Poetry

An alarm in the distance rings,

She wonders what the new day brings
Give up now! Her entire body groans, 

Undaunted, she shakes up her bones

Something is wrong, she feels it
Months and months now , she can’t push it off

Her body but an empty shell,
Continues working as if under a spell.

A darkness creeps in her heart,
Making her fall apart.

Trying to run is futile,

For as soon as she thinks she is happy, it catches up and makes her secluded.

One minute she’s laughing,

Next she is masking.

Searching for a place to hide,
The monster  again may catch up she’s petrified.

Buried six feet under the ground,

With each scream only ripping the darkness around.

Joy oh joy! Where are you,

Come back I need you.

It paved her a path, light shining the way,

Persistence alone helps her keep the darkness at bay.

For now, the shadow disappears,

So long, till we meet again she  says wiping her tears.

Continues living her routine among her peers.

She wishes the day comes soon when she is unfettered,
When she can finally laugh and live,

No need to look over her shoulder,

For that familiar friend who grows only bolder.

Fighting everyday is oh so tiring,
Give up! Her mind says, it’s much more easier,  less jarring.

Not today, not today she repeats as her feet fall on the street.

Vowing to fight as long as her heart beats.
Strong, undaunted and brave she stands up.

Till we meet again my foe, I will not let-up.

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The Bechdel test

The Bechdel test designed by Alison Bechdel is a test used to indicate presence of women on screen and whether it is significant or not.

Also known as the Bechdel–Wallace test. The test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, in whose comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For it first appeared in 1985. Bechdel credited the idea to a friend, Liz Wallace, and to the writings of Virginia Woolf.

It has three requirements:

  1. There must be two named female characters on screen
  2. They must talk to each other atleast once during the course of the film
  3. They must talk about something other than boys/men

Sounds simple right?

But you would be surprised at how many films fail this test.

Here are some famous films that fail this test:

note: I have copied this part from 10 Famous Films That Surprisingly Fail The Bechdel Test

  • The social network

Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies spend two hours screwing over each other and everyone else around them in pursuit of Facebook billions, apparently in an attempt to prove that nerds can’t have friends.

Why it fails the test:

None of the women in the movie ever talk to each other. In fact, they’re kinda just flat characters who the male characters ignore or bang in bathrooms when it’s dramatically appropriate. Aaron Sorkin, the film’s writer, actually commented on the lack of three-dimensional female characters in an interview with Stephen Colbert, saying that the women are “prizes”. Aw, Sorkin, you charmer, you.

  • Harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2

Harry and his friends (several of whom are female) begin making their final moves to take down Lord Voldemort. They confront him, defeat him, age weirdly, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Why it fails the test:

None of the female characters in the film actually have a conversation. They trade quips a few times, like when Prof. McGonagall makes a comment about “always wanting to use that spell” to Mrs. Weasley when she brings the stone statues to life, or when Mrs. Weasley calls Bellatrix a bitch…but no one actually responds and, y’know, talks. They might as well be talking to themselves (or, more likely, the audience

  • The Star Wars trilogy (original)

A kid on a distant planet finds out about a magical “force” from an old man and he learns to be a Jedi and they fight against the Empire and yada yada. Honestly, if you don’t know this, then I hope that 35-year coma was really peaceful and lovely.

Why it fails the test:

There are only three named female characters in the original trilogy with speaking roles – Princess Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma, one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance. In three films, none of them says a word to each other. Seriously, George, why is the whole galaxy a sausage fest? Do those bacta tanks grow babies, too?

An extra big kick in the nuts to Star Wars fans: The prequel trilogy actually passes the test (partially). Padme speaks to Shmi Skywalker in Episode I and to her handmaidens at various points in Episode II, and in both cases, they discuss things other than men. (Episode III does still fail, though. No females speak to each other in that one.)

  • The Entire Lord of the rings trilogy

A hobbit gets caught up in a huge war when he has to take a magic ring right to the bad guy’s front door. If you’re behind on this one, too, then I’m honestly kinda surprised you even know what movies are. Why are you here?

