Singh is King


Q. Tell us a lit­tle about your­self— how did writ­ing hap­pen for you?

A. I have al­ways been pas­sion­ate about writ­ing but it has been an al­ter­na­tive ca­reer op­tion for me. I stud­ied Chandi­garh-based Khush­want Singh has be­come the first In­dian writer to have launched his book at Bri­tain's House of Lords on July 7, 2011. Tur­baned Tor­nado is a bi­og­ra­phy of the old­est marathon run­ner in the world, Fauja Singh. The 100-year-old ran his eighth full marathon, cre­at­ing a Guin­ness World Record on Oc­to­ber 16, 2011. Anandita Gupta finds out more about the author—what makes him tick, his pre­vi­ous books and ‘Fau­ja­nomics’ a term he coined for his lat­est book. Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion at Pan­jab Univer­sity, and then be­gan reporting for a national daily. I come from a farm­ing back­ground and spend most of my time help­ing my fa­ther. That’s how I de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in agri­cul­ture and be­gan reporting on is­sues like farm­ers’ sui­cides in Pun­jab for var­i­ous dailies.

Q. Is there a rea­son why you chose to write on Sikhs?

A. I have taken on the task of pro­fil­ing ac­com­plished Sikh men and women who live abroad. My first book Sikhs Un­lim­ited was a re­sult of the 9/11 at­tacks. I com­piled bi­ogra­phies on Sikh artists, sportsper­sons, en­trepreneurs and film­mak­ers liv­ing in Amer­ica and how they’ve been con­tribut­ing to their econ­omy and cul­ture. This was fol­lowed by my sec­ond book Mend­ing Souls and the lat­est be­ing Tur­baned Tor­nado. Q. Tell us about your lat­est book. A. The book is Fauja Singh’s bi­og­ra­phy, the old­est marathon run­ner in the world. It all started last year when Fauja’s coach Har­man­der Singh called to in­form me that Fauja would turn 100 in 2011. He felt that a book would be the per­fect ode to cel­e­brate Fauja’s achieve­ments. Since I had done a piece on Fauja for my pre­vi­ous book, Sikhs Un­lim­ited and was keen on in­ter­act­ing with him again, I jumped at the op­por­tu­nity.

Q. You’ve coined a term ‘Fau­ja­nomics’ in your book. What is that?

A. Fau­ja­nomics are sim­ple bits of logic by Fauja Singh. Like “zip your mouth as it will keep you out of trou­ble”—you will eat less which is healthy and you will speak less which will keep you out of trou­ble.

Q. Tell us a lit­tle about Fauja Singh.

A. Oh, there are so many lit­tle things peo­ple don’t know. I re­mem­ber the first time I met Fauja Singh. It was at a Gu­rud­wara in Il­ford near Lon­don in 2005 where he said to me, “I can ei­ther walk or sleep but the mo­ment I sit idle, I will die.” So we pro­ceeded to walk-in fact my en­tire in­ter­view took place while walk­ing the streets of Il­ford! Then there is his un­usual habit of scrub­bing his body with baby oil ev­ery morn­ing, his ab­so­lute dis­re­gard for gym­na­si­ums and his in­ex­pli­ca­ble fetish for branded shoes, to name a few. It was a lot of fun, be­sides be­ing in­spi­ra­tional, to write about this great man.

Q. What next? Is there any book in the pipe­line?

A. Yes. At present I am work­ing on a book on Ma­haraja Ran­jit Singh but I don’t want to talk much about it right now.

RAVI S Sahni/­di­a­to­day­im­

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