Thursday, September 18, 2014

Open letter to TOI: OMG, Deepika Padukone's cleavage

Dear TOI,

I am wondering why men and women are so furious with your story stating: ‘Omg, Deepika Padukone’s cleavage.” I am sure you are regretting that you didn’t talk about her legs instead: ‘Omg, Deepika Padukone's long legs.’ Everyone would have loved that. Some portals would have even got a cue and uploaded stories like: Ten things only women with long legs can understand. Or: How to date a woman with long legs.

You see, the problem was not with your remark: it was with the body part you chose.

For us, breasts are a personal topic, a secret best not spoken about. When our daughters start to ‘grow’ we teach them how to sit properly, talk politely, laugh softly, dance appropriately, walk gracefully, eat & cook healthy, work passionately, love endlessly and care boundlessly. We introduce them to their five senses, legs & hands and back & stomach. And knowingly and unknowingly we ‘fail’ to acknowledge their breasts. It is personal.

When we feel our teenager needs a bra, we just hand over one to her. Her world crashes down. No more bouncy. If her boobs are allowed to play freely, she can damage the world. Does she know that? Of course she doesn’t. Do we tell her, ofcourse not. It is personal.

Our little girl doesn’t even know that the word ‘boobs’ denotes flirtatiousness, that ‘breasts’ are restricted to brochures about ‘cancer’ that most people type ‘bust’ instead of ‘busy’ when in a hurry (T and Y are provocatively placed next to each other on the keypad) and that grown-ups giggle inwardly when she says ‘titbits’.

When she grows up and one day walks up to us and tells that a man tried to feel her breasts at a railway station, we ask her to ignore it. When an aunt urges her to bend down with caution, we ask her to follow the advice. When a salesman at a bra shop stares at her, we ask her to remember that he is just doing his job.   

I think it is ridiculous that you didn’t know this. Breasts are personal: we don’t flash details about them or the periphery in national dailies.

When she becomes a young adult, we watch her giggle looking at delicate lacelike lingerie. When she gets married (or dates, if we decide to acknowledge: when we learn about it) we watch her buy some stuff. When she becomes a mother, we watch her with pride as she feeds her child. When she dies of breast cancer, we watch her fight it.

I think it is ridiculous that you didn’t know this. Breasts are personal, we laugh at crude breast jokes in films (juicy apples, oranges). We don’t raise an alarm when we spot a rash on the left or the right one (we only wear pink ribbons). At times we even forget that men die because of breast cancer too: we think it is a ‘woman’ thing.   

How else do I explain this to you? You see, not only are our breasts personal but even our bras are. We don’t leave bras unattended in the washroom or on the bed, couch or cupboard: this is to avoid embarrassment or appear ‘suggestive’.

Weren’t you the paper that flashed stories on the Pink Chaddi Campaign? Come on, didn’t you think that why was there not an equally bigger Pink Bra Campaign?

It’s really personal.

It’s a body part that exists and we all know it does.

Look at Facebook and Twitter, people are proving just that:
Deepika Padukone: “I have a nose and nostrils.”
Others: Deepika, you have a spine too.

It’s just that we really can’t talk about it. Unless ofcourse it is the month of October. Wait, did you confuse September with October?

Okay, this is really exhausting and unnecessary. I am not sure if you are really getting the point: So let us for the sake of mankind and womankind pretend that while the men have chests (and breasts) and wear vests I’m roaming the streets sans boobs and ‘vest-less’. I have nothing to ‘hide’.

But just one more thing before I go and put my bra to dry on the clothes line (And yes, the women in my family told me to cover it with a towel: my balcony faces the neighbours): Was there no woman colleague on the desk that day? May be, she would have stopped you, warned you.

I am really feeling sorry for you. So here’s a little tip for your future pieces: Don’t talk about bras. And not even periods. But feel free to talk of bra straps and underpants (panties) I think we’ve been okay with that in the past.

Purva Grover

Image: here

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Add ‘preparing’ for death to your to-do-list?