Why it fails the test:

Despite having three strong female characters in Arwen, Eowyn, and Galadriel, they’re all in completely different parts of Middle Earth and they never even meet, much less talk to each other. Seriously, in the entire 10-hour trilogy, no two female characters ever actually speak to each other. Considering the fact that the entire population of New Zealand is in these movies, it kinda seems statistically impossible.

So you see, it doesn’t matter if you have strong female characters in the movie also because they never speak to each other and that’s statistically impossible. No women goes a day without speaking to another women.

People may disagree with me saying that movie goers do not care about these issues nor is it relevant but you should.

At its core, the Bechdel test gives you an insight about gender disparity in cinema. And I’m amazed by why people wouldn’t notice the fact the absence of women interaction in the film as much as they would notice a man’s absence.

Take Steel Magnolias for instance, a film that has an entire female cast and revolves around women hood and the challenges surrounding it. A man watching the film would immediately notice that the overwhelmingly female cast has little to no men in any frame. While we never even notice that there are seemingly few women in major blockbusters like the above mentioned ones. We would demand that there be more of a role for men rather than they just stand around pandering to their wives.

Some barely pass the test like Iron man 2 where there is only a single line that is exchanged between Pepper Potts and Natasha Romanoff.

At the heart of it all, what I find is that the major number of directors and scriptwriters are male and thus turn a blind view to female representation. After all its not their fault. Men get to save the day in movies and survive difficult relationships and undergo drama while women are relegated to being someone’s wife, sister, mother. They simply serve to be arm candy or propagate the male character’s qualities or the storyline. Their entire existence revolves around men and they are very flat in character.

Of course its not to say that we shouldn’t see or enjoy movies that fail this test. All of Christopher Nolan’s movies fail this test but that doesn’t mean that they are any less amazing.

I just find it surprising that most movies fail to incorporate these basic requirements and I think it reflects the kind of inherent sexism that we are now used to.

An all male cast movie with a few female characters interspersed would be watched by all but a majority female cast movie would be seen by only a handful of women and even then box office sales usually never recover profit. That’s why we need to encourage more women in directing and script writing. We need more women centric films so that a decent film can be made.

There are of course many films that do pass the Bechdel test but you would have a hard time listing them out. I give you an exercise to list atleast 10 films that pass the Bechdel test. I had to really think hard after 5 films.

All in all, the Bechdel test I feel is less of a reflection on movie makers and reflects more on us : the audience. After all, they follow our lead. If we are not bothered there is going to be no change.

Dystopia

Dystopian literature and cinema always held a kind of fascination for me. As someone who loves planning for the future, ( and forgetting to live in the present in the process) it is exciting to read what people think the future looks like.

Most of what I’ve read or seen in this category is usually​ YA literature like Hunger games, Divergent series and Maze runner series and movies like V for Vendetta, Blade runner, Black mirror series.

All these have one thing in common. I love the concept but don’t see it realistically happening in the future. That’s until I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

No other book has shown dystopia in such a light that has managed to give me nightmares. It differs from what I’ve read in two major aspects:

  • YA literature shows the future but never shows how it came to be this way. It simply is. So it doesn’t feel real. While Margaret Atwood has described how the future came to be.

Even you would boil to death in a bathtub of water if it heats slowly enough.

These lines are said by the protagonist Offred giving a clue that the present future came to be very slowly, it creeped up on them so slow that they accepted the reality as they got used to it.

In the novel, it is mentioned in a series of flashbacks that first there were terrorist attacks, so the people gave up their rights of privacy and allowed to the government to conduct surveillance ( sounds familiar?)

Later they imposed emergency restrictions. Again people thought it was temporary only and accepted it as a way of life .Later the government froze bank accounts of women and forces then from workplaces. Again people thought this was for a short time. They couldn’t believe it was happening and we’re sure it would be revoked.

Then the final blow came by a rule which forbid women from holding property. Later their right to have abortions was taken away( because of declining fertility in the world)

These all changes occured so slowly that people took it in their stride and before the women knew it, they had become Handmaidens.

  • YA literature always shows a strong female character who is able to overcome all odds and fight them.

What makes The Handmaid’s tale different is that the female protagonist has no real freedom. She is truely oppressed and watched by a facist government like that in V for Vendetta. Thats what makes it more believable. Because in any dystopian future, it’s more likely that rights of women would be the first to be thrown out of the window.

