I belong to a small city, and like many employed individuals have spent a sizable portion of my professional and personal life in metro cities, where the culture and quality are in contrast to that of my laid back small hole, where life winds up by 7 pm!
I left my small city for academics way back in the late 90s and have never looked back since then. One thing led to another, and I soon found my happy self in the corporate world. I felt proud at giving my simpleton parents a substantial topic to boast about among their peers, many of whom turned to me for advice and suggestions for their children. We feel nice when we are looked upon as a credible source of career/academics guidance. Don’t we?
I was high. Swanky offices, considerable money, friends, everything seemed just right. Life was good and happening. On the personal front too, things were happening as planned. I married the man I loved. Being wife to a military man had its own set of challenges which despite being aware of, hit me harder in reality. Moving places every couple of years was one of them. With ever move the distance between my home and workplace, and the time taken to reach there increased a little more than the last one, and so did the space between us. At one point in time, we’d meet only for a couple of hours in a week. Then came along a set of lovely boy-girl twins. I was trying hard to ‘balance’ both worlds. I was striving to be a ‘superwoman’.
Suddenly, the swanky offices became dreadful. The marriage was meaningless. Life was a drudge. I was not unhappy. But I wasn’t happy either.
On hindsight, I now realize that God had been planning differently for me for a long time, and I had been resisting it for a long time. There was a message in the madness. He wanted me to slow down!
Some time back there was an opportunity to move back to my small hole. I was skeptical. It wasn’t planned. Nevertheless, we made the move. Within weeks the initial anxiety and doubt were replaced with euphoria and happiness. My quality of life had improved manifold. I was happy. And yeah, I didn’t quit my career, I just slowed down a bit to be able to attend sports day at my kids’ school, to take them to the zoo and take a lazy stroll with my husband.
Well, the hardest part of the move is the fact that being a military man my husband has to be stationed at his post of duty. We, however, take turns to visit each other and have been able to spend some great quality time together. So it’s not as bad as people assume it to be. The other hard part (on a lighter note) is that my life seems a tad less ‘Facebook/Instagram-worthy’ compared to that of my friends who are bankers in Hong Kong or developers in the United States or consultants in Gurgaon!
Listed below are 15 ways in which moving to a small city enriched my life:
- Travel time: You will save several hours each day commuting to your workplace, shops, visiting friends. Earlier I spent 3 hours reaching the airport for a 1.5-hour flight!
- Local transport: It is way cheaper and convenient to hop into a local auto/rickshaw or call for one at a short notice. My dependency on my car has reduced a lot.
- Easy parking: This is often a pain point in bigger cities. In a small town, getting a parking space is not that big a challenge. Further, many small cities have now introduced multi-layer parking lots.
- Smaller school buses: Instead of the full sized jumbo buses, most schools here deploy smaller vehicles/vans that reach the doorstep to pick up/drop kids. Plus kids don’t spend more than 30 minutes reaching school.
- Friendly neighborhood vendors: You can order a single piece of soap or curry powder over the phone and it is delivered in minutes without any extra cost. I usually pick up scooter for the quick errand and it takes me less than 10 minutes. I have the luxury of being served by small time vendors on cycles who deliver fresh veggies and fish at your doorstep at no extra cost. Now, how cool is that!
- Stronger bonds over coffee: Visiting friends and hanging out is just so simple. A phone call and in 10 minutes we are together. Life can be great even without planning!
- Cheaper movie tickets: Yes! A ticket costs less than 100 bucks including popcorn! The theaters are reasonably clean and well managed and the gentry is great. Multiplexes and single screens co-exist and I chose depending on the need of the hour.
- Personal rapport: I have been able to build a great personal rapport and goodwill with many of the service providers and vendors, the veggie seller, the fish vendor, the grocery store manager, the bank teller, tailor, gas delivery guy and some more. All it takes is a “Hi/Namaste, How have you been doing? How was your son’s grade 12 results? What is he planning to study now?”
- Affordable and friendly service providers: Finding a plumber, cook, driver, gardener, domestic help or electrician is relatively easy. Most of them are reliable and dependable, and found through common contacts and goodwill and last a lifetime.
- A neighborhood, not just a society: I know the name of each of my neighbor and can depend on them for small odd help. We exchange pleasantries and attend functions at each other’s homes. It’s like community living while still having the nuclear structure intact.
- Great alternative career opportunities: We are born without blinkers but live with one on. We never look beyond the obvious, neither do we make attempts to challenge it. And that’s we miss out on great opportunities and never realize our full potentials. Now, with up to 34mbps internet connections location is barely a criterion to pursue a satisfying career! Just think out of the box. I now work for a tech start-up and can’t be any more content. Read Why working at a start-up makes me happy
- More personal time: I have been able to devote an hour every day towards working out and cycling, which I could have never done earlier. At times I just feel like doing nothing, and do nothing. It’s the ultimate rejuvenation. Afternoon naps during the weekend are a bonus. Earlier I depended on a cook for my meals, now most days I fix my own salad, wrap, sandwich, soup and trail mix, things that my cook will not be able to do for me.
- Low crime rate: I still believe people all around the world are generally good. But crime and criminals do exist. Compared to metros, the crime rate is low in a smaller town. Here I don’t lose my sanity if my kids’ school bus is late by 10-15 minutes to drop them back. It’s okay.
- More family time: Despite a full-day work schedule I get substantial time to spend with my kids, get their homework done, take my parents for their check-up and meet an aunt who keeps ill. And all this in a lazy pace, without the hustle-bustle.
- Time for passion: I love DIY projects. I am a crazy collector of old scrap, bottles, caps, boxes and just about anything usable that I can upcycle/recycle later. Now I find time for DIY projects which become even more fun as my kids join in and it becomes a family project. This is a DIY that we made from pistachio shells. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon that I and my kids will remember for long. That afternoon we built memories. Read Why having a ‘passion’ is as important as having a ‘career’
These may seem small things but believe me, they are worth all the dollars and oil in the world! Now I don’t strive to become a superwoman. I am okay being little less than that :-). All women are programmed to be superwomen, but we often try to juggle too many hats at one go, and refuse to STOP, REST, THINK or REBOOT before the finish mark, only to realize that the mark is an illusion that shifts a little ahead just as we are about to reach there. Read How taking a sabbatical helped me
So, when are you taking your leap of faith?
Also published in WomensWeb http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/moving-to-a-small-town-enriched-my-life/