ANAM ARSALAN is a Doha-based first-time author with a prolific 15-year long career in journalism that took him beyond the shores of India and subsequently made him a sports administrator.
As a sports writer, he has had a stint with a slew of top media houses including India Today, Hindustan Times, The Asian Age, and Delhi Mid-Day among others.
His first international exposure came with the Dutch global sports agency, Infostrada Sports (now Gracenote) in 2010, when he joined their editorial team for the Singapore Youth Olympics, and later got involved with India’s showpiece – the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
A drive to think out of the box and a passion for the Olympic sports eventually landed him at the Qatar Olympic Committee.
AMIT- ‘IN DI SPIRE’ how close you are towards to #LifeDeathBucketList “Ten Things You Must Do before You Die”
Dear Amit, I have no such list, really. But, since I am a practising Muslim, I would InshaAllah do a Hajj. And it should not be too far off considering that I am based in Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s neighbouring country.
Else, there isn’t anything that has been left undone by me.
AMIT- Truly you are a journalist or writer?
Definitely a journalist first! But, writing comes naturally to our clan, I think.
Well, The book dwells on the ups and downs of life viewed from an expat’s eye. It chronicles that ‘in-your-face’ effort at creating a remarkable but, artificial society, with external catalysts such as oil and sport playing their part.
AMIT- What is turning point in your life? What inspired you to pen down?
Call it the ‘writing bug’ or the ‘verbal diarrhoea’. The fact is that often I end
up hogging most conversations. Written or verbal, the blabber mouth that I am, I just love to express myself, be it written or verbal… it just comes naturally to me.
In fact, I can still recall this. Way back in school, I think I must have been in Standard 10th then, my vice principal just asked, “So Anam, what do you want to become in life?”
Don’t know what came over me, I just said, “Journalist”. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure then, if I wanted to be one. Maybe, I was prompted by the idea that my father worked for the All India Radio. But, destiny took its own course and I did become a journalist.
And as far as penning down my memoir – Doha!: Diary of a Delhi-O-Holic, I would say it was high time I did that. After spending more than 15 years in media, one is inclined to write a book. But, like my contemporaries in Sports journalism, I wasn’t keen on doing a biography of a sports star.
Point is – how many people actually do read biographies? Lance Armstrong’s biographies / autobiographies would definitely be up there on the reading list of an avid sports aficionado, but otherwise his books really picked up after all the doping controversies came to light.
In fact, I can say this with certainty that even Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ that was co-authored by renowned sports writer Boria Majumdar, was only bought by the most ardent of fans, the rest just admired its cover and left.
Even though I interacted with some of the best sports stars and athletes from across the world and still do, I wasn’t keen on doing their biographies. The thing is most are boring!
So it had to be a book for the masses, something that a common man could identify with and Doha!: Diary of a Delhi-O-Holic is exactly that. It’s something that most Indians or for that matter anyone aspiring to make good money in short time (read an Expat or an NRI) would be able to identify with.
AMIT- Can you please describe your life with a movie title or book?
Good question, but I can’t really put a title to my life of hand of hand. So let me describe it with an adage. Well actually two:
‘Jab kismat me likhe hon L*DE toh kahan se milenge Aaloo Ke Pakode’
AMIT- Would you like to share anything that has been left by me?
What most people do not know is that I had started writing a book way in 2000 when I was working for Hindustan Times (Mumbai). I had worked there for an year and I wanted to pen down my stay. The memoir would have been colourful than the current one, but the hard disk of the computer I was working on crashed destroying 3 to 4 chapters. That was the end of it…
AMIT- And the last one, you seems to be so mature, talented and passionate for your work. From where you get so much passion, energy, eager to work and work. Share with us.
One word Amit: Loneliness
That’s what has driven me to write this book. Had I not been lonely, I wouldn’t have been able to pen this book. Remember, the best of the works have been written in isolation, if I must add – JAILS. Think!
Like I said, I needed an escape route for expressing myself. A person infected by ‘verbal diarrhoea’ needs a platform to say something, but sadly he was caught between ‘Mafi Mushkila’ and ‘Kullu Tamam’ (colloquial Arabic used by Egyptians, something that was alien to me). So the book was the most obvious means of telling people my story. But, franklyDoha!: Diary of a Delhi-O-Holicis a story or better put stories that every expat today lives by.