Monday, November 8, 2010

The little things you do

"Dear God, please make me slim, fair and beautiful. And in case you can't, please make all my girl friends fat and ugly".
No, no, no...please don't get me wrong. This is not a wish from my side. It is a common joke on female friendship that floats about. Honestly, I could never laugh after reading this joke. It makes me stand in front of a very uncomfortable question: can girls really be friends to each other? Or to frame it little differently, do women really value friendship!

I think it is a pure social conditioning that, in our country when most girls are growing up, they are often taught separate set of values, separate set of priorities than the boys. Thus, it is taught to them, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly that her husband or husband's family has supreme priority over anything else in the world ! No,even she as a person do not generally feature in that priority list. And of course friends are never ever there in that list. In fact, the girl is considered quite dysfunctional, if she has too many friends that she cares about!

Now, fortunately or unfortunately I was brought up with "progressive ideologies" and always viewed friendship as something that too needs to be nurtured along with other relationships. As a result of this ideology and the resultant expectations, I have had plenty of experiences that shook my belief in friendship from my same gender time and again. And later on when I evaluated the situation, it somehow always boiled down to the social conditioning or insecurities of girls/women that actually make them selfish or even narrow. Let me share some examples.

It was a packed class room where an exam was supposed to begin in a few minutes. I reached the place
with one of my best friends in tow. There was only one coveted seat in the first row (yes we were the typical "first-benchers" ;-) ), but many in the last. I waited for my friend thinking we will sit together. But she dodged me in a mad rush to reach the place in the first row. She pretended complete unawarenes of the situation and I pretended the same and yes we are friends even today. But yes, I knew from that time onwards, how insecure she is as a person and how much she will give me her hand if I am sinking!
Examples like this can go on for pages. Friends completely forgetting the existence of their so-called "best friends" after getting married or friends shutting their doors on you during week ends as that's the "family time" etc etc!

There is one even funnier fact is that as a woman, if you believe in giving some priority to your friends you are considered to be one unhappy soul, who did not get enough attention from her male counterpart. I actually think it is the opposite. If you are a happy person, at ease with your relationships, you actually have more love to give, to share. It is not too tough to strike a balance only if you believe in yourself as a person.

Don't get me wrong, I still have girl friends who lend a shoulder to cry in times of need, or do fun things together (and some of them will be reading this blog too :-) ) but somehow that group feels to be a minority. I so wish, that we as women learn to strike a balance between our 'domestic lives" and everything else someday soon. We need to learn to live fully. Not just as someone's daughter, wife or mother but as a person and only then we will be able to appreciate the true meaning of friendship or any other relationship for that matter.

This post will remain incomplete if I do not acknowledge all my friends, who have proved much more beyond the social stereotypes. Who beyond being a mother, a wife or a daughter have proved to be an equally caring friend to all her female friends as well. They have proved that diamonds are not necessarily a girl's best friend.
And to tell them how much I value their friendship, I am simply going to copy from the recent Vodaphone advertisement, which I love so much.

Little things you do for me
and no body else makes me feel good
little things you do for me
making me smile and no one else could
that’s why I like to sit next to you
and hear your mad stories/ I know they are not true
and I like that we share a secret or two together
little things you do for me...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fairly unfair

Your husband is enamoured by you if you look fairer, you feel more confident when you are fairer, you walk the ramp more gracefully when you are fairer, you even perform better on a singing or even a cycling competition when you are fairer, your father's (who is, by the way, a make up artist) humiliation in the hands of a pompous actress disappears when you look fairer! And hello, since you are a "modern" woman, you accept fairness only when they come with a proof and esp when the ingredients are "ayurvedic"!!!

Well..I think you got a drift by now as to what I am talking case you are not an avid TV watcher, I am talking about the numerous commercials on fairness creams which keep coming every two minutes these days on TV!

Now, I have nothing against the fairness cream manufacturers or the TV commercials that proclaim their wonders. But TV commercials only project the general psyche of the society which helps find a market for products. And their lies my concern. In this age of modernization where we claim of moving forward, why this backward pull of celebrating our skin colour (or the lack of it!).

Yes, I understand that women (and men too) always want to look beautiful. Beauty is something which is coveted by the poets, the philosophers, the rich, the get the drift. From the fairy tales to the job interviews I am told that, beauty is celebrated with much fervour always. But beauty cannot be synonymous to fairness! It cannot be something as superficial as your skin colour! Then why is this eternal quest for fairer skin? Is it some kind of a heritage of the British Raj that we, Indians admire the lack of melanin (the pigment that is responsible for dark skin) in the skin so much! Melanin is actually a protective pigment which protects us from skin cancer, in case you didn't know! Then why such angst against melanin! From the time the kids start playing with dolls with with fair skin and blue eyes, this fascination with fair skin continues to grow. I am told (mostly by the TV commercials and some serials again) that even today, girls with darker skin colour neither find suitable jobs nor grooms! It is really funny that on one hand, we abhor racism and on the other, we still judge people by their skin colour!

