Ashwini Gangal

Ashwini is a journalist and fiction writer. Wait, switching to first person... 

After completing a rigorous masters degree in clinical psychology, I switched fields completely and worked as a journalist at afaqs, India's most trusted news publication, for 12 years. My beat was advertising-and-marketing. Which means, I made a career out of interviewing people who made advertisements. A big part of the job was analyzing brand strategy.

At afaqs, I learnt the art of taking in-depth interviews (in closed rooms, moving vehicles, on stage, across screens), business writing, feature writing, soft profiling, news reporting, copy editing, website management, print magazine production and team leadership/people management. Here, I also learnt how to put events together for a live audience. That said, what I really learnt here is the meaning of the words professionalism and work ethic.

My last held designation at this publication was managing editor. In mid-2022, I moved on from afaqs, to pursue my passion - poetry and fiction writing. Somewhere around the same time I also migrated from Mumbai to California and that's a whole different story!

Currently, I am enjoying this creatively energising sabbatical, as I nurse my neuroses, eat through my savings and try not to go completely mad. To stay afloat, I edit and write for local newspapers, most recently India Currents and Palo Alto Online.

I am an insatiable reader. To sound intelligent I sometimes make intense eye contact with people over the rim of my wine glass and tell them I love reading Dostoevsky and Nietzsche (I've mastered the first; still working on the pronunciation of the latter), but authors I actually enjoy are Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak, Jhumpa Lahiri, JK Rowling, George RR Martin, Donna Tartt, Salman Rushdie, Oliver Sacks, Kay Redfield Jamison, Conn Iggulden, Yuval Noah Harari, Gabriel García Márquez, Simon Schama.... and oh, I'm very taken by the Paris Review Interviews.

I am a social media recluse though it may not seem that way. If I meet the people I follow online, in all probability, I will not recognise them.

My favourite movies are Aamis (Assamese), Devrai (Marathi), Hachi: A Dog's Tale (English), Charlie 777 (Kannada) and Swades (Hindi) but that doesn't mean I can watch them over and over again. Poacher (Malayalam) and Fauda (Hebrew, Arabic) are among my fav TV shows.

On most days, I worship at the altar of Richard Dawkins.

I live in a sleepless time zone at the intersection of Mumbai, Hong Kong and San Francisco.