Life comes with a deadline and when the time is over death just lifts you with its claws. Life teaches you a lot but it can never teach you the lessons that death can. Many of you may not have the patience to read this long gloomy post, piece of writing, but it is my request that you read. I am going to be comparing death with things like a donut and you may find it lame, hurtful and hate it too. But I am going to do so because I want each one of us, 25 or 65, to prepare for death, not as much as for our sakes but for the sakes of the lives we leave behind. We prepare so much to sit for an entrance exam, to get ready for a party, to speak to our boss for a raise, to propose to our teenage crush…can I request you to take a few minutes out and prepare for death? I don’t want anyone to start living in a state of fear (as I admit, I do) after reading this piece but I do want you to feel a lump in your throat by the end, the lump that will make you brave enough to approach the topic, death, with your family and friends. And if you don’t have the patience to read it all, just read the last bit. I don’t believe in talking of my personal pain on public platforms, I refrain from it all the time but this time around I want to, for two reasons, one, I need to write this to help me feel better and two, I want everyone to ‘prepare’.

It was two years and two months back that one of my best friends lost her dad. Ever since I have changed as a friend, daughter, sister, aunt, lately a wife; I am a different person. A person who lives in a constant state of fear, a person who asks herself the same question each morning, ‘Are we growing that fast that our parents are going away?’ Yes, we’re growing old, and our parents older. But, ‘It is time for them to go away?’ Is there ever a ‘destined’ or ‘right’ time for parents to just go away? Is there a ‘time’ for anyone to go away? I shiver when my phone rings at a time it should not. I cross my fingers when I get a SMS at an odd hour that reads, Call Me. On that day when we visited our friend, another friend had said, ‘There was a time we stood with each other when we stepped on the stage for a school annual day performance now we’re here, we’ve really grown up.’ It was true, is true, we’re growing up. But growing up was not making things easier. It was just bringing us closer to the loss.  After I lost my grandparents a couple of years ago (both within less than a gap of a year, such was their love that my nana decided to join my nani, when she left) I spent years crying in the dark when everyone was sleeping. I had to be brave, I was in my 20s. I had tried to comfort myself in many ways. I told myself that at least nani came back home after staying in the coma for a while and lived and left us from home, not in a hospital. When nana gave up on ‘living’ and we could see him slowly drifting away from us we prayed and tried to comfort him with ‘our’ presence but we couldn’t, how do you comfort a person to live without ‘someone’ he had lived with for more than 60 years? We panic at the sight of having to give away even a phone that we have used for years.  When he left us, I tried to comfort myself saying, ‘At least they are together now.’ Even till date I get moist-eyed every single day but I don’t hide my pain anymore, I just look up and imagine both of them looking at all of us, smiling. I tell them, I love them and I rub off my tears and get on with life. But that’s not one of the hardest lessons ‘death’ has taught me. To ‘go on with life’ is hard but not the hardest. I remember an aunt of a friend who had lost her husband when her kids when 10 and 8 saying these words, ‘You know why God build us the way he did? So that when we lose someone we force ourselves to get busy with lives. If there were no food to cook, no job to earn money from, no kids to live for, no electricity bill to remember to pay, etc. what would we do fill up the hours, what would get us back to life?’ And till date her words ring in my ears, the starkness of the words. The simple truth about death.

As I write this I have lost a dear uncle to a sudden heart attack. One evening he was smiling, same night he was no more. Someone has lost a son, someone a brother, someone a  husband, someone a father. They will bounce back, live, get on with life. We will make sure they do, we will be around, we will be…but he will not. Life will never be the same for all of us. How will they live from this day on, I don’t know. My hands shiver as I write this. We can’t fight death. When I spoke to my aunt  (his wife) she said, ‘We can’t bring him back. We all have lovely memories of him.’ She was giving me courage, holding herself for her children. Her loss is unimaginable and she is already ‘living on’ for the lives around her. Do we have the courage to do that? Or does death give us the courage? I don’t have the answers. So, I am asking myself these questions again and taking certain decisions, will you too please? Let’s prepare ourselves.

