Just what the doctor ordered


New Delhi
Swapan Seth, CEO of Equus Red Cell, has started a successful Facebook community called Swapan's Daily Dose.
Swapan Seth, CEO of Equus Red Cell, like a good copywriter, describes his latest passion with startling imagery: “I am a high-class rag-picker. I go through all the garbage and find that cigarette pack with two sticks left in it or that squeezed toothpaste tube with just a little still in it.
I am a filter.”
Early this year, Seth started a Facebook community called Swapan’s Daily Dose (some enthusiasts have started calling it SDD, which Seth hates). The Daily Dose’s mandate is described thus on its homepage: “Daily tip from me on something nice: a dish, a restaurant, a wine, a place to stay in, a pickle to buy, a CD to listen to, a DVD to watch, great places to get food from, artists to collect, books to read. I will post a tip a day. You can look out for it.”
Seth says that all this first started off informally when people — family and friends — would ask him for tips on this, that and the other. Where should one stay in Paris, where can one stop for a decent meal en route to the airport from Kalkaji in Delhi, what gift should one buy her husband, were just some of the questions that Seth fielded on a weekly basis. Says Seth, “There is a scarcity of time and paucity of attention. Not very many people have the time to know everything.” Seth, on the other hand has no such problem. He says, “The Daily Dose is based on my interests and I am a curious son-of-a-b***h. My interests range from diapers to dancing shoes. I read everything that has been written.”
Actually, make that, “I read everything that has been written. And more.” For there are curious and interesting nuggets of information on Daily Dose which aren’t in the public domain. Recently, Seth posted actor Raj Kapoor’s recipe for dal makhni. And that had the Daily Dose buzzing with chatter. One happy person renamed it “buttery dal”. Another, after having tried the recipe, said that she had cut the butter quantity (the recipe called for 500 gm). Next up is Salman Khan’s recipe for Baghdadi zaffrani gosht. Seth says, “The recipes work very well for the Indian diaspora.”
Seth says he keeps a close watch on the number of people signing up for Daily Dose. He says, “I wanted to hit 1,000 members by May, and I did.” Upon reaching 900, Seth sent out a message saying that he wanted to reach 1,000. Just one day later, the Daily Dose had added 100 new members. Says Seth, “Sometimes people exit, and that infuriates me, because I am chasing a number.” This number-chasing has nothing to do with anything in particular but is reflective of the kind of person Seth is. He says honestly, “I am quite anal about these things.”

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The original list of signees to the Daily Dose were Seth’s friends. Now, says Seth, 90 per cent of the people on the list are people he has never ever met. But coming face-to-face with that 90 per cent online has been gratifying. He says, “You end up feeling that you are some kind of a support system.” This bond is felt by those receiving the Daily Dose as well.
Last month, Seth toyed with the idea of shutting down Daily Dose. His post on that received a welter of responses. Most begged Seth not to stop. He says of that time, “I wanted to start a concierge service, and that’s why I thought let me stop this. But I felt like a heel after all the mails I got asking me to continue.”
Continue he did, and every day Seth has to ponder what his post for the day should be. He says, “The poetry that I post, I know people like my brother don’t like, but the women swoon over it.” Other times, Seth worries that the posts can be too Delhi-centric or refer to something that only the very rich can access. Then his post on medicine-related stuff might get an angry response from the doctors. He specifically mentions colonic irrigation, which he once put on Daily Dose, to which a doctor immediately responded saying that the procedure is anything but beneficial, and Seth concedes that point.
Other than that, Seth says that people rarely pull him up for his posts. “I am,” he says, “careful about what I recommend.” Some people with commercial interests request him to post their product or service as a Daily Dose, but Seth is wary of that kind of pushing. He says, “I only recommend things that I am convinced about. I politely decline those with an agenda.”
The success of Daily Dose has set Seth wanting to take it offline. He says, “I am thinking of doing events in different cities. People in the community sometimes say that we should all meet. There are like-minded people here, and maybe it would be nice for everyone to meet.” More than any of this, what Seth makes happy about Daily Dose is that his two children are also members. He says, “At a subliminal level, there is a father-child communication happening through Daily Dose, which is better than maybe me spending two hours explaining these things to them.” It would not then be too cliched to say that Daily Dose is just what the doctor ordered.

First Published: Jun 21 2009 | 0:05 AM IST

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