Diaries Magazine

Jamal Merchant An Ambassador of Undying Human Spirit @jamalMerchant

Posted on the 21 April 2018 by Jaideep Khanduja @PebbleInWaters

Born in Mumbai, India, Jamal Merchant was brought up in Tanzania to where his parents migrated in 1952. From his school days, Jamal enjoyed writing which earned him the highest distinction in the English Language in his Cambridge exams. For this, he gives credit to his late father Hassanali who taught him English from the age of 4. The interesting thing is that his father’s own command of English was very basic. So he would speak in Gujarati when teaching English to Jamal!

Jamal now lives in London, the UK where he is settled since 1972 and from where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant. He is married and has one son.

Over the years he has had a varied career path in England having worked in audit firms, the private sector, and a registered public charity before becoming self-employed as a property finance broker specializing in arranging commercial property finance for his UK clients.

He has traveled widely including to India, Kenya, Tanzania, China, Egypt, USA, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. His interests include reading, current affairs, movies, and cricket.

One Enduring Lesson, a story based in India and a tale of the undying human spirit of survival against all odds is his debut novel.

Jamal Merchant An Ambassador of Undying Human Spirit @jamalMerchant

Your real name and pen name?

My real name is Jamal Merchant. I have no pen name.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

I clearly remember boarding the ship at Bombay Port at the age of 4 to go Africa to where we were migrating from India in 1952.

Jamal Merchant Sharing Childhood Memories

Watching cricket on Sundays in Zanzibar between local teams was a great pleasure which I often recall. When the Parsi Team played, Farouk Bulsara, later known as Freddie Mercury (singer) would sometimes come to watch the match. We were all around 12 at the time.

About your education?

After passing my Cambridge exams from Zanzibar, I studied for a BSc Science degree at Elphinstone College in Bombay and later at National College in Bandra. In 1972 I came to England where I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1976.

What career did you plan while you were studying?

Nothing specific when I did my first degree, but from 1972 I was quite determined to study audit and accountancy and become a Chartered Accountant.

What languages can you speak and write?

English, Gujarati, and Kiswahili. I can speak Hindi thanks to Bollywood films.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

I am a Muslim, but I believe in all religions and I feel hugely inspired by the teachings of all the faiths.

What hurts you most in this world?

Lies and character assassination.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I faced in my life was completing my debut novel and getting it published. I overcame this challenge through sheer persistence.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

John F Kennedy on 22nd November 1963. I wish I had not ridden in an open car on that fateful day.

What is your favorite genre and why?

Fiction. It’s a product of the author’s imagination and can take you to another world.

Jamal Merchant on Purpose of Writing

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

In 2009. It was a sudden inspiration to write. I had an original story in mind and wanted others to know it.

Jamal Merchant An Ambassador of Undying Human Spirit @jamalMerchant
Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

I have written only one novel called “One Enduring Lesson”. It’s my debut novel, published by Rupa Publications of India.


Eager to start a new phase in life, Rahul Saxena, 27, a half-Indian British citizen, lands in Mumbai from London. Little does he know that Mumbai, the city of dreams, will turn his very life inside out. Fate takes him on a roller coaster ride that challenges his very will and determination to survive. Inspired by India’s synergetic religious traditions, Rahul fights back internal and external demons to emerge victorious from his horrific struggles and be triumphant in love.

One Enduring Lesson is a tale of the undying human spirit of survival against all odds.

What are your forthcoming writings?

None. I will write another novel only if I have another brilliant and original story coming to my mind.

What genres you write in and why?

If I write another novel, it will be a love story as I believe love is eternal.

What keeps you motivated towards writing?

Only an original story coming to my mind.

If Writing a Book is taken as a project, What are the key essentials you take care of in Project Management?

I would like to answer this question by sharing with you my journey in writing my debut novel “One Enduring Lesson”.

In 2009 I came up with the idea of writing a novel. It was a sudden inspiration.

Jamal Merchant On Project Management

In my school days in Zanzibar, Tanzania I used to write scores of essays. So writing was a habit for me from my young days.

Writing is one thing, but writing a novel is quite a different thing. I had an original story in mind but had no idea of how to write a novel. I had to self-tuition myself in the art of storytelling, scene construction, dialog development and creative writing. To do this I started reading novels written by famous novelists and also started watching films. In all, I read 75 novels and saw 260 films. I also attended a few short courses in London in creative writing. I made extensive study notes from all these resources which immensely helped in the writing and editing of my debut novel and take it forward.

In fact, I genuinely believed that I had a good story to tell and wanted the world to read it. This motivated me to write my debut novel.

My motivation led me to work very hard on my project and encouraged me to make a substantial investment of my time, efforts, and, resources in taking it forward.

