Stories Of 10 Young Indians Who Are Leading Double Lives

Stories Of 10 Young Indians Who Are Leading Double Lives

“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.”

There are those who find solace between brackets and there are those who prefer to empty their framework of any specifics, choosing instead to exist between parallels, worlds and interests. And somehow, it is their refusal to lay claim to a singular possibility that makes them doubly (no pun intended) good at everything they do. Considering it’s a similar duality that keeps the flame beneath our feet, Homegrown set out on a mission to uncover other young Indian professionals who, in a certain sense of the term, have mastered the art of living ‘double lives.’

The sheer volume of nominations we received tell us that this dual lot may not be as rare a breed as we once imagined, but they’re certainly still just as intriguing. From photographers who also double up as artist managers to marketing professionals who are also fitness bloggers, there’s no reason you can’t do everything you love if you set your mind to it. [For those who missed the previous edition of this series, do read here].

Here’s the eight volume in the series of stories of an incredible group of individuals who have nothing in common besides deciding that they are more than just one person thriving in a state of dual existence.

I. Purnesh Dev Nikhanj | Chaos. Paradox. Truth.

Architect-Architectural Photographer/Fiction Writer

An architect by profession, Purnesh Dev Nikhanj started working as a photographer in college and started getting published in national magazines in 2007. After his graduation in 2011, he has since been published in numerous international platforms and worked with award-winning practices and clients around the world.

The Other Side

“Apart from being a visual storyteller, I have a great love for storytelling. I pen down my love for philosophy and psychology disguised in Fiction. As I believe that the best self-help books are Fiction because people learn through the journey of other characters they love. And to make the world more thoughtful we need to connect people to their deeper selves. Here is where deep messages in the veil of crazy Fiction come to great use!”

Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

“Duality is when you live different lives in one body without pretending to be someone else.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“I think when you follow a creative instinct it is the best way to balance things. You can be on a side far too much and be saturated but there’s this voice in the back of your head asking you to be in your element, listen to it! Also, I listen to Alan Watts - a dream of life or Bill Hicks - it’s just a ride!”

You can see his work on Instagram and his website.

II. Priyadarshini Kacker |Conflicted. Confused. Contradictory


Having completed her Masters in New York and a job in Bali, Priyadarshini Kacker has been working in the field of architecture and landscape architecture for the past 10 years. She currently heads a landscape firm as Design Director in New Delhi.

The Other Side

“I’ve always been drawing and designing but only this past year I’ve actively pursued it more than just a hobby. I’ve been working as an illustrator on the side for the past 6 months now, and recently also conducted a workshop at the Gaysi zine bazaar. Recently Homegrown and Indian Women Blog featured me.”

Priyadarshini Kacker

“Duality is complicated and conflicting.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“It’s easier to keep a distinction on what you do for the bread and what you do for the soul.”

Follow Priyadarshini’s work on Instagram.

III. Isha Punjabi | Passionate. Creative. Analytical.

Business-Consultant/Jewellery Designer

Isha Punjabi works for an open innovation and crowdfunding EdTech company called MindSumo where she leads their India expansion and marketing. She started with them in San Francisco and a year later relocated to India. Not just that, she also consults for a tech multinational called Speridian Technologies, handling their business design, customer success and presales for the Mumbai office - all of this at just 23 years old. “I got the complete Silicon Valley startup experience with lots of highs and lows and now I’m back to the Mumbai rut. Trying my best to do what I can to change the Indian mindset about innovation and design. It isn’t easy,” she says.

The Other Side

“I am a huge design buff, massive over-thinker and analyser. I’ve always loved artisan handwork and jewellery. I have been travelling across India as and when I get time to meet artists of various kinds to see how their craft and skill can be sustained. I also started a jewellery line just for fun a couple of weeks back. That’s my path to bringing together my super artsy/over-thinking brain with my knack for business.”

Isha Punjabi

“Duality is my strength and my differentiator if I decide to use it in the right way.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“With my new jewellery line, I try and bring together my creativity, business sense as well as my intense and over analyzing mind. The entire idea is to craft stories and conversations through jewellery. Focusing on taking inspiration from architecture, culture and nature. My current tiny collection takes inspiration from architecture. But the one I am currently working on explore power (think of living in an era with Trump, Putin Modi and bring jewellery into the picture).

For my future collections, I want to dwell in deeper and try and use jewellery as a medium to also spark conversations about sexual misconduct, depression and various other things. Yup, I think a lot and also have the weirdest ideas at times. This is my way to combine my love for business, design, good and important conversations and my overly deep thoughts.”

