Living in the whirlwind that is Mumbai, has always been exciting. The city, with its heartbeat pulsating through crowded local trains, aromatic street food, and the spirit of resilience, was and always will be my home and an integral part of my identity. I revel in the chaos, cherish the familiarity of faces, and embrace the hussle and jugad culture that defines the Mumbaikar spirit. The traffic jams with incessant honking, the daily running around in circles that take us nowhere and yet somewhere, the SoBo culture that some of us North Mumbaikars subconsciously emulate – every bit is a reminder that I am part of something extraordinary. With all that the city has seen over the last couple of decades, Mumbaikars always bounce back, not letting any tragedy push us down and any Mumbaikar would agree, being a Mumbaikar is an emotion.
But then, the unexpected happened – the pandemic struck, and Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, came to a standstill. Suddenly, the vibrant nightlife, the camaraderie of friends hanging out and the pulse of the city were not as happening as it used to be anymore. This led to a detour that changed my perspective and gave me a chance to start over.
I returned to the serenity of my roots in Kannur, Kerala, where I had spent fleeting moments during summer vacations amidst the warm embrace of cousins and relatives. As a child, those 20 days in a year had been my only escape from tutions and homework, and might I add, super strict parents! The escapist in me loved the bit where I could be rebellious and get away with it, thanks to my grandmother and aunties pampering me always!
However, this time, it was different. I now found solace in the wide-open spaces, the cleaner beaches, and a lifestyle that was more relaxed. The pandemic-enforced hiatus became a blessing, especially considering the health scare I had just scraped through!
Living in Kerala was an opportunity to detox from the frantic energy of Mumbai. The long drives, the cleaner, greener environment, and the substantially lower cost of living provided a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle I was accustomed to. As the pandemic subsided, I found myself embracing the tranquillity of Kerala. Wasn't long before I realized that I could blend my love for the nomadic lifestyle with the essence of Mumbai. I joined a social impact startup, Mikro Grafeio (Beyond Workspaces) that allowed me the freedom to work remotely or from a workspace closest to home, no matter where I was, and suddenly, I was living my dream of being a wanderer of sorts. The rat race wasn't as exciting anymore, and this controlled pace of life became my new normal.
Moreover, Kerala had transformed remarkably over the last decade. The developments in infrastructure, connectivity, and work culture have been astounding. The introduction of the 4th international airport in Kerala, at Mattannur, the influx of global brands, the culinary scene, and the overall growth painted a picture of a State on the rise. Kerala is no longer just a holiday destination; it is now a land of opportunities. With the addition of Infoparks and Technoparks, and integrated workspace solutions across cities, Kerala has become the ideal place for personal and professional growth. The supportive ecosystem, coupled with the tranquillity of the surroundings, has created a conducive environment for innovation and creativity. The State has evolved into a hub where dreams can be nurtured and ambitions can thrive.
With this newfound sense of calm and balance, I now believe that home isn't just an address on the passport or an aadhar card; it is a feeling, an amalgamation of memories, experiences and the people around us. Mumbai will always be a part of me, but now, so will Kerala. As I move ahead, I take cognisance of the fact that life is about embracing detours. But enough about me.. Are you tempted to take a detour yet?