Ananya Dhawan: How connected do you feel to your homeland through The Indian Trumpet?
Purva Grover: This is a question that I am asked often and find the most difficult to answer. Can you describe in words the pleasure of eating the creamy-rich butter chicken gravy? Can the emotion of hearing and singing the National Anthem be described in phrases? Or for that matter, can you measure the decibels of excitement when you watch Sholay for the thousandth time? No.
It’s emotions like these that make it tough to describe the ‘connect’ I feel with India through The Indian Trumpet. Starting and running the magazine has given me a chance to meet lovely and new people every single day, who share their stories of leaving homes and starting life afresh in Dubai (and even those who were born and brought up here), and connect with people back home too.
It has given me a chance to re-learn the history and geography of the country through such interactions. It has given me a chance to talk about all those elements that make India and Indians so wonderful and unique. It has given me a chance to talk of the past, present and future of our country. It has given me a chance to be in touch with India, every waking moment! It has filled my hours with nostalgic, encouraging and exciting Indian stories. It has given me a chance to celebrate the colour, culture and chaos of India in words and visuals, and above all share ‘it’ all with all of you!
AD: Why an ezine and not regular paperback editions?
PG: The ideal answer to this question would be the fact that we’re living in the digital world; however, in this case the very nature of the magazine demanded so. We are a magazine that aspires to connect Indians across the world with one another and give them a chance to read about and indulge in all things Indian. Though we’re a magazine for the NRIs in Dubai, we’re loved by not just the NRIs in Dubai but NRIs across the globe. Needless to say the Indians back home clearly love what we are serving in our pages. Were we not an ezine we would have been unable to connect with such a huge bunch of people in such a short time! Today, we are just two issues old and have over 16,500 followers, and this has been possible not only because we’re an ezine but also because we’re available free of cost to our readers. Having said that, the old-fashioned editor in me would love to have a print edition of the magazine someday – an edition that is as widely circulated and loved as our ezine.
AD: How and what kind of research do you do? Who are the readers in focus?
PG: There is no research team that did the homework for me to start this magazine. When I landed in Dubai I started blogging about my experiences in Dubai (http://theindiantrumpet.blogspot.ae/) and about the things I craved and missed about India. Soon, that became a talking point among the huge Indian diaspora in DXB and people demanded that I do something more and the magazine was born. Here’s a little note for you on the same, which talks about the work that happened behind-the-scenes for the magazine to take shape.
To all the people I knew, got to know and will know through this magazine.
Big fat Indian wedding. Friends, food, family. Tears and happy tears. Heena and happiness. NRI husband. Packing bags. Saying good bye to home.
Big fat Indian magazine. Supporters, critics and stress. Enthusiasm and challenges. Dreams and deadlines. NRI readers. Proofreading. Uploading the magazine.
The last few weeks have been exciting, tiring, fascinating and challenging. I lived through moments that made me smile and scream at the same time. There were times when the laptop misbehaved, fonts got mixed up and writers and photographers missed deadlines, but then these were complemented with times when my inbox got flooded with encouraging words, download speeds improved and colours and words just fell into place. And while the ‘new’ bride in me had made me believe that planning an Indian wedding was perhaps the toughest thing to do in the world, I realised that it was easier than living the dream of starting a magazine on your own. (Honestly, my mom-dad and sister were the real wedding planners and I was just the showstopper, but even watching them do it all was exhausting. And yes, they were patient with me both when I chattered about the wedding or mag! ) I also learnt that a husband could be a perfect roommate and be as supportive as a 4-am friend in the hostel room. (I was happy to watch the NRI husband switch roles between being a business development manager and a web-designer and proofreader.) I even accepted that while I couldn’t do it all in one issue, each day would bring me one step closer than I was the day before to achieving my dream of starting my own magazine. I began to smile at the thought that as an NRI, I was getting a chance to love, miss and appreciate the ‘home’ as well as greet, explore and admire the ‘new home’. And honestly, even if someone had told me that this is how the journey would be from Delhi, India to Dubai, UAE, I would have still done exactly the same thing and with the same enthusiasm.
Yes, when this Indian girl landed in Dubai she felt she couldn’t leave behind her passion for journalism and love for home. At the same time, she couldn’t help but play with fonts, colours and words to create something for the fellow NRIs here. Little did she know that hearts and minds from all communities would greet her dream with the same passion and love.
We started off with the intention of reaching out to the NRIs in Dubai but the overwhelming response from the NRIs across the world as well as the Indians back home has increased its reach beyond the shores of Dubai. We continue focusing on the Indians in Dubai and are planning to reach out to the Indians in the other Middle Eastern nations.
