It has always intrigued me that the biggest industrialists in the world who are also the biggest polluters also want a patch of pristine green for their children. A dichotomy of knowing what the right, just and natural thing to do is and yet not doing it. Expecting the finest and most fair treatment for yourself but not extending the same to others, even when it is easy to do so.

It is postulated that people in positions of power, from corporates to governments are at least sociopaths, if not outright psychopaths. The only way to rise to the top…


Many people suffer from a nostalgia for a time they never lived. The social media shorthand for this romantic affliction is ‘old soul’. Offline pathology is way more complicated.

The past is invariably seen through rose tinted glasses. From lost youth at a personal level to lost property at a family level to lost glory at a civilization level. A sticky belief that things were better in the past. But despite all our Throwback Thursdays, the Pandemic has lasted a year and it has changed the world in lasting ways.

Some people will never stop wearing masks, shaking hands may…


Before there were malls there were shopping centers. There still are, in suburbs and in small towns. From the very specific ‘Ladiej Delicates’ to very broad ‘Fancy Items’ the sporadic shops in these shopping centers cover everything Finance Ministers promise but never deliver.

The opening and shutting down of these small businesses is the real story of our economy and fickle fashion sense. Jeans become shorter and longer, Pani Puri stalls start selling waffles but the one shop that never shuts down is that of the Astrologer. Recession only results in higher footfall. In a country where Vastu consultants are…


Politics is the collective outsourcing of our hypocrisy. It is less burdensome than self-loathing and more efficient than armed conflict. Yet we hold politicians to unreasonable standards that we ourselves fail at even though our jobs do no require as much treachery.

As a result, politicians constantly accuse each other of politicizing important issues in an exercise of peak pointlessness. Of course everything is political. How else will the ministers do their job? Quantum physics?

It is this naivete that keeps us from reaching the objectiveness of American Presidential debates. As uncivil as they have become, at least their politicians…


In the middle of recording a podcast that never got released, my good friend CowTuk asked me, “What is your priority for the next 10 years?” I didn’t have to think a lot about it. The answer is, “Making peace with ageing.” Apart from all the social and professional challenges the body will also keep deteriorating. And nothing prepares us for the kind of pressure that puts on everything else. Graying hair is only the simplest manifestation. Your movements become slower, you can’t go without sleep and hangovers keep getting worse. Things you associate with old age already start in…


I have been writing for over a decade. When I look back at the significant archive I have accumulated I often find it naive but never alien. I have distinct memories of the version of me who wrote those words. It is scary to open the past when it is in such condensed form. But it is often reassuring as well. To see a teenage suburban kid battling identity and hormones and still trying to find meaning in a pre-4G India.

But language has limitations. So does art and even thought. Each person is only a finite sum of ideas…


Perhaps every Yug calls itself KalYug to pardon itself of its sins. The myth of an earlier golden age is so prevalent across cultures that it makes its way down to family legends. All Indian families have a SoneKiChidiya story about lost riches and chronic bad luck. Even partition families who survived genocides and British rule look back fondly…at least the air was cleaner. The most narcotic drug in the world is past glory. At an individual level childhood is always a dreamland of simplicity and good intentions. It later gets corrupted by circumstance and society and betrayals. …


Between cold showers and ‘hot yoga’ pretty much everything that can be done with the mind and body has been explored, branded and debunked. Yet happiness remains just as elusive. And the difference between self-love and narcissism grower thinner with every new commercial.

Even the most privileged learning curves go from ignorance to socialism to capitalism to indifference. From wanting to change the world to at least wanting to change one’s eating habits, life is an ongoing process of realizing our own futility. The resulting frustration manifests in conflicts personal and national. …


The essential nature of pride is that it is hurt very easily. More external the source of the pride, more brittle it is. Even in a stable and comfortable present, it finds historical reasons to get hurt. Insecure in its own existence. Born as it is out of desperation. A quick fix. A short cut. A childish solution to dealing with the complexity of the world. Which is why it has always been easy to organize large groups of angry people. The mob has always been at the door, threatening to burn everything down. It is only a rare mix…


The most dangerous people in the world are the ones who believe they are doing God’s work.

From ISIS to your own Mom.

If you are made to believe that you are working for the Supreme authority and rewards are guaranteed in the next life, no other employee, volunteer or soldier can match your commitment or undercut your CTC.

That is how crusades are launched, countries are divided and elections are won. Strategy is for the historians and statisticians to retrofit.

Managers can motivate but leaders can instigate. And unfortunately, even in the online world, Jungle law still prevails. …

Punit Pania

Everything is a coping mechanism.

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