You can see Isha’s work on her Instagram page and website.

IV. Shivali Vakil | Passionate. Creative. Driven

Architect/Stationery Designer

Gaining an Undergraduate degree in Architecture Design from Parsons the New School for Design, New York, 29-year-old Shivali Vakil is a full-time architect and has been working in Mumbai with architect Hafeez Contractor for the past 3.5 years.

The Other Side

“Ever since I can remember I have always admired drawing and writing tools which led to me following my passion and designing Stationery along with my day job. Currently, I’m a practising Architect by day and the founder of Artchetype Studio, Stationery Design Studio by night/weekends.”

Shivali Vakil

“Duality is not finding differences between your profession and passion, but combining your skills to personalise everything you do.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“Being a full-time architect is not only creatively exhausting but also takes up to 10-11 hours of my day. But coming back home and returning to the computer or the drawing board refreshes me even after working all day. The drive to design can keep me awake for several nights in a row. I find a way- through all the exhaustion during weekdays and weekends. But honestly, it’s my parents, especially my mom who manages all the backend chores and makes sure the only thing I need to focus on is designing.”

Check out Shivali’s creations on Instagram.

V. Swetha Jayakumar | Unwavering. Focused. Realistic.


23-year-old Swetha Jayakumar started working right out of college with a design firm based in Chennai specializing in renovations and interiors. Her days are filled with juggling between chasing deadlines, solving issues on-site and helping make beautiful homes and spaces.

“I’m part of a small team so work in very intensive and we’re always on our toes to get things done. Even though I’ve had a bit of experience from my internships during college, when I started out here, I felt like I was suddenly pushed into the deep end but then I believe rising up to the challenge is the best way to learn and the amount of things I’ve learnt here over the past year has been IMMENSE,” she says.

The Other Side

“I love to create. It is my cure-all. I work on freelance illustration projects and this year has been incredible with clients like the Sharjah Book Authority and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. I hope I can keep working and collaborating with people and organisations like these. If I’m not freelancing for somebody I’m fully occupied with making personal pieces and just practising. I’ve been drawing since I was about 10-12 years old but it’s been only a couple years since I took up digital art as my main medium, so I’m constantly learning from other artists and the internet.

I’m a very anxious person and I overthink a lot when I draw is the only time my head is completely clear and truly peaceful.”

Swetha Jayakumar

“Duality is what pushes me forward, is my motivation in life so that I can successfully avoid the ‘routine life’ epidemic.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“I like to illustrate my negative energy or issues that bother me. So if there’s something stressful going on at work or my personal life, I try to put it out as an illustration and all the day’s toxicity is just gone. When I take on freelance projects though, I’m a completely different person. I live an hour away from my day job so I rush back home to work on revisions and get back in touch with my illustration clients and move on that side as well. IT IS CRAZY AND I LOVE IT. I’m always surprised by the amount of focus and discipline that comes out of me during those times.”

You can see her work on Instagram and website, and follow her personal Instagram here.

VI. Disha Bhuraria | Organised. Sensitive. Ambivert.

Communication & Brand Management Professional/Doodle Artist

After working for 2 years in the advertising industry, Disha Bhuraria quit and pursued her MBA in Brand Communication in 2015. A Communication and Brand Management Professional, she joined a healthcare startup in Noida with her MBA in hand as an Assistant Brand Manager in July 2017.

The Other Side

“What started with random scribblings while preparing for exams, became a serious passion in no time. There came a point when I would be doodling all day and night, I even got featured in a few blogs. I realised it gave me so much happiness that I started a venture by the name of Think Doodles.”

Disha Bhuraria

“Duality is making most of your life, about all the things you love. Being a brand manager and being a doodle artist gives me almost equal joy.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“Weekdays I’m a brand manager, weekends a doodler. Sometimes midweek detox after office is more doodling too.”

See her work here on Instagram.

VII. Sneha Susan Jacob | Go-Getter. Ideator. Ambitious.

Supply Chain Professional/Alzheimer’s Activist

Sneha Susan Jacob entered the massive world of Supply Chain in 2018 in the Purchasing Department for a Swedish automotive MNC. She never knew that she would like the stream as much as she did, even going on to gain a Masters in Supply Chain Management. Over 6 years she has worked in three different industries and in various spheres in each of the different Supply Chains, the latest being in the Planning Department for APAC in the food and beverage industry.

