A decade ago, during my aspiring travel blogger days, I watched this movie called Ye Jawanee Hai Deewaanee. A discussion from the movie resonated with me and has stayed with me throughout the years. The conversation that lingers at the end of the movie between Deepika and Ranbir revolves around the comparison of their life experiences.

Ranbir’s adventures are extravagant and solitary, set in exotic locations, while Deepika’s are rooted in local culture and revolve around family and friends. Although their conversation pertains to travel, it is equally applicable to our everyday lives.

As part of my work with a South East Asian company, I had the opportunity to explore numerous countries in the region. I even contemplated the possibility of relocating. 

Forget a first world country like Singapore, if you even compare the infrastructure and life in Jakarta with any city in India, Jakarta wins. Anyone who has spent some time in Jakarta will tell you that. Moreover, residing there grants you the privilege of easily visiting multiple neighboring countries during extended weekends.

But whenever I think about where to live, the question always comes back: What matters for long-term happiness?

Is it worth walking the streets of Indiranagar, where everything is dug up, to meet a friend you have known for 10 years? With someone you can talk about whatever you want? Or is it better to live in a city where you have 10 times the options to spend your time (but alone)? If you can fly to Bali whenever you want, is it worth giving up poker nights and football with friends?

Is stability, choosing a place to call home and establishing roots, more valuable than the richness and diversity of experiences? What will matter to me when I am 40? Paying taxes in India with limited benefits but lower expenses, where visiting family and friends is affordable and frequent, or opting for a location like Singapore with its advantageous tax system and superior infrastructure, but at the cost of distant friendships maintained through Whatsapp?

If you read my blog, you know I have been thinking about this for years.

Something to ponder. I just came back after spending a month in Indonesia and then Japan. And the more time I spend abroad, the more I think about whether the trade offs I am making are worth it.