Stories Of 7 Indians Who Left The City Behind For A Quieter Life [Vol. III] - Homegrown

Stories Of 7 Indians Who Left The City Behind For A Quieter Life [Vol. III]

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 a polluted haze. While the grind is one way to live, we all recognise the alternative: expanses of greenery and water that beckon seductively - 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 7 more individuals who moved away from busy cities for a quieter life (check out our other volumes here and here), 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. 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. Sujit Sumitran, 54 || Consultant turned Entrepreneur

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I founded a consulting practice called The Yellow Submarine in 2012 after 30 years of diverse work, ranging from institutional sales to leadership training programs to facilitating innovation in large corporations. After I touched 50, I felt the need to slow down and live a life that would let me be free to do the things I want to and not one that kept me chained to a series of empty, unfulfilling tasks. And that’s what I do today, I coach senior leaders of large corporations to navigate their strategic and operational business and people challenges. I also work with senior leadership teams, using experiential learning and group facilitation methodologies, to help them find their own answers and produce the energy required for change

How and why did you decide to move?

My parents (Dad’s 92 and Mom’s 80) were finding it difficult to adjust to Bangalore after Kerala and we felt Goa would probably be the best place for them in terms of the quality of life, besides good water and air quality

What are the perks and pitfalls of your new lifestyle?

Lot’s of positives. Time. Energy. Lots of interesting people around - expanding our understanding of different domains. The time and space to socialise and do what one wants to do without dilution. Lot’s more people visiting us now than before. Growing our own organic vegetables. Building our own wood-fired oven and evangelising slow-food and good-food. Negatives - poor public transport

What advice would you give people who are thinking of doing the same?

Think long term and make choices that are consistent with your value system and eco-system

Describe a day in your life then and now.

Before the shift:- fairly stressed. Running from pillar to post. Complaining a lot. Annoyed at a lot of things. No energy to leave home. Shrinking social network. Expanding Virtual network with lots of time being spent.Parents unwell frequently with lots of hospital and doctor visits.

After the shift:- Calm most of the time. Lots of creative pursuits. Lots of time doing nothing. Expanding social network. Expanding virtual network with lesser time being spent. Parents well with a few minor doctor visits and no hospital visits.

What 3 words that describe you best.

Unconventional. In-depth. Learner.

One line that inspires you?

“There is a time to make a living and then there is a time to make a life.”

Check out Sujit’s work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

II. Shubham Mansingka, 30 || Businessman turned Travel Blogger

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a solo traveller and travel blogger with an avid interest in photography, culture, trekking and food. I also manage social media for companies and also work as a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. I find solace in the mountains and love listening to stories of villagers and explore offbeat, unknown places to make my readers see more of this beautiful world through my experiences.

How and why did you decide to move?

After studying in Pune and Bombay, I moved to manage my family business of all factories in a small town in Maharashtra. I shifted to the mountains and work on the go from the road. It was a painful battle with asthma for seven years until I gave up everything and left for the mountains and am happy to say that I’ve been medicine free ever since. It was the basic necessity of a clear breath that made me take this decision. I lived without a home for 20 months, and now have a temporary base in Jaipur.

What are the perks and pitfalls of your new lifestyle?

From leading a hectic lifestyle of managing a family business and expanding it from a 7 crore company to 30 crores, a life on the road gives me time to reflect on the basic necessities of life. For me, the best part is breathing clean, fresh air and seeing incredibly beautiful and remote parts of India. The worst part was not knowing what I was doing; I’ve been a solo traveller for long but making blogging and social media a profession was a newfound interest. As they say, ‘We don’t know what we are good at until we give into the same wholeheartedly.’

What advice would you give people who are thinking of doing the same?

A travel blogger’s lifestyle might appear to be a lot of fun, but beneath the surface is hours of hard work, even more so than a regular job. A relevant advice I would like to share is - Make sure you have a fall back option in terms of finances. I saved a lot in my years managing the family business and only work on projects that are interesting and relevant to me.

Describe a day in your life then and now.

Before the shift:- Managing everything from purchase, production, marketing, sales and accounts of the factories and making every minute count to get work done efficiently. After the shift:- I wake up in the midst of nature away from the humdrum in small, obscure locations, travel in an unplanned way, work on the road, share photographs and experiences with my readers and actively work on the blog wherever I am. From being an asthmatic to becoming the only Indian to have trekked across the 5080m Shingo La and reach Zanskar from Lahaul.

Which 3 words describe you best?

Adventurer, wanderer and backpacker.

One line that inspires you?