The Other Side

“My Grandmother was a patient of Alzheimer’s. I started reading up a lot about Alzheimer’s and wanted to raise awareness. The Elder Society is an untapped society and I wanted to make a difference to the people I grew up loving so much. I started by volunteering with the elders as the only millennial volunteer and even blogged about the senior citizens. I then went on to write about Alzheimer’s and the like.

Being a complex person, I want to now combine my love for home decor and design, a community centre (I always dreamt of being an Architect but missed my exam because of a family emergency), sustainable systems and senior citizens.”

“Duality is loving yourself - inside and out.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“By loving both sides, during my free time, my tea breaks - I’m always on the lookout for what I can do better, how I can better myself. I’m always reading online and offline on things which relate to my professional and personal side. Most importantly, I’m grateful for both sides cause they’ve given me an achiever perspective as well as an empathetic side.”

You can view more of Sneha’s accomplishments here.

VIII. Ankit Chugh | Perfectionist. Stubborn. Patient.

Dental Surgeon/Music Producer & Artist Manager

A practising Dental Surgeon since 2016, 28-year-old Ankit Chugh works with his Dentist parents at their private practice in New Delhi. He interned at Maulana Azad Dental Hospital in Delhi after completing his studies in Pune and Faridabad.

The Other Side

“I am a music producer (Karv) and co-founder of an artist management company (TAABIIR). I have been producing music since 2010 and I am releasing my first album on 23rd November. Simultaneously I co-founded TAABIIR in March 2017 and also wrote for for 8 months (Music Business online magazine).”

Ankit Chugh

“Duality is invigorating.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“It just fits, to be honest. You do have to be careful about managing time and such, but honestly, that’s how I function! 9-6 PM I’m in the clinic, 7 PM till whenever I’m in my studio taking care of my artists and writing music.”

Follow Ankit of his numerous endeavours on Facebook (personal, music and artist management), Instagram (personal, music, dentistry and artist management) and Soundcloud.

IX. Dheeraj Singh | Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans

Call Centre Professional/Mural Artist

“It’s nothing like what people say about BPOs,” says 21-year-old Dheeraj Singh. He’s been working at a call centre in Thane for 3 months now trying to fund himself after completing his college education with a degree in Computer Applications earlier this year.

The Other Side

“Mural Artist – that’s what I want to become and so in my free time I look for walls where, without any hindrance, I can put up my ideas, and I want to fight for this cause I choose to live and not just survive.”

Dheeraj Singh

“Duality is like a superpower, you can be what you want and live and that too without hurting anyone in the process.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“I suck at time management but it’s just the excitement of seeing my ideas on a wall that keeps me going.”

You can see his work on his Instagram page.

X. Altamash Sayed | Passionate. Real. Jugaadoo

Interactive Media Professional/Skateboarder

As a passion project, Altamash Sayed got together with a few friends – a developer and an animator – and started developing innovative technology inspired brand experiences. Soon, they met someone who was keen on starting a company, so they teamed up and have been doing great brand work ever since. Creating a beautiful, harmonious amalgamation of technology and physical space, Sayed and company have been creating unforgettable brand experiences.

The Other Side

“The other side is a skateboarding enthusiast. We used to skate in an old dilapidated building in Nepean sea road every weekend. And once we were kicked out of the spot by some goons from the surrounding area. That day I decided it’s time we should have our own skatepark. I started approaching the mayor of Navi Mumbai and I managed to chase him for over a year and he finally gave a go-ahead on a skatepark in Nerul Navi Mumbai. So we called Nick Smith aka the godfather of Indian skateboarding and along with a couple of skateboarders from all over India, we started making our park.

But unfortunately, due to some permission issues, the project was stalled midway and we were left with a half complete park. I was doing all of this while doing my job and my boss at work was very supportive of me chasing this skatepark dream. I still didn’t stop chasing, after chasing for over a year kalpataru finally gave us the contract and we are going to build a skatepark in Thane soon. I won’t stop at anything till we have as many parks in India. I am still working in a company and do all of that while doing my primary work of interactive media.”

On Balancing Both Worlds

“You have to be very clear about your passion to everyone whom you work with. People respect and support you for being passionate.”

You can follow Altamash Sayed on Facebook.

Featured image: (L) Disha Bhuraria & (R) Purnesh Dev Nikhanj.

All images have been provided by the contributors.

If you liked this article we suggest you read:

Related Stories

No stories found.