In Lost In America (1985)—one of the many “stress-releasing” movies on my pandemic viewing list—a textbook 1980s yuppie couple who are fed up with their lifestyle (he works in an advertising agency; she does HR for a department store chain) decide to “drop out of society”. They sell their house, liquidate their assets and travel the country in a Winnebago recreational vehicle, on the tailwinds of Easy Rider.
I may have interested you in the movie, so I won’t share spoilers, only that this is a satire on Reagan-era values and the couple decide it is best to get back to their old lifestyle as soon as possible. For a while though, their spirit of giving it all up is infectious.
The families featured in our cover story this week by Lathika George—who herself moved to Kodaikanal 33 years ago—haven’t made u-turns yet. They are thriving in their new contexts. Take Anjali Rudraraju and Kabir Cariappa, who live on their organic homestead on the banks of the Nugu reservoir near Mysuru. Rudraraju left a corporate job in New York City so her infant son could live “close to nature, with clean air and water, sunshine and trees”.
People move for different reasons, from homes, jobs, professions, countries, relationships. In our cover story, George makes a case for moving not just for yourself but also for the greater good: “With a third of the country’s population living in a disproportionately small area, cities are crowded, dirty, polluted and uninhabitable for most residents. As urban areas are responsible for almost three-fourths of the world’s carbon emissions, the pandemic may also be an opportunity to save the planet, starting with its cities,” she writes. A growing number of city dwellers are already migrating to the countryside, to the hills, small towns and farmlands, with dreams of a greener, cleaner life, away from pollution, the daily commute and escalating prices, she observes.
Sometimes we move for a short while, with a return ticket. Like investment banker Swanand Kelkar, whose one-year sabbatical we have been chronicling in Lounge (read his fifth-month adventures). Sometimes we move to get away from stillness, sometimes for a reckless adventure, often we move for peace of mind or to shift focus, but mostly we move for growth. We also move simply because we want to. We move because we are.
I am moving on as the editor of Lounge, dear readers, for all of the reasons above. This is my last issue.
Find me at @aninditaghose