I don’t know about men, but from a female perspectives, this book scared the hell out me in a way that no other book has managed to do in a long time.

If that was not enough, Hulu has recently released series of the same name. It is shockingly similar to the book and follows it line to line. If you want to see your nightmare come alive on screen, I highly recommend it.

This line sums up how everything came to be in the future. Justifying violence or any method of oppression undertaken just because you feel it is for the betterment of people can only lead to disaster because someone will always be worse off.

This is something we all can learn from.

Low on dopamine

My heart yearns for something I do not know. It’s a feeling that crashes in waves when I listen to pieces of music, when my mind is at rest, is blank. 

These feelings creep up on me suddenly like serial killers in a movie, and I cannot pinpoint what is it that upsets me.

It’s a hollow kind of sensation that makes you feel worthless or unworthy of love and eats you up inside. Yet I cannot stop listening to sad music which is the root cause. It’s a vicious circle and  I’m addicted like a moth to a flame.

I, of course can’t tell this to people in the real world. They would think I’m crazy. So I pour my feelings on digital paper so that some unknown strangers can read it. That’s been my childhood coping mechanism. It calms me down since I haven’t repressed it somewhere in the recesses of my mind.

Thats why I love when my brain is constantly buzzing with activity. It gives me an opportunity to suppress these bizarre thoughts that I keep having. Is this how everyone feels or is it just me?

 Maybe this why people do drugs and alcohol . To stay numb. I’m reminded of that scene in Inception where there are a bunch of old people forever dreaming and it has slowly become their reality.

Its the curse of the modern world. Where you stay stimulated and distracted long enough to forget your problems. 

the haunting music that usually gets me

Conundrum

Have you met someone you really really admired or respected and then after they said something, you couldn’t get past that?

I experienced that recently. It was quite a turnabout and I couldn’t see that person in any other way.

My obgy teacher was teaching us the basics about obstetrics. It was a fun lecture. He was hilarious and knew how to get our attention in class.

In the middle of the lecture, we were learning about a D and C operation ( it’s used for abortions) when he revealed to us that he works in a Christian missionary and as a general rule they turn away women who want abortions at the gate. He went so far as to tell that he doesn’t believe in doing that procedure and insisted that people should get married if they don’t want children out of wedlock. To his credit, he did say that he supported abortions in case of rape or life threatening cases.

That was it for me. His respect in my eyes took a nose dive and I couldn’t concentrate in the lecture anymore. Nobody around me was affected. I couldn’t understand it. This has never affected me before. Usually all those anti abortion people I see are those for whom I don’t have respect anyways so it never unnerved me.

But this was something out of the blue. This man was a fantastic teacher. I loved the way he explained concepts, an excellent doctor and very polite with patients.

I never realised how strong my stance as a pro choice person was before.

He did say he supported abortions in serious conditions but he still worked in a missionary hospital which didn’t allow him to do any abortions. So was he not fooling himself?  Those hospitals have been known to turn people away unless they are dying. 

In a country where people are uneducated about contraceptives and religious customs forbid them, it’s a boon for the mother. She can in secret have an abortion even though she is pressured by her husband and inlaws.

Refusing her such a service should be a crime. 

And that is why I hate mixing religion with health care services or science for that matter. Because science may change but religion always has to impose it’s laws on people. Many of these religion oriented hospitals have been known to daily force the teachings of their saviour on the patients while they admitted in the hospital.

 Otherwise why would there be any need to announce the religion of the hospital? If you want to pray, then go to a place of worship. Hospitals are not the place for that. Here hard science is taking place and healthcare should be given to all without any restrictions or religious sermons being delivered.

As for my teacher, I realised that what he did was his own choice. I could be angry at him or learn the good things from him and implement them in the future so that atleast I never turn anyone away in the future.

Needy baby, greedy baby

Some days being in the field of medicine feels a lot like taking care of a big needy baby. 

It doesn’t care what your needs are. It just wants you to pay attention to it and feed it and take care of it.

