Parenthood is a tricky phase. Along with a precious new life inside the house, you now have two young parents who are about to find themselves overwhelmed in a world of love, memories and yes, even fatigue as the first year goes by. Everyone they meet will have words of advice on what is best for the new addition to the family and how to keep the child safe and healthy, avoiding health issues like chest infections and skin ailments.

So how do you separate the correct information from the rest of the avalanche doled out by everyone from your grandparents to the maid servant regarding how you should look after your child? How do you know what is truly good for your child's skin? Here are five dictums that every parent should know about and follow to ensure that first year is a blissful happy memory to look back upon.

1. Bathing - Less is More.

Unlike our adult daily routine which has us weaving through crowded buses and sweating in the hot sun, a baby's life does not often involve them getting very dirty in the first year of their life.
  • For the first month, a basic sponge bath two to three times a week should suffice.
  • Bathing too frequently can be detrimental to the baby as it removes the natural oils that protects their skin, thus making them vulnerable to allergies.
  • Bath in warm water and avoid keeping them for long in soapy water.
  • Apply baby lotion or moisturizer while the skin is still wet and then pat dry.

Doc talk: If you are using soaps, do not keep changing the brands because you do not wish to expose the baby to too many chemicals at such a young age while the immunity is still developing.

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"One man alone cannot make a difference. " his friends warned him.
He smiled, determined to prove them wrong. This one man was an NRI - a non-resident Indian - who found himself disillusioned with the ruling government of his home country. Angry with the way they were treating his fellow Indians, he chose to return back to India and take on the system. He wanted to ensure that every Indian was treated equally and given their rights, something that he felt was not happening.
One man could make a difference and kick-start a revolution, he believed.

He found the land he returned to far more complex than the white and black image of right and wrong he had envisioned. His efforts to point out the flaws of the ruling government were mocked not just by the leaders but even by his fellow Indians who were loyal to the government. He tried to engage them in a debate but found no takers, people choosing to insult and accuse instead.

They questioned the sincerity and motives behind his effort.
They trolled him in newspaper articles and social media, asking him why he had sat cozily abroad when other events of differential treatment had taken place earlier in India.
They dragged out every photo from his past, analyzing every tilt of his body in each frame.
Neither his old fashioned dressing sense nor his crinkly features were spared as caricatures painted him a buffoon and a cheat.
If you don't like it here, get lost, they told him.

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Do all heroes win in their battles against villains? 
What happens when you are defeated and then destroyed by your nemesis? 
How do you carry on? And what happens when the demons of your past return to terrorize you?

I always believe that one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about superhero comics from the DC and Marvel family is that it is meant essentially for children. Nothing could be farther from the truth, if you were to actually go through them. The story lines can be quite dark frankly, dealing with issues like death, rape, betrayal, alcoholism and moral choices; stuff that adults themselves often fail to deal with properly. Yes, to some level, the Marvel movies have been found guilty of being fun and light-hearted in nature as compared to their DC rivals with superheroes often taking a break in between bashing a villain to shout out jokes and punchlines. But the heroes residing within the comic book world are a far more complex breed, often suffering horrible personal traumas in their journey.

When Marvel first announced four Netflix shows based on relatively minor characters from their arsenal of heroes, fans were more curious than overjoyed. The first of those four shows (and easily, the most famous of the characters) Daredevil came out earlier this year and was phenomenally brilliant as far as TV shows go, giving you the best portrayal of the Man Without Fear till date.  It raised the bar for comic book based shows as a whole and won over the critics and the binge watchers simultaneously with its dark and edgy take.

So first things first, is Marvel's Jessica Jones a worthy follow-up act from the Marvel stable?

Simply put, Hell yes!

  • This is as dark as superhero based shows/movies have gotten till date: the theme of being manipulated against your will, raped, tortured and forced to perform despicable acts sits uneasily when portrayed on faceless characters in a show. Here, you are forced to confront the aftermath of such acts from the point of view of the heroine herself as she learns to trust both herself and others once more.
  • The overarching theme is one of power, both physical and mental (and how we choose to use it in our lives), overcoming trauma and redemption.
  • The motivations do not extend to destroying the world or robbing banks for unlimited wealth. Here, it is all about inter-personal relationships between the characters - good and bad - and that gives a very intimate feel to the show as it progresses.

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"Look at me."
He ignores my command, sitting still by the sill, from where he used to watch her every evening as she cooked.
He feared her presence as much as I had, not without reason. To the public, she was an angel - oh yes, indeed - but once the doors shut, her malevolence arose. Her disappearance had raised a few questions but I had sold the tale convincingly. She had left us and gone.
The public believed it. And in saying it over and over again, the two of us too had begun to believe the lie.
Until tonight when I returned home and he was sitting by the sill once more, his hair on end, staring beyond me at the empty chair she had always fancied.

"Look at me." I plead. He does not acknowledge my words; does not make any motion to come towards me. I hear the wooden chair creak and the cat's eyes bulge in fright before it scampers out the window.
I refuse to look back. It is just the winter. It is just the winter and I am alone in this house and she is gone and I alone know where she lies buried and nothing can harm me and...
I hear her breath beside me, wet and guttural, and a tear starts to fall down my cheek as she whispers three words into my ears.
"Look at me."

Author's note:
The above short story is based on the image prompt provided by Magpie Tales (Mag 294)

If you know me personally, you know that I tend to be quite laid-back by nature. There are a few things however that do get me riled up (fanaticism & blind beliefs among others) and one of them remains the increase in violence against doctors in India.

