A quick note:

Roly Bagnall was one of the first people to get in touch with us when we launched Esc.

He left his job in a bank in London to work in micro-finance in India. He has only been in Mumbai for one night (he arrived yesterday) and he sent us this!

He is a proper Esc Hero. An absolute pleasure to post his story on Esc. We wish him and his girlfriend the best of luck.

Esc Hero #3: ‘It’s hot, sweaty, smelly, noisy, dirty, busy and hectic but better than the office. Namaste.’

1. What are you doing?

I have just landed in Mumbai, India to get a job working in micro-finance.

2. What did you do before ?

I worked for two and a half years with Bank of New York Mellon. This proved to be a great step into the asset management industry.

3. How long have you dreamt of doing what you are doing?

Having never travelled extensively I have longed to see parts of the world, however I felt compelled to make my mark in the workplace to justify a decent trip. I suppose 6 months ago was when I was no longer attached to the concept of earning a crust and was willing to take the plunge. Not an easy decision.

Mumbai4. What was your ‘Moment of Truth’ when you realised that you would turn the dream into a reality?

I think we all long for a little freedom without the constraint of a 9-5, paying bills etc. I had to make a tough decision as to whether I could forfeit a few years worth of savings that could go towards a mortgage or leave it in a long trail behind me throughout some of the poorest but most wonderful parts of the world.

Unfortunately the credit crunch was fairly indiscriminatory and left many people either without a job or having to tread water, work longer hours, or take pay cuts whilst waiting for prospects to pick up. Working with my nose to the grindstone in a bland air conditioned office was not enough.

5. From a practical perspective, how did you plan for it?

The first commitment was simply to buy some flight tickets. From here-on we simply had ensure that we had the necessary paperwork, vaccinations and funds. All in all it was quite an arduous process. It has to be said that the preparations were fairly hectic. We didn’t book a hotel to stay in upon arrival, preferring to go with it. This was only because we landed at 11am. I haven’t made rigid plans but have a loose objective as I get the impression plan will go out of the window when trying to get anything done in India!

6. How are you funding it?

Just putting a couple of hundred quid aside each month soon adds up. Of course this may mean sacrificing the occasional night out in London or dinner in a restaurant but then it should buy you a whole lot more on your travels.

7. What was the hardest thing about making this happen?

It has been difficult to make contact with companies in India which is why my objective has changed slightly. This will put the onus on me to go out and find what I want.

8. What has been the best thing about having made this happen?

The most liberating feeling has been the warm send-off from my colleagues in London. It was a big decision and I made some good friends, however they will still be there when I return. Getting away from my desk at long last is splendid. I know that this is going to be a rich and memorable experience (note I don’t say a wonderful one – I just can’t tell yet!)

9. What advice would you give to other people who want to do something similar?

Set your sights, even if they seem unrealistic, then work step by step towards it. It’ll take some time and effort but once you’ve made the leap it all seems worth it in the end.

10. What resources did you find really useful?

The usual tourist stuff is imperative; rough guides etc

Reading on India:

Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (staggering)

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (a real and modern aspect of India)

Shantaram by Gregory Roberts (Romantic and rich)

City of Djinns by William Dalrymple (W.D. is hailed as the best travel writer of his generation) and many more….

11. What advice do you have for Escape the City members?

Get out of your comfort zone. It’s hot, sweaty, smelly, noisy, dirty, busy and hectic but better than the office. Namaste.


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