AD: What is your modus operandi (in terms of the magazine)?
PG: The method of work at most magazines is essentially the same drill of ideation, morning meetings (we do ours via Skype at times, since our writers are spread across the world!), drafting edit lists, assigning articles and photo jobs, editing pieces, correcting pictures, designing pages, chasing deadlines… and both smiling and stressing at the end of the day! What’s different in our ‘method in madness’ is that we encourage even non-writers and photographers to contribute, including our readers, for this is their space. Also, we treat each of our members as a celeb. No matter how small or large his/her role is in the magazine, we consider all as members of this expanding Trumpet family.
AD: What is the ideal pitch packet that a (magazine) editor should have? What do you think is too much and what is not enough to be served to the readers?
PG: The only way an editor can draft and work on an ideal pitch is by following the commands of its readers! There are temptations to fill up the pages with things that the editor likes the most, talk of trends that its writers follow or simply copy-paste press releases to make the job easier. If one can resist these temptations, then one would be on the right track to creating a perfect magazine for the readers. I would say our strength is interaction with our readers. We’re constantly in touch with them through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, events, contests, meet-ups and a lot more. We exchange e-mails with them, share our plans with them and more. They help us decide what is too much or what is too less.
AD: What, according to you, is the most fetching aspect of Dubai?
PG: Dubai is a city where big dreams get wings, ambitions challenge the high-rise buildings, sun shines as bright as the jewels and the sea casts its spell. And behind all the glitter, glamour and gold are actually the dreams of people. Those wanting to make a better life, those wanting to earn a little more, those wanting to dress up in a designer wear, those wanting to drive a better car… and more! Dubai puts its faith in the dream of each person who stays here, and that’s the most fetching aspect of the place. Also, the fact that it welcomes people from each and every community is another charmer! When Dubai builds the world’s largest and tallest this and that it lets you grow bigger, taller and larger with it too!
AD: What is the best meal you have eaten in Dubai?
PG: A tough one! Dubai spoils with you lip-smacking choices like Delhi (I belong to Delhi) does! A few of my favourite joints here are Trader Vic’s, Karma Kafe, Carluccio’s, Belgian Beer Café, The Noodle House… and the list goes on!
AD: What do you like least about living in Dubai?
PG: There is absolutely nothing I dislike about living in Dubai. As is often said, “Dubai is the best place to stay in India!” Yes, I would have loved it if Dubai had winter and rains! Delhi winters are what I miss the most.
AD: What have you felt were your ‘greatest moments’ in your work?
PG: This magazine is less of work and more of a passion and desire to give the NRIs (as well as Indians back home) a chance to connect with each other through the common thread, their love for ‘home’. We don’t aim to be patriots but just aspire to be a platform where we can share anecdotes, get nostalgic, take pride, and express emotions… all things Indian. When I decided to start this magazine on my own in an alien land, I didn’t look at it as a task/work to be accomplished but simply a dream to fulfill. Every moment on this journey has been worthwhile. It’s been tiring and exciting at the same time. And most beautiful were the moments when my inbox got flooded with words of encouragement, appreciation and love from readers/fans from not just in Dubai and India but even from NRIs in Turkey, the US, Canada and more! Be it the sleepless nights, the proofreading, the colour correction, the edit list drafts, or the insane deadlines… I love every moment.
AD: A few words for aspiring editors… and for eFiction India.
PG: Before I decided to start my own magazine I was working as an editor of luxury and lifestyle magazines in India. Things have surely changed from that role to this role of being the founder and editor of a magazine. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the thoughts that push me to work harder, each day. As an editor, it is always scary to put your work out there for the world to see and judge. It’s like what filmmakers say about how they dread Fridays! Even after being a journalist for more than seven years now, I still dread the first of the month! I still sleep with a notepad on my bedside table, just in case an idea pops in the middle of the night and I want to scribble it down. I still draft and re-draft headlines in my head even when the issue is released. I still stress over proofreading a copy, even after I have done so a million times. I still personally sit down and ensure each picture is properly colour-corrected and each writer/artist/photographer is given credit for his/her work. I still answer every letter that comes to me from a reader, personally. And I still find inspiration in each of these tasks. To all the editors out there, consider each issue as your first one and you would never fall short of inspirations or fail to aspire!
I got to know about eFiction India through Nikhil Sharda via LinkedIn. I have to say that you guys are doing a great job when it comes to keeping alive a form of writing that is often ignored. It is brilliant to come across a bunch of people dedicated passionately to a literary cause like this one. It is a wonderful platform to bring together all those who still romance fiction and poetry, and give them a chance to help each other survive, grow and flourish.