Don't get me wrong, I am not against looking your best. Quite on the contrary, I believe that yes, you should look after yourself, look well and feel well about yourself too. But this mass hypnotizing on trying to achieve fairer skin, which culminates women measuring their skin tone with a "shade-o-meter" is down right derogatory to my mind! I wonder what impact these ads might be having on young girls! I hope this generation teenagers are smarter to shun the superficiality and accept the substance in their life! I hope that all this mass hypnotizing on the eternal quest to achieve a few shade lighter skin colour does not lead to a poor self image, I hope they realize instead of fighting the melanin of skin, it is a better idea to try to achieve a healthier skin, a healthier life and a healthier mindset which ultimately will lead you to beauty-both inside and outside!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Becoming a doctor

Yesterday was doctor's day. Like so many other days that we celebrate these days, we have a doctor's day too. Many people came and wished me and suddenly I was filled with so many mixed and confused feelings that they are now paving their way to this blog post! ;-)

Yes I am a doctor. I have slogged almost 5 gruelling years in being successful to write the "Dr' in front of my name. And let me be frank, it was such an amazing feeling that time to write that prefix in front of my name, it made all the madness of those five years seem absolutely sane! Hmmn, now you are wondering why I am calling this five years of medical training as a madness! If it was such a madness,why did I even think of a further madness of three years in achieving a post graduate degree! Well, let me explain.

What will you call the experience of trying to keep awake the whole night with intermittent intake of raw coffee powder in order to understand some weird biochemical pathway of how cholesterol is formed in the body step by step? Or may be trying to learn by heart words like Cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene and trying to even remember what this weird sounding name looks like (for the uninitiated, it is the structure of a steroid!). Or how about spending a whole evening in the spring, that too when you are only 19 years old, trying to understand something called tricotilomania! Well, I call them madness, esp when the experience continues for whole 5 YEARS!

I tell you what, actually what is even more maddening is that after spending so much of time and energy in learning many inane pieces of information (and some useful ones), when you think you are the walking talking knowledge bank on this earth and land up the hospital wards for performing your duty as a doctor, you are completely taken aback at the utter disillusionment that awaits you. For one, many a times you are being called as a "sister" (of course you have to belong to the same privileged sex as me), in the medicine OPD the medical representatives don't even pay attention to you, in the hospital wards you are only being asked to make i.v channels and take blood samples and do catheterization by your seniors, in the surgery OT, you just get to pass on the scalpel and worse still, in the orthopedic OPD, you try your best to keep holding someones heavy legs, which seems to betray you at every moment!

So, somewhere people like me, esp the first generation doctors, who thought, the day we pass out from the medical school, everybody will start treating us with awe and wonder, we will become rich and famous soon, started a process of disillusionment which seemed to deepen by the day! We felt small and let down when we saw our school mates, who got in to engineering, started to earn hefty packets soon after graduation while we were searching for redemption in a successful lumbar puncture or may be by taking out blood samples of 100 patients in a day. And on top that, the only hope to get out of this routine was to qualify for a post graduate exam for which you are supposed to outperform thousands of equally brilliant doctors for one seat! Isn't it all sheer madness!

OK, so is it all about a mad bleak picture for which I started to write this blog? Not at all. Contrary to whatever you might have thought after reading till this, I am very happy to be a doctor. Yes, it is true that I don't actively see patients everyday as my chosen field of work does not so demand, but I have come a long way from a very scary winter night some fifteen years back,when I was scared when my father was having an asthma attack and I could not fathom what to do, or a day when I used to be scared if somebody in my home fell ill. I am scared no more. I know how to reach out to many in pain, in illness. My friends and colleagues who actively work in the clinics, most of them somehow or the other feel redeemed (apart from the monetory redemption ;-) ) at the end of a hard day's work. For me, I work in a domain which allows me to help the process of new drug development in a minuscule way and I know every medicine is a hope for somebody somewhere, someday.

Yes, I love my profession. Today, all the madness of five years and beyond of my medical education makes absolute sense to me. I have no regrets and I am proud to be a doctor. One of my colleagues passed me a beautiful quote yesterday and I am copying the same here:

"For Years we pore over black and white,
The pages may blur but not our sight.
For we have a vision of the serpents and the wand,
The sign of healing under which we bond.
so here's to all who sail the same boat,
united in our goal by the same white coat"

Cheers to being a doctor!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Social and Unsocial networking!

I have often wondered if all the buzz about social networking sites mean that we are really becoming more social! Are we sort of bonding more with one another! May be across the boundaries of cities/countries/religion/age! Is it kind of the way John Lennon says "Imagine there is no country/it's not hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for/and no religion too/Imagine all the people/living life in peace".

