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.