It’s increasingly beginning to feel like I’m investing my time into a greedy infant who is basically sucking my soul and just takes and takes. Nothing I do can make him stop crying.

Why do I say that? 

Final year of medicine is here. Dun dun dun!!!

It’s been three days since it started and I’m already falling behind. I don’t know how this is possible.

Much like taking care of a baby, I’m thinking constantly about it, have dark circles under my eyes and feel sleep deprived.

Wish this baby would just grow up and leave me alone!!!

Oh doctor! My doctor!

How many of us have heard the phrase “he’s not a good doctor”, “the doctor is so rude”, “he has no bedside manners”

In today’s world we demand so much of our doctors. We expect them to be 

  1. brilliant at diagnosis, 
  2. infallible, 
  3. non judgemental
  4. Kind
  5. Able to hold our hand
  6. Incorruptible
  7. In prime of their health (after all who wants to take health advice from an unhealthy person?)
  8. Neat presentation with no tattoos and flashy haircuts.( Because that’s something only teenagers do right?)

Whew! There’s so much we expect from them never mind the fact that an ideal doctor is yet to be found.

But the biggest thing that irritates people is lack of bed side manners. The lay public can never grasp the true intelligence of a doctor. Only those working with them can assess them fully.Hence these people skills are the only deciding factor used in judging the ability of a doctor.

Often what I find is that the good doctors( as said by people) are not intelligent ones while the ones that are universally acknowledged by their colleagues as genius have very bad manners.

People’s perceptions of what an ideal doctor looks like is far fetched from reality. The truth is people are hypocrites.

They all want a doctor like Gregory House but on encountering him in real life, they rather sue him for misconduct.And I agree, no one wants a doctor like him. He is rude , obnoxious and basically everything not in the list.

So why this there such a big communication gap between people’s expectations and physicians?

The obvious answer would be that those skills are considered secondary. And no matter what people say, the main job of a doctor is and is only diagnosis. In fact medical studies comprises an ocean of knowledge. Doctors spend their youth in chasing that knowledge. There is really no time to learn how to deal with people.

It does not help that even mentors and people they work with daily, do not give this topic much importance. They are sometimes encouraged to act a certain way.

Dealing with patients is an art. It needs to be developed and nutured. Unfortunately when there is no one there to guide you, it can be tricky. I myself being a student have committed many blunders ranging from mistaking the patients mother as her grandmother to asking a patient how she got pregnant as opposed to when did she know she was pregnant ( the poor women was quizzically wondering whether she would have to give me a talk about the birds and bees!)

Most people I know, are drowning in  a pile of studies to bother about refining their manners. Learning some bedside manners does not help you score brownie points with the examiner. 

The solution to this problem at this point requires compromise on both sides.

Patients need to lessen their expectations and doctors need to take a little more effort because sometimes medicine just isn’t enough.

This quote perhaps best summarises my long rambling post. As a future doctor I can only try from now on to stop looking at the disease and instead look at the person as a whole.

And as for the readers, please bear with your doctor. He/she too deserves some kindness in their lives just as you expect from him.

A day of reckoning.

Bright light floods my eyes. My pupils constrict and I raise my arm trying to catch the light source. But suddenly a man’s head block the source. Before I can wonder what he is doing, he shoves his tool inside my mouth and stretches it wide open.

He probes inside me deeper and deeper and surprisingly I don’t do anything about it. I lay back and let him do what he likes. At the end he finishes, retracts his tool and whispers in my ear, it’s all over now. I lay back with relief, glad that it’s over.

Hold your horses people! And the dirty minded people in  the audience, stop smirking! 

I was at the dentist! Getting a root canal done. The shame that has befallen my family! My parents who have both been given the perfect specimen of pearly whites, choose to pass on the best to me. And what did i do? Spoil it rotten with sweets and chocolates and what not.

Nothing is more of a wake up call than your teeth falling apart. Going to the dentist is something I hate and even more so when I saw the bill.

My parents haven’t stopped giving me shameful looks since I returned from the dentist. They have never needed a root canal but sadly their daughter at the mere age of 21 does. 

After giving an apology that mostly consisted of the words teeth, brushing and sorry, I hope I don’t have another appointment with strange men digging inside me! 

