A Tourism Queensland initiative, the 'Best Job in the World' contest was launched in January 2009. Open to people from across the globe, it resulted in millions of applications for a shot at the grand prize. Prospective contestants had to shoot a 60-second video outlining why they were deserving of this honour, of which 35,000 were selected.
The shortlist was then narrowed down to 50 on the basis of aptitude and psychometric tests that the contestants took online. From there, 500-word essays determined who would make it to the top 15. And Anjaan is one of the lucky few and incidentally, also the only Indian to have made the cut.
So which is the best job in the world? If Anjaan, 28, wins, he will spend six months as caretaker of tropical Australian island Hamilton, one of the 74 Whitsunday Islands situated in the Great Barrier Reef. His contract will pay him the sum of AU$150,000 and job responsibilities will entail feeding the fish, collecting the mail and other such endeavours.
The winner of the contest will also be required to swim and explore the Whitsunday Islands, while sharing his experiences on a blog and through the media. Between May 3 and May 7, all the finalists will visit Australia for a final interview before the winner is declared. "If I win, I'm going to take my wife with me and we're going to spend six months swimming, snorkelling and exploring," declares Anjaan.
It will certainly be the experience of a lifetime for this bright young man from Bangalore. Not one to tread the beaten path, Anjaan fills us in on his background: "I was a topper till Class X. But then I got really disillusioned with the educational system, so I decided to work instead. I switched several jobs, working with an event management company, then with an advertising agency and so on, till finally I got into media management with (FM radio station) Radio One. I'm currently a senior programme manager and also host my own show."
"Radio happened to me just the way everything in life has happened to me -- on its own, without a plan. In 1997, I called a radio show as a listener. After a while, the director of the show called me back, and said, "You sound interesting -- why don't you stop by?" So I did and soon started producing a show. A year later I hosted a show by fluke, because the real RJ didn't turn up!" Anjaan is also a freelance compere and has hosted over 1,000 events.
"I love connecting with people. What all my job choices up until now have had in common is that they allow me to connect with people. I'm lucky that I love what I do -- it doesn't seem like work to me. All I do is write some ideas for clients, talk on the radio and organise parties. None of this is work -- it's fun! I love adventure and sports in general. I bicycle to work everyday and go to Goa about eight times a year to recharge. I spend that time in a meditative state, without any phones or people around. Australia will be an extension of that."
Talking about his application for the 'Best Job in the World', Anjaan says, "I had to shoot a 60 second video of why I was the best person to take care of the island. So I thought, what are the skills they will be looking for? Swimming will definitely be one of them -- so I shot a funny video of myself swimming everywhere -- on trees, pavements, roads -- I think they liked the quirky aspect of it. Then there was the essay, consisting of four questions, which I tried to answer as interestingly as possible."
Since Anjaan is the only Indian who has made it to the top 15, expectations are riding high. "Indians in general are emotional people, so because I'm the only one, they all want me to win. Though the media has sniffed it out, the story is not getting half as much coverage as it's been getting in other countries. Here, the elections are claiming priority over everything else. Also, travel stories are not big in our country. But I don't mind, because when I win, I can be suddenly famous -- like Slumdog Millionnaire!" (chuckles)
"All my close friends know, of course and I got some press coverage when I was campaigning for votes as well. I also put it up on all my networking accounts -- Facebook, Twitter, Orkut -- you name it. I think I definitely have a chance at the grand prize. I've been travelling and communicating all my life -- which is what this job requires me to do. I love sharing my experiences and story-telling. Also, Indians have an advantage over others because our accents are easy to understand, and our English is a good mix of all kinds. I also believe in confidence and destiny, which is what I think will get me the job," he says.
So what are Anjaan's plans for the future? "First I'm going to win the contest and stay on the island for six months. Then, who knows? I never plan, but Radio One will be more than willing to take me back. As for the money, I'm going to use some of it to fund a project to conserve the Great Barrier Reef, and I'll use the rest to travel some more!"
Photograph courtesy: Radio One FM