Should we become storm avoiders?

Storm chasing is broadly defined as the deliberate pursuit of any severe weather phenomenon, regardless of motive, but most commonly for curiosity, adventure, scientific investigation, or for news or media coverage. A person who chases storms is known as a storm chaser or simply a chaser.

Storm chasing

Delhi. Hate to love it. Love to hate it.

Living here is a deal with the devil. There is so much fun to have and luxurious comfort to enjoy. But the holy trifecta is all messed up. The air is visibly terrible for half the year, and the water and soil aren’t that great either.

So what do you do? Where do you go? How do you make it happen?

Where do we go – that’s the question we’ve dwelled on quite a bit. We keep coming back to it every few months. This time, I felt like we made a bit of a breakthrough so I decided to write about it. Call it putting a stake in the ground. I am writing this here to set a reference point for our future selves.

Now, what do we need from a place to live? We want it –

  • To be a reasonably urban area. Other people fantasise about living in a remote rural area, not us. We want to be within cycling distance from a Starbucks/Fabindia (or Blue Tokai/Uniqlo to be completely honest).
  • To have a clean environment (air, water, soil). Obviously.
  • To provide us social and cultural security. Our lives or identities shouldn’t be under threat.
  • To have not-extreme weather. Historically speaking, of course, we don’t know what climate change has in store.
  • To be fairly close to friends and family. We don’t want to do the AM/PM calculation just to talk to the people we love.

We have heard of a few people who have had to cut their rural life dream short because of their kids’ education. We are not too worried about schooling our (future, if at all) kids. We have enough academic ability going for us to be able to semi-homeschool them just fine.

So where do we go then? Let’s look at the candidates. They fall under two brackets –

  1. Semi-metropolitan cities in India: Chandigarh, Pune, Panaji, Indore etc.
  2. Places in Europe or the Commonwealth: Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand (jeez this sounds like a Punjabi immigration consultant ad…) and Western/Southern Europe.

On moving to another country… assuming the employment and immigration process is taken care of by our aforementioned academic ability, there are a few more considerations.

  1. In order to have a good time in a new country, we’ll have to at least learn the local language and make efforts to assimilate within the culture. Even moving to a different state in India holds similar requirements (mind blowing, I know).
  2. When you move to a new country, you seek stability and quality. Let’s assume that quality is a given in the first-world. But is stability? An immigrant is usually the first person in the line of fire in case of any economic/social/political instability. As a person of colour with a visible religious marker, I do not have the confidence to convince myself that I and my family will be alright in the face of extremism. They are not going to check our passports before hurting us. Thus, if our stability is always under question, then what’s the point of moving to another country? In India, thanks to our socio-economic privilege, at least our lives aren’t under constant threat. And if it ever had to be, I think I will feel more secure and ‘at home’ here than anywhere else.

When people move to a new country, they usually do it with a certain conviction. Where does that conviction come from? I don’t know for sure but often they are escaping adverse personal/economic situations and seeking the comforts of a developed nation. That situation does not apply to us. Ours is a very privileged adversity.

Further, we don’t have it in us to move to a new city/country for the sake of our children’s future, which seems to be the fundamental principle on which most blueprints are based. We are not that sacrificial. We are selfish. We want our present to be good too. If we ain’t truly enjoying ourselves, how can our dependents really have fun?

In the face of everything that I have mentioned so far, I find myself lacking the conviction to move to another country.

That leaves us with our Indian semi-metropolises. I won’t go into the details of our evaluation process but we have a certain order of preference among the cities that qualify for our requirements. Unfortunately, there is no one clear winner. I mean, Delhi would be a clear winner if it didn’t have any environmental issues. Similarly, every other place has some things going well for it, and some others that are not.

For example, we really liked Panaji when we were in Goa for our honeymoon. It has a Fabindia, a Starbucks, and a Crossword book store. But it probably has municipality issues, year-round mould and sticky summers. Chandigarh has a great municipality. It has several Fabindia outlets, a Blue Tokai, and even a Bahrisons! But it’s a sleepy town with similar air quality issues as Delhi.

You get the drift. There are pros and cons for every other place on our list.

So what do we do?

This is where the storm avoidance comes in.

City X makes sense today. But we can’t say for sure that it’ll make sense five years from now. What if it turns out that we unavoidably need to be close to family? Or what if we get the opportunity of dreams in another city/country? You never know. Five years is a long time.

So we can move to City X right now because it is clean and quiet. And in a few years when/if it becomes uninhabitable (for us), we’ll run our evaluation process again and find another city/country to move to. Ad infinitum/ad mortem, whichever happens first.

Like how a storm chaser pursues severe weather phenomenon, we will avoid severe weather/personal phenomenon instead.

From a decision-making perspective, I find this strategy to be fairly robust. Whether it is truly anti-fragile I am not sure. But this way we base our decision on what seems like a reasonable argument for the mid-term today, which is about as much foresight you can reasonably possess without factoring in dumb luck.

In a few years, our situation and our capacities will be different. So expecting our decision today to be justifiable for that unknown future seems unreasonably cheeky.

So, tell me friends and well-wishers, should we become storm avoiders?

Email/text as always.

P.S. We are not moving anywhere anytime soon. We still have 16 months on our lease here in Delhi. Also, wherever we do decide to move, I need to check where the closest post office is first. You know, for them speed posts.

Want some of my existential nonsense in your inbox?
Cheers! See you soon.

Last modified: Jan 18, 2024