Once upon a time, you studied, married, worked and died in the city you were born in. Not anymore. What is it that makes us get a move on?
Bollywood singer Shilpa Rao knew exactly what she wanted to do after she finished her Class XII boards in Jamshedpur. She was headed towards big, bad Mumbai, an alien city she had only visited for short periods as a child.
“Mumbai is the hub of the music industry. At the end of school, I felt I needed to move out if I wanted to do anything connected with music,” says Shilpa, one of the music industry’s rising new stars.
Like Shilpa, many of us don’t think twice before leaving behind the safe confines of our homes in search of better education or career opportunities or even marriage. But it wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time, people worked, grew old and died in the city they were born in.
Big city calling
Like Shilpa, actor Varun Badola, who spent his childhood and teenage years in Delhi, moved to the entertainment capital of India because that was where his kind of work was. “I am an actor. Delhi doesn’t have much to offer people in my profession. I have always been pretty certain that I’ll travel anywhere if it furthers my career,” says Badola, a successful television actor who has been in Mumbai for twelve years now.
Now you may think it’s no big deal for someone in the entertainment industry to move to Mumbai since that’s where the action is. But often, people shift not because they have no other choice, but because they want to experience living in a new city.
Advertising professional Kiran Singh was one of them. Born and brought up in Delhi, Kiran never for a moment imagined she would ever shift out of her beloved city, away from her parents and childhood friends. But when she got an exciting job offer that required her to be based in Mumbai, she just couldn’t refuse. “I knew Mumbai was a more expensive city, that it was difficult to live in and housing was a nightmare but I was offered a 70 per cent hike in my salary, a new designation and more responsibility. I had no relatives or friends in Mumbai, but I wanted to see how it would be to live on my own.”
So Kiran moved. It’s been over three years and though she took a few months adjusting to Mumbai, she is happy and doesn’t regret the move at all. “I have learnt to live on my own, something I wouldn’t have never learnt in Delhi. I was too sheltered there,” says Kiran.
Kiran was lucky she grew to like her new home. Many don’t. But even then, no one talks of returning home as long as his / her career/life is on the right track. Mumbai boy Roysten Pinto, brand manager with a leading retail chain, who moved to Bangalore after completing an MBA from Mumbai a few months ago, hasn’t really grown to like his new home but says he isn’t returning to Mumbai in a hurry. “For me, my job is my priority. The location is secondary. Yes, I miss Mumbai but the only way I will come back is if I get a good enough or better job. My return will not be at the cost of my job,’ he says. Badola feels the same way. He says he won’t hesitate to move again for the sake of his career. “If the opportunity arises elsewhere and I have a chance to make it big, I’ll be a fool not to take it up,” he says.
Strangely, it’s not always the young and restless who want to move cities in search of the perfect job. Often, parents push their children to move out because they know bigger cities mean better jobs and fatter salaries.
Take graphics designer Rajat Mehra who studied in Ahmedabad, completed his post graduation from a Baroda college and was working as a web graphics designer in Ahmedabad when his mother spotted an ad in the paper for an opening in Delhi. Rajat wasn’t sure that he wanted to move out of his hometown but his mother urged him to apply.
He got the job and moved to Delhi. “It was good I moved. It was a kind of a take-off point,” he says referring to his escalating career graph that started in Delhi, took him to Mumbai, back to Delhi and then again to Mumbai in a span of six years with a better salary and designation each time. He says each of his subsequent moves were taken solely to further his career.
Like we mentioned earlier, there are many advantages of shifting town. Bigger cities don’t only have more jobs on offer, the exposure is higher, the challenges bigger and not least of all, the increase in salary is significant. But that is not all.
Often, living away from home and a support system equips you with survival skills that you would have never developed if you had stayed at home.
“Living alone in Mumbai has taught me to be independent. It was only when I moved that I realized how sheltered I was and how difficult it is to juggle work, run a household and remember to pay bills on time,” laughs Kiran.
You learn other lessons too. Mumbai boy Rupesh Bhambwani, account manager with Ericsson, says his year-long stint in Hyderabad showed him to tame his big city aggression. “I was once loudly arguing with an auto rickshaw driver in Hyderabad when he told me ‘saab aap itna gussa kyon ho rahe ho’. That’s when I realized that living in cities has made us so rude. I realized I was being unnecessarily aggressive.”
Now back in Mumbai, Bhambwani however says he will probably not move city again, especially as he is now married. That brings us to a very important point: family. While it’s all right to move as often as you like when you are single, things change when you have a family.
He has seen what it takes to start life from scratch in a new city, without a support system and without knowing his way around, says Bhambwani. “I am comfortable in Mumbai. I have a support system. I am also married now and wouldn’t want to upturn the apple cart,” he adds.
“When you are married, you look at things from your spouse’s perspective too,” adds Mehra. He adds while he found Delhi a great place to work in when he was single, when he moved there with his wife, he realized how difficult it was for her to travel given the city’s pathetic public transport system and attitude towards women. “I had to ferry her everywhere,” he laughs. That was one of the reasons why, when he got a job again in Mumbai again, he took it.
Not a piece of cake
However, despite the salary hikes and exciting designations that a new job in a new city brings, there are some drawbacks. Mehra, who changed city four times in the past six years, says leaving a support system like family and friends for a new city only makes sense if you are more than adequately compensated for the shift.
“I have realized you shouldn’t agree to shift city unless it’s a really, really good offer because if you are not adequately compensated, you end up losing money instead as a bigger city is always more expensive. You also don’t have a support system and starting from scratch is quite difficult.”