A line that is most relevant to me, coined by myself : I gave up a normal life, so that i could ‘live’ normally.

Keep up with Shubham and his adventures on his website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

III. Rifq Sarao, 33 || Writer. Dreamer. Yoga Teacher who quit the city but not chocolate.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I own and run, Yoga Dog, which is a small yoga shala in Goa. I wanted to open a yoga shala when I moved to Goa, but what I have now is more of a community of people that help each other out both on and off the mat. I sometimes think, that everyone you need in life you’ll find at Yoga Dog. If people could just get out of bed and onto their mats, I find that their world starts to look better, if it’s not the practice, they’re always the people and hugs at Yoga Dog that make it better. The people who come to Yoga Dog are really the most driven, generous and open hearted people I’ve ever met!

I’ve loved yoga for more than 8 years. But I’ve taught for only 3 of those years. And I’m learning more every day from each student and teacher that comes through this shala.

How and why did you decide to move?

I decided to travel and do yoga for about a year and when I came back to the city, I felt like I had outgrown it. So in the span of a month, I packed my house up and decided to move to Goa. I was extremely nervous, but I knew I couldn’t stay, so I took the plunge and haven’t looked back. I’ve been back to Bombay for 2 days since I moved 2 years ago!

What are the perks and pitfalls of your new lifestyle?

The best part is living a simpler life in the jungle and having the beach so close by. The only worse thing i can think about it is getting used to a slower life. nothing gets done exactly when you need it to. but in a way it forces to slow down and be calmer, which is good. So there really isn’t a “worst” part.

What advice would you give people who are thinking of doing the same?

don’t move out of the city expecting things to function like they do in the city. things take longer, there’s no home delivery and sometimes you get wild animals in your house. if you’re not okay with those things, stay in the city.

Describe a day in your life then and now.

Before the shift:- I spent most of my day in a rickshaw or in an office.

After the shift:- I spend almost all my time in my front porch watching birds in my garden or in outdoor cafes meeting friends and colleagues.

What 3 words that describe you best.

Dreamer. Worrier. Chocolate lover.

One line that inspires you?

“You are everything you need to be.” - I don’t remember where I read it or heard it. It may have been a dream or a voice in my head.


IV. Michelle Sebastian, 33 || Escaped the daily grind to work from home.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am PR and Communication professional currently working with ‘Wedding Wishlist’ India’s first wedding gift registry. I started my career 12 years ago and I’ve spent all that time in the luxury hospitality industry as a PR and Marketing Manager. A few brands I have worked with include ITC Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz Carlton, The Park, Ista ( now know as Hyatt Bangalore) etc. I am currently based in Kochi and enjoy the little luxuries of working from home.

How and why did you decide to move?

I’ve been based out of Bangalore all through and in the recent past I’ve made the switch to Kochi (moved to Kochi in Sept 2014) Following the love of my life was the reason this decision was very easy .

What are the perks and pitfalls of your new lifestyle?

The pros - The clean air of Aluva (thats exactly where I reside), the luxury of a lavish home with beautiful views that is extremely affordable, flexible work hours and travel plans, the joys of learning a new language (helps when one has to bargain at the local market), working from home in jammies sans make up, heels, extra family bonding time to make up for the last few years, making the most of my productive work hours and finally the most amazing part of not being stuck in the daily traffic rut to work and back.

The Cons - Committing to work time, despite minor distractions from the outside world For example the mundane scenario - Im running on a tight deadline to complete an assignment and my house help has a wedding to attend that very day! The fact that apart from Dominos there is no take away in the close vicinity so I have to ensure I cook for myself even when I don’t feel like it, The crazy humidity that can be a bane to any Bangalorean! Bangalore withdrawal syndrome when I’m on Facebook or Instagram, Murphy’s law - when you’re on a conference/Skype call you have visitors!

What advice would you give people who are thinking of doing the same?

Take the plunge, its now or never.. You don’t know what your missing on the other side. This is the best time to rediscover your latent talents and skills and that’s a bonus to consider living life on your own turf.

Describe a day in your life then and now.

Flexible wake up hrs of 6.30 or 7.30 am, whip up my breakfast depending on my mood (my husband has absolutely no choice) and after my shift its of course a leisure dinner, dessert, music or a book to keep me company sans the work calls of course!

What 3 words that describe you best.

Dessert glutton, (sorry that’s 2 words). Dreamer. Planner.

One line that inspires you

Everything you want is one the other side of fear!