·         Stay fit. Just like you take out time for a drink with friends, a movie date with your partner, an extra hour for a presentation… take out time to exercise, to visit a doctor regularly. Get the required check-ups. If you can spend money on a pair of shoes you can spend it on a semi-annual or annual medical check-up? FIT PEOPLE DIE, YOUNG PEOPLE DIE. Don’t think you are a fit because you take the stairs and sleep well, get a check-up. Go to a doctor.
·         Encourage (if required force) your parents to stay fit. They will ignore you at times. Gain weight, refuse to go to a doctor for a cough, headache, chest pain etc. Even if they say they’re feeling better, go visit them. Take them to a doc. Keep a tab on their pills, checking every now and then if they’re taking the required dose.
·         Respect your parents. Once upon a time they were patient with you when you threw tantrums to go to a doctor or drink the sweet syrup. They missed movies, changed jobs, shifted homes, and sacrificed passions for your sake. When it is your turn to do that, DO THAT. They are your KIDS now, who need the love, care, warmth. Just like you were lost on the first day at school or college and they held your hand, today they are lost, when you left the home and went to hostel or started your own family or took a job somewhere else, they felt as lost. HOLD THEIR HANDS.
·         Today it was he/he/them/his/her….tomorrow it will be you/me/us. People go away. Remember there will be a day we will go away. It is not always that ‘others’ lose their dear ones. WE WILL LOSE OUR LOVED ONES TOO. Make arrangements. If you are married, sit down with your partner tell him/her about the insurance covers, bank nominee papers, medical covers…prepare a file with all the details, contact numbers, etc. You don’t want her/him to be dealing with the paperwork in those times. Tell your children the same thing too. Prepare them.
·         Sit down with your parents and ask them to make a WILL. You do that too. Pain, money, greed…such emotions make people act weird, you don’t want to ever fight with your siblings or parent over money. God forbid, you become your greedy or your sibling does, you don’t want to fight. Not all children fight, but some do. Do your parents a favour, do yourself a favour, and make a will. No you are not too fit or young, make a will.
·         Develop a hobby. You don’t want to be dependent on anyone to fill in those empty hours when you have lost your partner and have no one left to share a cup of chai with. We will all die someday, sooner or later, we all feel lonely. We all look up to our busy friends, children…whose lives will not halt as badly as ours would when we lose our partner or parent or friend. So find for yourself a comforting interest that will if nothing distracts your mind when you will really need it.
·         Never sleep over a fight, never leave home angry, never hang up pissed… in short, complete every angry moment with a resolve, smile, solution, hug. You will not be able to live with the regret of being angry with the person you saw, spoke to for the last time.
·         Let the person grieve. Each one of us has our own way of grieving with loss. If a person wants to be left alone for a while, let him/her be, making sure they are fine. If they are angry, let them scream at you.
·         And last, just tell your loved ones you LOVE THEM, each day, each moment, hug them tight and tell them they mean the world to you.

 Image: here

Saturday, November 16, 2013


As I type this piece, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has retired. Also, as I type this piece, thousands others have retired & retiring from their workplace.

Thousands just like SRT who are as good as him at their ‘jobs’ retire everyday from their work. They do well, inspire others. They say goodbyes to their colleagues, collect their belongings in a cardboard box, cut a ‘we will miss you’ cake… and as they walk back home they wonder to themselves, “What will I do tomorrow morning?” They wonder where will they use their work clothes, what time will they have their morning tea, what will be happen to the mail that will be dropped off their work address…

We will all retire, one day. We all work hard. We all make ‘beautiful’ innings be it on the field, cubicle, garage, kitchen, school…

My Nana ji retired as a college principal, a long long time ago. He used to cycle to college. Today, I am wondering what the thoughts in his head were when he rode the cycle from college to home, the last time. I remember the ‘moistness’ in his eyes. After he retired, he worked to restore documents of historical literary work. He inspired us till he left us.