The doctor based social media site, DocPlexus approached me last fortnight for an interview in view of the article I had written earlier in May that had ended up in the news. DocPlexus was in fact one of the first websites to share that post and hence spread the word to other doctors, resulting in them sharing it on their social media.
Of the topics they wanted me to talk on, the one that interested me the most was something close to my heart: Why Doctors in India need to stand United.

This was easily one of the hardest interviews to write on because I am used to the much more simpler 'How long have you been blogging?' and 'What is the origin of your blog's name?' type of questions.
Anyhow, I hope I did justice to the topic and I am glad to see many of my colleagues from the medical field were very receptive to it (comments from the original interview can be viewed here), considering I have chosen once more not to sugar coat my answers but call a spade a spade.
Chosen by Blogadda as one
 of the best blogposts of the week


Why do you think doctors in India need to stand united?

Paraphrasing from the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller,

“First they came for the CMOs, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a CMO.
Then they came for the intensivists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not an intensivist.
Then they came for the surgeons, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a surgeon.
Then they came for me
and I found there was no one left to speak for me.'

This isn’t the same world as a generation ago. The doctor-patient relationship has eroded and it is a fact that we must accept. Just because violence is not occurring in your hospital today, does not mean that it will not happen tomorrow. Every act of violence you ignore emboldens the next one. We are seeing this in every aspect of our social and political life today as well, are we not? Unlike them though, for us, there are no voices – political or otherwise - to speak out simply because we are all caught up in our own busy schedules.

You can’t afford to live in a cocoon within your hospital, thinking that whatever is happening elsewhere will not affect you. Social media links us all today. Don’t underestimate – or worse, ignore – the potential it has to unite or divide. A guy seeing what he believes is medical negligence being committed by a doctor elsewhere will start to wonder about the integrity of doctors in his city too. It is human nature, isn’t it?

What do you think are some of the stressful societal issues doctors face every day?

Be frank. You know we are in a lose-lose situation presently.

When the government funding to healthcare gets slashed by 20% at a time when even an increase by 200% would barely be sufficient, that puts an untenable strain on the 31% of healthcare it caters to. The remaining 69% which forms the private sector of healthcare has to work without the subsidies and so naturally, the burden of paying a heavier price falls on the poor patient. When he has to part with a significant amount of his savings for an ailment (or sadly, a chronic one), that anger falls upon the ‘evil doctor’ who he sees as fleecing him. Since in his eyes, the patient is now paying top dollar, he expects that his diabetes be cured completely; that the single pill of amlodipine must be enough to control his hypertension once and for all; that two shots of nebulization must undo decades of a smoker’s lung.

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Do you want to see something cool? Read the names below out loud.

Al badinjan. Badinjan. Vatingana. Baingan. 
Melitzan. Melongene. Melanjan. Melanzana. 
Bazhlakhan. Berenjana. Albergina. Aubergine. 

Note the similarity in the phonetic sounds of the words above? 

In order, that is: 
Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, 
Greek, Latin, French, Italian, 
Russian, Spanish, Catalan and finally British. 

If in the penultimate step, you convert Catalan's 'albergina' into the Portuguese 'beringala' or the Swahili 'biringanya', the final step is a name more familiar to us in India and our dear friends in Malaysia, Singapore and the West Indies too: Brinjal.

Yup, the world has been playing Chinese Whispers with the poor brinjal's name for literally centuries! Shows you how connected we have been from as far back as the 5th century.

In Tamil Nadu, the aubergine is known as Kathrikkai. A traditional "Ennai Kathrikkai" is like a mini-burst of flavours in your mouth. The key components involved ideally include brinjals, a nice spicy blend of masala powders and the tangy tamarind bite all in one dish. It is usually served as a curry dish alongside rice or roti but here, we decided to make the blend of spices thicker and use it directly as a stuffing within the eggplant instead.

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I want to thank all the defenders of religion. 

Not just mine but every religion. Your religion - headed by God/ the son of God/ the prophets of God/ 330 crore Gods - would have collapsed entirely if it had not been for you. 
Sure, some of the easy things like robbery, murder et al come under the social compass of  'a crime' but then what do those law makers really know about the true crimes that God meant? The ones that God feels truly defines wrong-doers is way more specific and no doubt, accurate and it is a good thing that you are there today to help God out. 

Personally, I sincerely hope you manage to find and out all these blasphemers. And I mean, ALL of them. You know... the:

  • Non-believers of any religion.
  • Non-believers of your religion. 
  • All Christians.
  • All Hindus. 
  • All Muslims.
  • All Jews.
  • All Sikhs.  
  • All ( * insert religion * )
  • All Beef-eaters.
  • All Pork-eaters.
  • All those who eat animals that don't chew cud / have a divided hoof.
  • Those eating seafood which does not have fins or scales.
  • All those who eat non-vegetarian food on Monday, Thursday or Friday.
  • Anyone imbibing wine or alcohol.
  • Anyone getting tattoos.
  • Those who eat Any Food on religious days of fasting.
  • Those who eat fruit from a tree within 4 years of planting it.
  • Those Eating vegetables that grow under the ground.
  • Those Eating eggs.
  • Those Eating non-halal meat.
  • Those Eating non-kosher meat.
  • Those Eating non-vegetarian food.
  • Those eating green coloured vegetables during specific periods of the calendar.
  • Those who eat after sunset.
  • Those who eat with their left hand.

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