V. Alisha Pathak, 24 || Coder turned nature enthusiast

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Having garnered nicknames like Tangent, Walking Encyclopedia, Roller Skater Legs, Chattan Singh, and Owlisha over years, it is only fair that I defend them. Although a trained science researcher, but extending that attitude to almost everything: pause, observe, act. An environment enthusiast, information junkie, aspiring mountaineer, and a beanbag philosopher. Have I mentioned that I love breakfasts?

I finished my post graduation two years ago in interdisciplinary science from a reputed research institute, and since decided to understand the basics - farming, food, lifestyle, history, mountains, education - more hands on way.

How and why did you decide to move?

I was based in Pune and Bangalore as I was completing my masters in Interdisciplinary sciences before deciding to shift and explore beaches, mountains and forests across India. I wouldn’t call myself a traveller - because I would choose a place and stay put there for a while - I was in Pondicherry for 4 months, Puttur for 1 month, and since have been moving with my backpack. Latest I was freelancing as an outdoor instructor. I did shift to Delhi for four months last year only to run to mountains. Honestly, breathing in Delhi is unnatural.

I was and am trying to explore careers and am on a quest for an occupation which combines my love for mountains, cognitive neuroscience, ecology, and forests. Have hints?

I was digitising and coding incessantly, and no more found a connection with something I had loved for long - academic research. Sedentary lifestyle made me unfit than ever before and I lacked connection with the life I was living- I wanted to understand the social issues raised in news better (esp farmer suicides), learn where and how my food came from, to challenge my physical and mental limits. I took the leap considering that there was no better time and frame of mind to do this than now - I am capable of learning, I am adaptable, and I have no immediate responsibilities to shoulder.

What are the perks and pitfalls of your new lifestyle?

Best: I breathe better air, I sleep better, I am more conscious of my living, I can adapt to places like a boss, and I have aged exponentially mentally.

Worst: I give my parents and dear ones more ulcers than they should have (stress), there is a background hum of if this is something I can sustain for long, fear that I would slack in my purpose and ambitions,

What advice would you give people who are thinking of doing the same?

Straight and square: Ask yourself what is stopping you?

Keep some savings for when things go wrong.

Never forget the purpose of why you moved away from the city.

Always pass on the goodwill:a lot of strangers will help you and many may even deceive you - but keep the good rolling.

Describe a day in your life then and now.

Before the shift:- 9 AM lab, be there till 5, go for swim, catch up with friends for dinner. sleep by 1 am. Life of a researcher never takes a break from work, I often say that one isnt a researcher by profession but by lifestyle.

After the shift (as in mountains and forests):- Wake up with the sun, conjure up a meal and head out for activities, all to be done before noon, just to sit back for siesta, and some evening chores, just to huddle around a bonfire to discuss day proceedings.

What 3 words that describe you best.

Curious. Adventurous. Sangfroid.

One line that inspires you?

“Khudi ko kar buland itna,

ki har taqdeer se pehle,

khuda khud bande se pooche,

Bata Teri raza kya hai”

VI. Apurva Kothari, 40||Founder of No Nasties and Once Upon A Doug

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve been running No Nasties since 5 years now - we started the company in Mumbai as a t-shirt company and since then have moved to Goa and evolved it into an ethical fashion brand. No Nasties is India’s first 100% certified Fairtrade clothing brand.

Before that, I was working in the USA in Technology for 12 years as a Program Manager for several startups as well as large corporations, but got tired of the race and moved to India to work in the social enterprise sector.

How and why did you get started?

I was based in Mumbai and we moved to Goa (in Parra, in land from Anjuna) about 3 years ago. It got too hectic, too frustrating and too expensive living in Mumbai. The city forces you to chase a higher and higher level of income, and leaves you little time to enjoy it. After being in Mumbai for 5 years, we said it’s time to get out while we still can. So we sold out apartment and packed off to Goa, replacing rush hour traffic with sunset swims and rickshaw rides covered in fumes with scootys zipping past paddy fields.

What are the perks and pitfalls of your new lifestyle?

Goa is a much more affordable place to live and offers yo u a great balance of peace and party! The food is great - we have french folks running a bakery (waking up to an almond croissant and coffee never gets old!), italians making hand-made natural gelato, japanese offering sushi, and the swiss making amazing cheese - it’s fantastic and probably the biggest surprise for us in Goa. We expected the great local seafood but this international fare was news to us. Our other big joy is the beach. It changes everything. A sunset swim eases all the days stress and just calms you down. We love it.

What advice would you give people who are thinking of doing the same?

Goa can be a bit cut-off and isolated so make sure you are fine with alone time or are traveling in and out often. Also, infrastructure and life is still a bit rural - expect slowness. In fact, embrace it.