Just a few weeks back, my dad retired after a very beautiful, challenging & inspirational innings. I had dropped him this mail on the last day of his work, “Hello papa! You must be feeling both sad & happy! But I am sure you will enjoy and relax & then you can come and stay with us! Yippiees!!Love you.” And he replied, “Dear Purva, I am not felling sad at all. Of course there will be a change in my life. I feel it would be ‘better’ than ‘present’. I will enjoy life in another way. May do something new.  My new e-mail address from 1st August is….. Love, Papa.” Today, I am looking back and smiling, my dad had planned his ‘farwell’ so well! He had even created a new e-mail id since he would not have access to the official id! He is 63, he is an inspiration!! And he has taken up a new course and is prepping for his exams! He had an exam last Saturday! J J I am moist eyed as I am thinking how he found the courage to tell us that he would not miss dressing up for work each day, attending meetings, buying a goodie for us on his way back… Dad, you inspire me, each moment!

Today, I wish each one of our jobs & careers were such that we got a chance to connect to millions, beyond our cubicles, and each one of us got the same ‘retirement’ as Sachin got today.

Everyone who retires is sad & deserves a hug.

Respect to SRT & all others who have said goodbye to their work.  

Image: here

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Do diye zyada jalao...

Do diye zyada jalao... 

I am sure all of us have way too many places, people, moments, memories that deserve the extra two diyas... 

I have a lot to feel grateful this Diwali and I hope it is the same for  you! "The lovely cupcake, my niece, please don’t grow up. The ‘can’t-live-without’ sister, I will always call you at all odd hours. The ‘make-me-proud’ daddy, you are my inspiration. The smile, keep visiting me and all those I love. The books, I loved all the nights I spent with you.  The new-found joke partner, bro-in-law, we rock.The Wi-Fi, you are the reason I wake up each morning. The ‘know-it-all’ mommy, how come you have a solution for everything? The grey cells, please don’t give up on me. The husband, thanks for being a lovely room mate! The Indian Trumpet magazine, thanks for making my life so colourful & stunning! The cosy work desk, can’t imagine life without you. The blessings, keep coming. The deadlines, you make time dearer.The lessons, I am learning. And all the wonderful people I have met & will meet in this new land, Dubai! 

May each one of yours world sparkles a lot more this Diwali!

Image: Personal album

Monday, October 21, 2013

The bitter truth about Karwa Chauth!

The DDLJ Karwa Chauth scene!

I have just finished reading a piece on Karwa Chauth by Shobhaa De titled ‘The bitter truth about Karwa Chauth…’, which appeared in Mumbai Mirror on October 19th (Link here, and I couldn’t stop myself from penning my views on her piece!

I respect the women who fast, and do it with full belief and faith. I will be fasting too and my hands are not devoid of heena! In fact, just two hours back I got heena on my hands and I think it looks lovely.  And while I was getting it done someone commented, “Hey, you don’t really look like the type who would fast!” Now, I honestly don’t know how people who fast are supposed to look! In fact, a few days back someone had even commented, “Hey, you don’t really look like someone who would be a vegetarian!” Again, I don’t know how vegetarians are supposed to look! Am I to walk around with a cauliflower on my head! J  Well, that’s another story.

So back to the piece by Miss.De. Is simple for me, just like I don’t keep the doors of my home open on Diwali in the hope of Lakshmi walking in, I don’t think a fast could lead to the prosperity or long life of my partner. I feel it is a custom and as & when my heart and body allows me to follow it, I will follow it. At the same time, I don’t think not fasting makes Miss. De a terrible wife. I think this is a festival just like many other Indian festivals and each one of us has the right to indulge and enjoy it in our own way! We don’t need to really adopt a ‘feminist’ attitude towards everything. Right? My husband won’t be fasting for me simply because it is a custom followed (as per their individual choices) by women. We don’t wish our fathers, a Happy Mother’s Day, right? If he wishes to fast along with me that is completely his choice, not a judgement on our affections for each other. And yes, some women like to dress up in ‘bridal finery’ on Karwa Chauth, which I think is their way of celebrating the festival! Don’t we dress up on Diwali? Or wear pink ribbons in aid of breast cancer? Or walk into mall adorned with red hearts on Valentines? I see nothing wrong in woman over-dressing on Karwa Chauth just like I see nothing wrong in woman under-dressing while attending ‘high-profile’ social gatherings, fashion dos, et al (which, the internet tells me Miss. De attends just like she attended this one Karwa Chauth lunch). I see nothing wrong in women fasting for a man, a custom, a tradition…just like I see nothing wrong in women dieting to be a size smaller or smoking or drinking to fit in a circle or generally because they enjoy it…  Each one to oneself, right? And yes, I do drink, diet, under-dress and over-dress!!

