This pandemic a surprising number of young people have expressed the desire to move from cities to rural areas and live a simple farming life. While I totally understand the appeal, here’s some warning from a city person who’s lived in villages a bit…
I doubt anyone of you is actually going to do it, but you should still know this – running off to a village might not be the escape from the rat race you’re looking for. Before we dive in to the slightly dream shattering reality, here’s a picture during the Punjab elections when we took a break and showered in a random farmer’s tube well. We did this a lot, and I highly recommend it!
- It’s only fun when you don’t depend on it for your income. Farming is really HARD. Our farmers are super hard working and barely scrape by. It’s very unlikely your fancy college degreed self will do any better.
- Making money in villages is way harder than you can imagine and that’s why so many people migrate to cities. If you can work remotely for a company, it can potentially work, but then you might not be escaping the rat race.
- Rural electricity grids still suck. The power situation is MUCH better than a few years ago, which means you’ll get electricity more hours (16-24 depending on area), but that doesn’t mean you can run air conditioning. The voltage is a disaster and the compressor will never switch on in a lot of villages.
- Broadband internet is non existent, and mobile data or BSNL WiMax shall not get you netflix! [That’s why I’ve always rooted for the National Fibre Optic Network to get built, and that’s currently in progress.]
- You’ll likely be extremely bored. There’s no office to go to, no real source of entertainment and not many potential friends (village diversity in people is limited, you’re unlikely to find people interested in the same things you’re interested in and don’t expect them to be as exposed to different thought as your city friends – most haven’t had the same opportunity yet).
- Related to above: most villages will suck all inspiration out of you. Most of the enterprising people have migrated to cities. The young people to educational institutions and the middle aged in search of work. There are exceptions, but not too many and not even in every village.
Our fields in my native village:
- Caste and privilege is real. You’ll know pretty fast where you fit in the hierarchy, and being at the top might not be great either, even though it is obviously and definitely better.
- Life will be SLOWWW. Crops and animals both take months to grow. There is no real way to speed it up. Most days you’ll be walking around doing nothing. The manual labour will be done by someone else, because it’s cheap and because you’re terrible at it. So you really don’t have much in terms of work.
- Village politics is scary as hell. And there’s a lot of it. Small slights can turn huge and in major parts of India people hate seeing their neighbors succeed. This is very evident in Indian villages – to the extent of criminal sabotage.
- Some parts like Punjab have a major drug issue, others have a major Alcoholism issue. I believe it stems from the fact that there really isn’t much else to do, but you’ll see some sad stuff because of this.
- You won’t be able to buy a lot of things. Although stuff like Maggi is now ubiquitous, you’ll have to travel to the nearest city for most of the other stuff.
There’s a lot more I could write, but I think you get the idea… There are major advantages, like you’ll have super low expenses and a moderately comfortable life without pollution or city noise. It still isn’t the utopia a lot of people are imagining though, and village life will likely feel MUCH harder than your urban lifestyle with a corporate job.
PS: Thanks for reading till the end. Your opinions, experiences and comments are always appreciated, so comment below.
Bonus clip: Here’s a video from my family’s pond in our village. We recently (2 years ago) started a small experiment with fishery there! That’s a topic for another post though…