For the last six months, Aishwarya Taukari, 26, has been following a four-day work week. As a freelance communications consultant based in Goa, she’s conscious of the work she takes up, and is focusing on living a healthy lifestyle. A year-and-a-half ago she couldn’t have even imagined such a life was possible.
Taukari’s transformation as a practitioner of slow living and travel began in April when she moved from Mumbai to Goa. “Goa made me slow down. Earlier, my mindset was about acquiring, competing and ‘being the best’, fuelled by our modern-day work culture. But I also felt purposeless and meaningless about my work and life. It was a hard reality check, where I would undergo bouts of lows,” she recalls.
Although the kernel of thought about slowing down had been planted, it bloomed in Auroville, Pondicherry, in April this year. Taukari found her confidence in sustaining this lifestyle as she saw other digital nomads there, who worked lesser hours but didn’t compromise on their earnings.
The rapid digital adoption since the pandemic has created new job requirements, affording people to live and work remotely, and being in charge of their time. Now she earns 40% more than my corporate job, while having a “healthy me time”.
However, she is wary of romanticising the concept of slow living; it hasn't been a smooth-sailing experience, and has its own challenges. “Once you get used to slow living, you get comfortable with the pace of life and your routine, and anything that may disrupt this peace and tranquility may irk you. For instance, if you have given time to someone and that person doesn’t come on time,” says Taukari, who was brought up in Belgaum.
Poor infrastructure is also something one has to grapple with in these holiday destinations. Taukari recalls that during an important client call her internet was giving her trouble. “I biked down and kept hopping from one friend’s house to another till I got seamless internet. Any disruption in internet can adversely impact your work and, therefore, your earnings,” she says.
Still, Taukari is grateful for the opportunity the pandemic has presented her. She feels in charge of her time, has a healthy relationship with her work, is focused on taking on only social impact projects, which she was always keen on, and is more engaged with community activities. Every alternate Sundays, for instance, Taukari organizes a beach cleanup drive. She’s also made peace with the uncertainty that comes with her lifestyle, even though it offers her more time to spend with her parents and get over the fascination for the big-city life.
"My biggest takeaway is being more open to things and not planning everything to a T. I have also realized you could have one type of work and do it. I don’t know if this experiment will succeed (in the long run) but I have the satisfaction of having tried. I feel I can take on greater challenges and that I have nothing to lose now,” she says.