So Miss De you are a good wife and I am sure your husband would love you irrespective of you nibbling on a macaroon or two or a 1 kg chocolate cake! (Not that I am ‘someone’ who needs to say this to you) Whether you fast or don’t is your choice. And whether the rest of women do or don’t is theirs. But let’s not get so ‘cracked up’ about it! You may not believe in something we believe in, and vice versa. And just one question, did you always spell your name as Shobhaa with a double ‘aa’ or is it a result of something that some astrologer said to you and you believed it would work? Just curious, for the internet says you were once upon a time called Shobha! Beliefs and opinions are funny things, I tell you! But I am glad all of us have our own platforms, papers, FB accounts, pen down our views!

Image: here

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gulf News, not again!

I have been debating with myself over the last few weeks/days on whether I should write this post or not. And there are many reasons for which it should not be written, especially by a journalist for it’s only a journalist who understands that a newspaper is made/created/written by a human being hence errors are bound to happen. I too, have made some at my job and am sure will make some in future too. But today what got me pen this was yet another ‘slip’ in the Gulf News!!

In The Views section of Gulf News August 27th on Page A 27 ( is a piece titled, ‘He grew up in jail to win his mother’s freedom’. The moment I saw the headline I knew I had it read somewhere recently! The same piece penned with full details (Name, Age) had appeared a few weeks back in Gulf News’ Friday magazine ( While, I was surprised to see the same piece (written by different writers) appear yet again in the pages published by Gulf News, what also shocked me was the fact that this particular one didn’t carry any name (Assuming the names were not to be kept anonymous for the sake of the people involved, wondering why they were not there) and read like a piece of fiction. Two, the tone of the piece in terms of how the husband’s relationship was with the wife, who was in the prison, felt like we were talking of two different people! Three, the amount that the son paid to free the mother, two varied in the two pieces. I am not 100 per cent sure if they were talking of the same mother-son but one read and you would know it is.  Shocking that there is no check to ensure pieces are not repeated or factual errors are not made or stories are printed with complete information. Talking about a few days back I was flipping through the Tabloid! Section of Gulf News wherein I found two events being listed twice! I understand we all live in the world of Copy & Paste but a little thorough won’t harm anyone. At another time, when I called to attend an event I was told it was not scheduled for the day at all! Another slip that comes to my mind, which spoilt my morning cup of coffee, was the misspelling of Red Fort. Another one where the name of actress Vidya Balan was spelt incorrectly in the headline…

The list is long. The work of running a paper is tedious. But then, tomorrow is a new day!

Image: here

Monday, August 26, 2013

I can survive this day

can survive this day. Days like these that leave me feeling empty and cramped at the same time. Days when ‘RAPE’ dominate the newspapers, TV channels and FB status updates. Days when roads witness candle marches and protests. Days when leaders tell me not to interact freely with men. Days when cops tell me I dress inappropriately. Days when men transform into animals. Days when I secretly thank god it was not one of my loved ones. Days when I say a prayer for the girl fighting it out in the hospital. Days when I shiver in fear. I can survive this day. I have to survive this day. I don’t feel sorry for myself. Today, I feel sorry for my parents. Sorry that I was born as a girl. Sorry that while I gorged on popcorns in a theatre they stayed hungry in anxiety. Sorry that while I worked long hours to climb up the career ladder they stared at the watch and prayed. Sorry that while I became an independent woman they worried that I was growing up too fast. Mom-dad, did I ever let you sleep? My prayers go out to parents with daughters. I wish they can survive this day.

Image: here