Bombay was meant to be a punishment posting – one of those moves a professional sometimes needs to make to fast track their career while acknowledging that a personal price needs to be paid. I was certain that after completing the obligatory 2 years, I’d rush back to London, which I was convinced was the greatest city in the world and the only one where I would be truly at home. I was wrong. Bombay turned out to be such a wonderful experience that it has been really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I must now leave.
I’m going to miss my life here. Some of this is down to just plain luck and a bit of it was intelligent planning. One way or the other, my life here is charmed. People complain about the traffic here but if all the key elements of your life (work, school, stables, club, friends) are confined within a 5km radius, you really don’t see much traffic. Others complain about the lack of open spaces – I can spend mornings at the race course, evenings at the Willingdon and my kids have 2 parks within walking distance of the house – my Bombay has no shortage of open space and greenery. People say that there is a shortage of schools here – my daughter went to a wonderful play school and now goes to a great primary school. People complain that staff here can be unreliable – my employees are amazing individuals. People say housing is cramped and overpriced – I would not use either of those words to describe my apartment. And that’s only the half of it. We got lucky in so many other ways – we reconnected with old friends and made great new ones, I started playing polo again after a gap of 17 years, and Preeti and I are both as fit as we’ve ever been – I dropped 4 inches off my waistline within 6 months of arriving here and Preeti ran a half marathon earlier this year.
But despite everything, its the right time to go. India is still a relatively small market in my line of business and my career aspirations are best served in a global financial center for the next few years. Taxes are punitively high when you think about how little we get in return for them. But most importantly, there is still a large part of the planet that I have yet to explore, so many cities that I still want to live in. I thought Madras was home till I discovered London. Then it was London till Bombay showed me a quality of life that London never could. Using the same logic, there must be other amazing cities out there waiting to be lived in and properly discovered. Hong Kong is the next destination but 3 years from now, we could easily be moving to Sydney, New York, Dubai or some other great city. Transitions always come with their challenges but I think that they are ultimately worth the effort.
Lots of people have warned me that the nomadic lifestyle is all well and good until the kids grow a little older. They warn that continuously moving will leave my kids confused about their identity and lacking a place they can call ‘home’. All reasonable points but I’m not sure I agree. I spent my childhood in the same city and went to the same school for 14 years. But I am not sure I consider Madras my home any longer – I’m definitely more ‘at home’ in Bombay, London or New York. And while I made some lifelong friendships at school, I’ve got other equally good friends that I shared cities with for a much shorter period. I know of kids who spent their entire childhood moving around who grew up to be amazing people. I also know people who grown up with plenty of stability but ended up being really messed up adults. We all have notions of what the ideal childhood is but I am yet to see conclusive evidence that points in either direction. For the moment, I’m convinced that its in the best interest of my children that Preeti and I are happy with our lives and wake up each morning looking forward to the day ahead of us. The move to Hong Kong is a step in that direction. Wish me luck.