People have migrated ever since mankind evolved on earth – to safer grounds, for food, for better living conditions, for a better education, and, perhaps, out of boredom and a need for adventure. From the center of Africa across the (then closer and joined) continents to Asia, Europe, North America). There, always, is some driving factor that makes us leave everything we have (family, friends, places, social status) to move to apparently greener pastures. And science has played a critical role in supporting these patterns (the Roman invention of the wheel, the British commercialization of the railroad train, the American love affair with the automobile and plane, …)

Out of curiosity, I studied the migratory patterns of my family and, in doing so, found myself wondering about where my kids might end up. First, the facts:

  • My (paternal) grandfather moved his family from Kakinada to Madras in the early 1900s, a distance of 675 kilometers and journey by boat or train of about 24 hours so he could build his businesses (pharma distribution and banking). He maintained two homes and maintained tight connections with Kakinada till his businesses suddenly collapsed and he died. (View a map of the Indian Railway system in the area circa 1914)
  • My father, upon graduation, moved from Bangalore to New Delhi in 1950, a distance of ~2222 kilometers and a journey of about 36 hours, so he could work for the Indian Federal Civil Aviation Agency (DGCA). He traveled the world, returned to Bangalore for most of his life before living with us in California.
  • I grew up in Bangalore and moved 16,573 kilometers and a journey of ~24 hours to Stanford upon graduation in 1985. We’ve since travelled the world and have established our primary home in Palo Alto.

As I look at this admittedly unscientific data set, I hypothesize that every generation moves in “migratory chunks” of a day. Hence my “24 hour migration” rule.

Why ~24 hours? Technology aside, I wonder if there is a fundamental need for security and a need to “anchored’ and “close to your roots.” Like a gravitational field, does the wonder lust get balanced by the need to be anchored?

Which leaves me wondering:

  • Where science might take my kids – 24 hours away from Palo Alto?? Moon is the closest spot (that can currently be made habitable) that crosses my mind; and
  • Why do some people NEVER move… and often grow within a stone’s throw of their parental home? (thanks, Trish, for seeding this complementary thought!)

Ideas, anyone?

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