The Story Rules Podcast

E16: Santosh Desai: Pre-eminent chronicler of India's culture

May 20, 2022 Ravishankar
The Story Rules Podcast
E16: Santosh Desai: Pre-eminent chronicler of India's culture
Show Notes

“The only thing I would say is ask fundamental questions; ask stupid questions; insight lies in interrogating the obvious. It lies in asking the obvious. It’s not new knowledge, it’s in the old knowledge. It’s in asking 'why' to the most basic questions. The most basic questions are the ones that I think will give the most interesting answers.”

That is Santosh Desai - a leader who wears many hats. Santosh headed an ad-agency, currently heads a brand consulting firm, is a published author and a long-time columnist for the Times of India. 

His weekly column City-city Bang-Bang - which he has been writing for 17 long years - paints a vivid, relatable yet surprising portrait of India’s fascinating culture. Some of these columns have been compiled in a book called 'Mother Pious Lady: Making Sense of Everyday India'. 

I’ve always been a fan of Santosh’s work. Specifically, his stellar observational skills (which to my surprise, he says are not that great!), his ability to see the unusual in the usual and his almost poetic writing abilities. 

In this conversation, we dive into the secrets of how Santosh Desai does his magic. How does he view the world with his unique fundamental questions. How he finds patterns and mental models that help him interpret and understand this world… and how he finally brings it all on paper with his lucid and lyrical prose. 

It is an eye-opening conversation, especially for left-brain-heavy folks like me who tend to over-rely on data, logic and structure!

Episode Links:
Santosh's website and Twitter handle
Santosh's essay series 'City City Bang Bang' in the Times of India
His book:  'Mother Pious Lady: Making Sense of Everyday India'.
The Bharat Darshan reports on the Future Brands Consulting website