My story is based in India. I did extensive research on many aspects of life in India and issues covered in my novel. In all, I had 235 print-outs on various subjects to read and draw knowledge from.

In January 2011, I made a special trip to India and visited Mumbai and Amritsar and visited all the places in these two cities where the action takes place involving the protagonist Rahul Saxena. It was a fact-find visit which greatly assisted me in describing some of the places and events in my novel.

Jamal Merchant On Motivation

My motivation led me to get up at 4.00 in the morning to write. As a debut novelist, it was a slow and painful process. But I persevered and completed my first draft in September 2011 which I later enriched with dozens of improvements and new ideas, culminating in a draft which was finally accepted by Rupa Publications of India.

Jamal Merchant An Ambassador of Undying Human Spirit @jamalMerchant
How do you plan, schedule and monitor your writing commitments?

As narrated in the previous question.

What are your future plans?

I will never give up working. Work is a pleasure. I will carry on working as a property finance broker. I will write another novel if and when I come up with another original story.

What is generally your preference for reading – a paper book or ebook? And why?

Paper book. Reading an ebook strains my eyes.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

An original story, research, jotting down ideas and phrases for use in the book, continuously improving the draft.

How much real life goes in writing a fiction?

I believe that in every fiction there are real-life experiences of the author or of people known to him.

Is a high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Absolutely. What he writes is all his imagination put in words.

Your dream destination on Earth?

China. It’s a one big Theme Park.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

I was born in Mumbai and brought up in East Africa. I have visited East Africa, Egypt, India, China, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and some parts of Canada and the USA.

Jamal Merchant on Favorite Time of the Day

Favorite time of the day?

8.00 pm when I sit and relax in front of the TV after a hard day’s work.

Your zodiac/ sun sign?


Your favorite color and why?

Light blue. It’s cooling.

What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you’re reading?

The last book I finished reading is The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

Currently, I am not reading any book but am planning to read The Rebel Prince. It’s a biography of Prince Charles of England.

Your favorite book and why?

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Jamal Merchant An Ambassador of Undying Human Spirit @jamalMerchant
Your favorite movie and why?

The Godfather. Because it’s a fantastic film with very sharp editing and excellent dialogues.

Your favorite celebrity and why?

President John F Kennedy. He was a dynamic personality.

Your favorite food?

Mutton Biriyani, cooked by my wife.

Your favorite sports?


What is the force that drives you?

I feel the Lord’s hands are always on my shoulders. This keeps me going.

What comes to your mind when you think of India?

It’s a great and vibrant country with many challenges and opportunities.

Some quickies:

Sun or Moon – Sun

Laughter or Smile – Smile

Morning or Evening – Morning

Coffee or Tea – Tea

Mountain or Sea – Sea

Long Drive or Short Drive – Long drive if I am not driving, otherwise short.

Silence or Conversation – Conversation

Water or Fire – Water

Air or Earth – Air

Mars or Jupiter – Mars

Tulip or Rose – Rose

Red or Blue – Blue

Left or Right – Right

Glance or Stare – Glance

Fame or Money – Money

Boy or Girl – Girl

Day or Night – Day

Tree or Plant – Tree

Love or Passion – Love

Jamal Merchant Answering Rapid fire Questions

What three words come to your mind for each –

Technology – Artificial Intelligence, Future, Unavoidable

Life – Complex, Challenging, Finite

God – Omnipotent, Merciful, Forgiving

Humanity – Justice, Virtues, Dignity

Terrorism – Unjustified, barbaric, callous

Racism – Discriminatory, unfair, wrongful

Childhood Abuse – Despicable, Repulsive, Unpardonable

Love – Necessary, Universal, Devotion

Parenting – Blessing, Challenging, Pleasure

Old age – Foreordained, Natural, Demanding

The first thing you do in the morning after waking up?

Drink half a liter of water.

The last thing to do before sleep?

Say a small prayer

If one fine morning you wake up and find your sex changed to the opposite, what will be your first reaction?

Shock. I would not be able to cope. I am fine as a man.

The best role of a woman is a Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter, or an independent woman away from all these roles? (or any other role that comes to your mind).


State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote

The subject should always disappear in the object.

The last line of your autobiography would be…

He achieved a lot – in spite of his limited resources.

The title of your autobiography would be…

Jamal Merchant – Never Give Up.

Any message for your fans and readers?

If you would like to be an author then: Read, Read, Read and then Write, Write, Write till you get it Right.

Links & other relevant details:

ISBN-10: 812914767X

ISBN-13: 978-8129147677

ASIN: 812914767X

Publisher: Rupa Publications of India

Twitter handle: @jamalmerchant

Facebook page:

Goodreads author page:

Amazon link:


YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edoTQv6thy4

Author Website: http://www.oneenduringlesson.com/

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