I happened to meet Tom Alter last week when he was in town to watch the Cricket match. And agreed to do a reading of his books. The read meet was organized in Asian Women Spa in Koramangala. Which provided a perfect setting for the beautiful evening. There was a small gathering of Bangaloreans. Most of whom were either writers or avid readers. And this kind of added to the beauty of the evening.
Meeting the author Tom Alter
Before I met Tom, I had no opinion on him. Like most Indian filmgoers, I knew him as an actor. Whom I had grown watching in both films and television. I was aware that he does a lot of theatres but never got a chance to see any of his plays. I was aware that he has written a few books. But never knew which ones, and obviously had not read them. When my friend, who was organizing this event asked me to do the welcome note and introduction, I sat on the internet and tried to do some research. And really could not find much information on him. Nothing more than what was said in the invite card of the event.
But I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him before the event. And within those ninety minutes or so, I could gather so much more about the person Tom is. During the event which lasted more than two hours and sometime after that, I got to know a lot about him and his thought process.
Tom Alter the Actor
I came to know a little more about the actor in him. Who has acted in all the mediums of acting: films, theatre and TV, and in multiple languages, including some south Indian ones. This is probably the best-known information about him. But what many people may not know is that he is a big fan of Urdu Shayari. Now I really look forward to hearing him recite Ghalib. Whatever little poetry he recited that day, I am sure it would be a sheer delight to hear him recite Ghalib.
Tom Alter the Author
He, of course, is a writer, who has been a journalist for about 16 years and has written regular columns. He has authored three books, the first one being on Cricket, which unfortunately is out of print now. The other two are the fictions based around his hometown Mussourie, which is now in Uttaranchal. One of the books draws on inspiration from the Indian films. And the other one is inspired by the plight of Indian sports. And the story revolves around a marathon runner from a small town. He is also an ambassador for Jim Corbett National Park. And regularly goes there to do the readings of books by Jim Corbett.
But the most amazing thing I discovered about him was his passion and hence knowledge about sports. When he was reading from his first book, he rattled data about cricket with amazing details. You can say in this cricket crazy country you would find many people who can give you scores from any match and remember all records. But he amazed us all when he rattled the records of ‘track and field’ events from Olympics, Asian games, Commonwealth games and national games. He knew not only the records but also the track records of various players. And had all the analysis of why the performance of the player went in a certain direction. Over the evening he kept revealing that he has played football, basketball and has run a full marathon.
He was quite upset with the movie ‘Chak de India’, as he felt that sports are the only place in India where there is no discrimination on the basis of religion. And this movie is grossly wrong in showing the same.
All in all, I was damn impressed with Tom Alter and look forward to hearing him recite Ghalib as soon as possible.