Conversations with men and women of wit, humour and letters
Insight and practicality dictate Swapan Seth’s taste in reading. The CEO of the Delhi-based advertising agency EQUUS doesn’t think twice before abandoning a bad book. He is a man of few words, thinks socialising is excruciating, and holds his family close. What are you currently reading?
Poetry by Alvin Pang, Scale by Geoffrey West, and Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat.
Have any of your travels been inspired by the books you read? Has a book ever shaped your idea of a holiday, or made you want to discover a place?
Do you tend to leave a book mid-way if you don’t find it interesting enough, or do you finish every book you begin reading?
I get the drift of a book by the first paragraph. If it is crap, I dump it.
If you were to name one work of writing you'd frequently revisit, what would it be?
I read to be inspired, so it would be The Moral Bucket List by David Brooks.
You are often sharing and writing about trends and new experiences, whether they involve cinema, food, technology, or music. Is it safe to conclude that you have a finger on the pulse of the various cultural goings-on in the country, so to speak?
I find socialising agonising. I would rather stay home and learn three new things every day. And thanks to my mouse, I am a citizen of the world.
What are some of the magazines and periodicals you read regularly? Is there a podcast you are particularly partial towards?
I am going through the darkest period of my life in terms of what to read because there is so little to read. I love Mint Lounge, Wired, Bloomberg, Cereal, and August Man.
You are an avid art collector too. What kind of work are you usually drawn towards?
By the bizarre and the beautiful.
In advertising, how do you write about a dull or banal subject without resorting to buzzwords or jargon?
There are no dull products. Just dull people advertising them.
How important do you think is the process of evaluating your own work? Do you tend to be self-critical?
My brother loves everything I write. My wife and sons think I am most mediocre. So I have a fairly balanced jury.
Whom do you consider your mentors?
I admire my brother in several ways. My wife is my moral compass. My mother encourages me every moment of my life. With family like that, who needs mentors?
This interview was taken in March 2018.