Opinion and Editorial

KT Edit: Country roads, take me home... to the place I belong

joydeep@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 24, 2021

I have a plan half-ready to head off to a pastoral nook in Nepal, facing the mighty Himalayas: all I need is moral courage

Disengagement is gaining currency among city slickers like me. Data suggests that many of us are suffering from a growing ennui because of a plastic urban life, where uncertainties have heightened due to the raging viral outbreak.

Rat race is no longer the name of the game, as the contagion continues to wreak havoc for the second year running.

An impression of age-neutral insouciance appears to be the primary trigger for our penchant for reverse migration, because most of us are seeking to pivot away from urban spaces.

The pastoral landscape — be it sun and sands by the sea or sylvan surroundings in the hills — is fast emerging as a sought-after destination for jaded city slickers.

I, too, belong to that category. Big city and bright lights no longer attract me. My outlook towards life has undergone a sea-change in the past couple of years as redundancy has become the new normal due to the pandemic-induced economic convulsions. Vaulting professional ambitions and deft career moves are clearly a thing of the past for me.

I’m increasingly finding joy in the moral aphorism “sometimes it’s just the little things that make you happy”. However, I’ve been conflicted for a while about where to head to — will it be by the sea or the hills?

Both locales have their intrinsic charm, but I’m more inclined towards the hills. The Himalayas are a natural choice because of my familiarity since formative years. And Nepal — however dysfunctional it may have been in popular perception of late — is the country to retire to. It’s a mythical Xanadu, where I plan to log off from the humdrum of urban life.

I’ve been actively considering settling down at Lamatar, which is located on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley, or Sarangkot near Pokhara, the lake city in western Nepal. I’d like to enjoy the subtle power of uncomfortable silences in these sylvan surroundings and try to equip myself with a few life skills that I awfully lack.

Prolonged silences hanging in the air may be awkward for those like me, who like a good chatter, but I also believe moments of silence amid pastoral surroundings — with your significant other in tow — can be exhilarating for bonding and togetherness.

I’ve drawn up a bucket list in my bid to jump on the reverse migration bandwagon.

I’d like to pursue bucolic activities such as making cheese.

I’d like to head to the Langtang Valley, that traces the origin of the erstwhile Himalayan kingdom’s beloved yak cheese.

I’d like to try my hand at playing the transverse flute and one-string plucked lute, which are indigenous Nepalese musical instruments that embody the rich cultural tapestry of the sounds of Himalayan music.

If “small is beautiful” and “greed is not good” your mantras, then abandoning cityscapes should come naturally to you. I’ve come to terms with the downsides of a rural setting in an underdeveloped country such as Nepal. Civic amenities such as private healthcare services, uninterrupted access to power and high-speed Internet, malls and fine dining restaurants may be few and far between, but the upside of living life on its own terms can be far more alluring.

I’d like to rephrase the late American country singer John Denver’s chartbuster as I firm up my relocation plans:

“Almost heaven, Nepal

Himalayan Mountains, Trishuli and Bhote Kosi Rivers

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong...”


Joydeep Sengupta

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