares.

Now, they have the time to teach her at home, take her to the beach and fields, and teach her about nature. “Our workload has visibly reduced. We don’t work everyday like we used to. But the best part is that we work with people we love and who love our work in turn. We have branched out to doing other things that do not require us to be in the city—Dinesh teaches capoeira in Goa and I am trying to make clothes,” she adds.

The Challenges

“It was a little bit of a struggle in the beginning. Life in Goa is quite slow compared to Mumbai. Goa has changed a lot in the few years that I was away, and even today we deal with issues like waste segregation and garbage, noise pollution due to construction and increasing development,” she muses.

IX. Tanya Anand | 26 | Dreamer. Motivated. Girl boss.

 From the capital city to her hometown of Jammu.

“Sources don’t come too easy and it’s not fortuitous. A lot of running to and fro is involved every now and then.”

Tanya is the founder of Label Paisley Pop, a handmade jewellery boutique. “I quit city life 15 months ago in exchange for a quaint little 12 x 12 feet all-white studio-cum-workshop in my hometown of Jammu.”

The Shift

“I did not want my past to distract me from my present. After working for two years as a graphic designer and social media person with a digital PR agency—while running my part time jewellery business—I figured that creativity doesn’t come to me between traffic jams and client meetings. I decided to travel for a while to fuel my ideas. Two months of holidaying in the hills gave me the guts I needed to call it quits. Today, instead of sitting in my office and reading travel blogs, I get to write my own travel blog,” she shares.

Tanya Anand

Tanya Anand

The Perks

“I don’t have to check how many leaves I have left to be able to do what I love. Once or twice a month, I take off with my design team to hill stations or villages in Rajasthan or Punjab. We find our inspiration for a new collection there. When I am home, I find solace in sitting at my desk, sipping my coffee and gazing out the window to the lush garden and pink bougainvilleas, and working my pliers on shiny gold things.”

The Challenges

“People have a 9-to-5 life. I have a ‘good morning’ to ‘good night’ life. But I sort of enjoy it.”

“Don’t be most people. Most people don’t achieve their dreams.”

 Compiled by Krupa Joseph & Raj Rege

[Note to readers: We're always looking for inspiration to move to quieter, greener pastures.

To contribute your story to Volume II of this series, write in to contact@homegrown.co.in with the subject line 'Quit City Life'.]

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