How I wish that was true. But well, I don't think so. I think somehow somewhere, "social networking" has the potential to make us more unsocial! For many of us, who do not like to face reality and like to live in a virtual world, these places give a perfect hide out! Its a make believe situation, a place where you can fool yourself! For example, you have a lot of friends in your list, but how many of them are really your friends! How many of them will turn up in the middle of the night if you call them in the middle of a crisis. With how many of them you will even want to share your tears! Not many, I guess. So what is the point! "Society"/"friends" are supposed to be a kind of support system isn't it?

In this age of consumerism, thanks to our highly fashionable hi-tech cell phones or the laptops and palm tops etc it seems that "we are connected to our friends all the time". But I fear in the midst of all this, we are actually losing the connection with the real people. The real 'friends' you know, the people who matter! People like your mom, dad or may be your husband or wife or may be your siblings/cousins or may be even your neighbours! Well, they wont post a comment on your latest snazzy snap or wont even "poke/scrap" you but aren't they the ones who are supposed to matter!

I have even seen young couples who after coming back from a hard day's work from office, instead of talking to each other, spend the rest of the evening in social networking sites! It relaxes them! Call me old fashioned, but aren't they wasting precious time which they could have used to bond with each other- in a meaningful way perhaps! After all, Life is finite. Kya pata kal ho na ho!

I have heard often times that keeping "relation with relatives" is really challenging. They tend to judge you, not care for you, are prone to jealousy etc etc. Which unfortunately is all true! But well, that is how we human beings are! Our virtual friends if happen to become "real" somehow will also show exactly the same colours. It is difficult to generalize. There are good people and there are bad people- whether they are virtual or real! It is your luck I guess as to whom you come across. But unless you are ready to invest your time, take a bit of risk and come out of your insecurities how will you ever find out!

Don't get me wrong, I am not at all against of any of the social networking sites. I myself have found many of my old friends through them, which otherwise would have been impossible. The social networking in the form of my blog helps me share my thoughts with many people (people who matter though:-)) I also quite admire the fact that you can actually come across so many people who perhaps share the same interest and that gives a platform to share your thoughts with them. It is amazing how it can help you when you feel lonely too! But I am also certain that like everything else, if we do not know how to use it, it will actually make us more unsocial, more isolated and perhaps sometimes even lonelier!
What do you think!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Women and their day!

Yes you are right. I am talking about Women's day! Well, you see International women's day came and went; not that it altered anything in my life, but the day, the associated events did give rise to enough thoughts in my mind to feel compelled to come back to my blog :)

My friends (and foes) often call me a 'feminist'; sometimes as a rebuke, sometimes as a criticism and rarely as a compliment. Earlier, I used to oppose vehemently to this, as generally I am opposed to this idea of getting tagged with any particular "ism", but these days I let it be. I know whatever I say or do wont really change their thoughts or their interpretation(as if anybody is interested to interpret) of my thoughts. So I am sure nobody will be surprised by my blog topic! :-)

Well coming to the point, I am hugely averse to the idea of "women's day". It makes me feel I belong to a "endangered species" to say the least. I mean, if we are almost(if not completely) same as our men folk, then why we need to celebrate specially my gender? Well, they don’t have a 'men's day" for that matter and they don’t seem to mind that very much either! Or is it some way of rubbing it in that the rest 364 days are actually men's days? The answer eludes me, but if you get the answer, do share!

Now my critics tell me that we also celebrate mother's day, father's day and so on and so forth, then what is wrong in a woman's day. But is celebrating a relationship, an emotion same as celebrating one's gender? I leave the question open ended here. There is also another argument that this day signifies the struggles of the 'less privileged' women! I thought even less privileged men face the similar struggles! Then a "less privileged day" would make better sense, wont it?

May be its only fair to give a chance to the companies selling women's products to get a fair chance to push-off their products in the garb of "women's day special sale", but then why pretend of other altruistic philosophies of "celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements"! well..I did not know that achievements can be so generic! Or is it so rare to get a woman achevier that it is something out of the world!

Well, whatever the reason behind it, we do celebrate the International Women's Day. And how we do it! For those of us who work, we were pink sarees (or some other colour for that matter) on that day,(dress up exactly the way men want us to be- the typical baby doll!), cut a cake, play games during office hours and in general make a fool of ourselves? Why? What are we celebrating like this? the generaic status of belonging to the female sex? Reportedly some of the companies even have "fashion shows" and " best dressed woman" contest on that day? Are these activities linked to economic, political and social achievements in any way??? Escapes my sense of logic but yes let me agree that I am may be bit "illogical".

The very fact that we have a woman's day, where I am made to sit through completely unimportant people giving incoherent,irrelevant and chauvinistic speech is a reminder for me that yes, may be still today we are kind of endangered, may be we are not really human, but belong to a separate species! How I dread the woman's day or may be the corporate way of celebrating woman's day every year, which atleast for me brings back the similar routine lunacy almost everytime!