Describe a day in your life then and now.

Before:- Wake up to honking, deal with morning house routine (maids, milkman, etc), 45 minutes in a rickshaw to travel 5 odd km (juhu to bandra), day in the office, evening drinks/dinner with friends, back home in a rick, watch tv till I fall asleep.

After:- Morning yoga/workout, breakfast with local bread and eggs and fruit, work from the home office surrounded by palm trees and birdsong, evening break (ideally for a swim at the beach), couple of beers, dinner with friends and family, zzz’s.

Also, I play ultimate frisbee. In Mumbai, I coached the Mumbai Storm Chasers team and in Goa, I have started to train the Gnash team. I play pretty seriously, and represent India too. The sport has been one of the constants of life, no matter where I go.

What 3 words that describe you best.

Hopeful. Empathetic. Energetic.

One line that inspires you?

“ Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Check out NoNasties on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Check out Once Upon A Doug on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

VII. Akanksha Bumb & Jeet Sachdeva, Both 33 || Business professionals turned travellers.

Tell us a bit about yourselves?

People generally know us crazy travellers. We have done a lot of odd jobs during our volunteering stints - from teaching, making compost toilet, working on a bio mass power project and helping on an organic farm.

Currently Akanksha works, remotely, for an all women travel company, F5 Escapes, based in Bangalore; planning and leading trips. Jeet is working with an NGO in the Kumaon region, Avani, on the project for generating electricity from pine needles. Akanksha volunteers with Avani.

Both of us periodically conduct mosaic art workshops in Bangalore. We are also brain storming to launch a cleanliness drive and a sustainable waste management program in Bhimtal.

How and why did you get started?

We were in Bangalore when we got married in 2013. After that we have lived in Coorg, Kutch, Goa, Kodaikanal, Himachal and are now in Bhimtal, Uttarakhand. In most of the above places we volunteered to cover our food and shelter. Between all this we managed to find jobs, that allowed us to work remotely and put food on our table.

Both of us, individually, have gone through the regular grind - graduation, MBA, job - and somehow didn’t see value in the ‘buy-more’ lifestyle. The more we read and saw, the more self-destructive it seemed. Both of us had made the shift from corporate to crazy even before we met. I think there were a lot of factors that made us do this, but quality of life we will lead, was the major one.

After we got married, the adventurous streak blossomed (much to the dismay of our parents who thought we will settle down). We found a willing partner in crime, in each other. And Muniya, our mountain dog, brought us closer to our true nature.

What are the perks and pitfalls of your new lifestyle?

The best part is option to take up a job in areas we believe in and love. When you sort your need/want priorities, you realise you can do away with spending a lot of money. We have a lot of unstructured time now, to trek, gaze, swim, play music and read. We cook leisurely and make our own stuff.

The most difficult part is to internalize a life away from store-bought convenience; to push ourselves to be more self-reliant. There is no worst part.

What advice would you give people who are thinking of doing the same?

Every one has a different set of responsibilities and life-goals, so it is futile to follow someone else’s path. Our advice is to experiment for a bit. Take a break for six months and see if you can actually live a life with less money and away from urban conveniences. Seek an already existing community for starters, because you will constantly need motivation and support.

The idea is to distinguish your needs from what you think you need. It is important to learn to live within your means. How to manage finances is something no one preaching “follow your passion” talks about. But it is important.

Describe a day in your life then and now.

We were not married when we individually took the shift. But our days before the shift were pretty much the same. Get up thinking Oh! Shit!-eat in a jiffy, or not -commute to work - work on things which we were good at but didn’t see much value in - have a quick lunch at cafeteria - get to home tried. Read/Play guitar and sleep. Sometime get back on the laptop because there is a call with US or because boss needs something tomorrow morning. We still travelled whenever we got a chance but it only made us sadder coming back to the cities.

Now a typical day starts with Muniya waking us up for a walk. We sip tea leisurely looking out at the lake. Cook our breakfast and are still be ready for work by 10AM. We work out of a servant quarter which we painted and refurbished ourselves. Our hours are flexible and we find time to do things we love. Plus we don’t have to clock in specified hours just to prove we are productive.

We give time to cook food and make our soap, bread, furniture and mosaic. There is a lot to do with this unstructured time - swim, cycle, read, play guitar, write. We are actually a lot more disciplined now than before.

What 3 words that describe you best.

Bohemian, Snuffbumble, Jugaad

One line that inspires you

“Every declaration of independence is an act of adventure” (its an original line)

Follow Bohemian Snuffbumble on their blog or Facebook.


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