As work from home becomes a norm, city dwellers find a ‘home’ in hills

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Written by Gagan Singh | Shimla | October 22, 2020 10:36:18 pm

Besides those moving permanently to Himachal, many people working from home shift to the hills a few months each year.

When Delhi resident Joy Chowdhury landed a work-from-home job as a digital marketing executive, he decided to leave the hustle-bustle of the National Capital and move to the hills. For over a year now, he has been living at various places in Himachal Pradesh while continuing with his work over the internet.

With a rising trend of working digitally from home, many young professionals such as Chowdhury have chosen to shift from metropolitan cities to the hills of Himachal in recent years.

“The network connectivity here is sufficient for my work, and living in this terrain has enhanced my fitness and endurance – one has to walk uphill for three kilometres from the nearest road to my home, and I often go for trekking trips. I am learning new things everyday – like how to light a good fire, or use various herbs for curing ailments. I also assist local veterinary doctors while treating cattle. Living here makes me feel more connected to Mother Earth,” said 36-year-old Chowdhury, who currently lives in an orchard in Shirot village near Multhan in Kangra district, along with three dogs he has adopted.

Tanya Roy, who shifted from Delhi to Himachal more than four years ago, said that she plans to live here forever. “I may join a nunnery in Spiti, but I will never leave this place,” said Roy, who currently works with a start-up incubator in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kamand in Mandi.

Even during the lockdown, when Roy’s ecotourism venture in the Spiti valley came to a halt, she decided to stay put in Kaza and started teaching yoga online before she landed the job in Mandi. Unlike many other professional migrants who leave the state during winters, Roy lives here throughout the year and has spent several freezing winters in Spiti. She added that she dreams of watching Himachal develop in a sustainable manner.

Besides those moving permanently to Himachal, many people working from home shift to the hills a few months each year. Aditya Thakur, a resident of Jibhi, said that several groups of people came to stay and work in Jibhi after the state opened up its borders in September. “Some of them previously held regular office jobs which got converted into work-from-home during the Covid pandemic,” he said.

Priyanka, 34, a film-maker who stays in Manali, said that adapting to a changed environment also brings challenges. “Power supply often gets disrupted during the winter months, and a small town does not offer the anonymity found in a big city. But people here are helpful and the living expenses are lower,” she said.

Chowdhury, who intervened to help a group of injured labourers attacked in a hate crime in Barot in April, said that some locals tried to harass him after the incident. “So I shifted from Barot to another village in the area, and all is well again,” he said.

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