Jump outside the box.

Expectations are the bane of our existence. I’m not talking about the expectations that people have for us regarding our careers or our lives.

From the moment we are born, or even before that, our gender guarantees some expectations being placed on us.

Boys and girls  have to behave a certain way. 

If you are a girl, welcome to the world of self preening and self care. Your world is pink and filled with frivolous things. You are judged by your ability to be a “good girl”. Your value is determined by your beauty. Rarely by your intellect.

As a boy, manly characteristics are your defining feature. The ability to grow a beard or mustache is the first trial to proving you are a man. The commonly heard phrase “don’t cry like a girl” and “you fight like a girl” are taken as an insult to your manhood.

Recently my friends commented on looking at a young actor’s physique, that though he was handsome, he was clean shaven and that made him look gay and unappealing. They laughed at the idea of that guy being a “real man”

How is being gay equated with being less of a man, i do not understand. And what is the definition of being a real man? Is it the one who still thinks he lives in the 80s, is a misogynist and thinks it’s okay to dominate his wife and beat her? Is it the one who has muscles popping in every direction and is a real Casanova?

On that note, the term being a women has also many connotations. You are expected to be hairless, fair, dainty. Tell that to girls who suffer from PCOD. They didn’t choose to have that disease. It doesn’t make them any less of a girl if they have hair spouting from their face, or that they are overweight. And yet they have to face taunts everyday because people cannot understand them or box them in a category. 

Gender is a fluid term. It is a happy accident that determines our gender at birth. Even then there is no guarantee that you will fit into your assigned box. There are numerous examples of transgenders who switched because they felt trapped.

And trapped indeed you are. It can be horrifying when you feel you don’t fit in with people of the same sex. Depression can even occur when you are born in a religious society that expects you to stick to what God gave you.

People need to stop saying things like you are a boy/ girl, you should behave this way. A person shouldn’t be forced to be anyone he/ she does not want to be.

So stop telling your little boy that pink is a girly colour or shoving in your little girls face, Barbies when all she wants to do is play with cars and robots.

Let children be who they are without unnecessary expectations. As such life ensures that we have other burdens placed on us anyways. Maybe you can give them this small mercy.

I envision a future where any boy can wear dresses and any girl can be whoever she wants without anyone telling them they should conform or stick to something. Maybe that will be possible in the future. Till then, keep this quote in mind and watch your actions accordingly .

Tis the season


Today is one of those days where I would like to sing Beyonce’s song “if I were a boy”.

Really being a girl is a pain sometimes. And why would I say that?

Tis the wedding season darling! Nothing makes you realise that you are a girl faster than the wedding season.

Disclaimer: I hate shopping for clothes (I can hear the gasps of disdain from other females who agree I’m a shame to their gender. My mother and sister included.)

My ordeal begins four months before the wedding.  Traipsing across town I try to keep up with my excited mother and sister who are determined that people never doubt my gender again.

Colours and materials are thrown at as at various shops while eager salesmen look to feed their family at our expense. The Indian mentality of ‘aur dikhao’ is fully seen here. No one does it better than two females determined to wear only the best (at may I add, a wedding that isn’t even theirs).

Trying out clothes is a funny thing. There is no faster way of becoming more self conscious of your body. The dresses that fit you, don’t suit you and those that don’t, make you regret eating that entire chocolate bar while you were binge watching on Netflix.

After many grunts and sighs, you finally find a dress that looks nice. Now when you come out of the dressing room you are subjected to judges aka your family, the salespeople and random strangers.

You think it’s over? No! After this you drag your tired and hungry self to buy matching jewelry. Here again this entire process repeats making you wonder why you aren’t a guy. 

Life is much easier that way. You show up it’s done. No plethora of clothes, jewelry or makeup thrown at you. Just showing up is enough.

My conspiracy theory is that all this choices are there to distract women from one main thing: education. The time I spent doing all this shit ( pardon the language) could’ve been spent in doing something useful.

But I digress.

 As a parting note, who says it’s a man’s world? Going by the sheer choice and the number of people who’s livelihood depends on women’s clothes, I can only sing another of Beyonce’s songs

Who run the world? Girls!!