Saturday, May 22, 2010

Racism "Elected"

I have always loved theatre, the capacity for it to entertain far surpassed the passive, dreary output of the television or the cinema hall . Making provision to attend as much quality productions as possible, (that sadly were few and far between in Colombo), it is with much enthusiasm that I looked forwards to the novelty of attending a forum theatre for the first time. This was "Elected" a production by Beyond Borders, a youth-led, youth-run volunteer organisation that has engaged in initiatives that promote sustainable change in social and developmental issues.

I do not wish here to make a review of the production or its performance, for frankly I'm not adroit at that. Even so I cannot help but say, the characters were portrayed in all seriousness befitting the circumstances and the quality was indiscernible from professional productions I have chanced to encounter. The storyline and script was well written barring few minor flaws but even they did not adversely affect the quality of the play. Indeed it was construed so that a very stimulated forum for the topic "Racism" would take place.

The storyline is thus,
An election is to be held to appoint the president of a student union in a university. The two candidates are Mohan, a tamil (minority) student who runs a clean and simple campaign, and Mihiri, a sinhalese (majority) female student who enlists the help of all around her by playing the racial card. This leads to confrontation and undemocratic activity which ultimately leads to a tragedy.

Building on this the forum theatre was conducted quite deftly by ?Yohan? with excellent audience participation and response, many even getting on to the stage to act out their version of the characters course. It was a welcome addition to the somewhat passive theatre that is normally encountered and managed to enlighten different viewpoints of the "Racism" topic under discussion.

Following are some of my thoughts in addition to the ones already fielded at the FT.
In relation to the play and the events at the university,
The dean should have stepped in at the first place, and taken precautions to negate and anticipate any future events when Mihiri in her campaign opening speech roused the audience using racial undertones . The senior faculty/management must recognise that racism and irregularities exist and must be prepared to invest time and effort to develop solutions rather than resort to adversarial responses as happened with the female professor(@megtegal) under whose purview was the actual election. That professor portrayed a spineless character and should ideally have been firm, whilst being equally reconciling to defuse the escalating racist bias and ensure democratic elections. But the way in which she naturally unfolded, the prof lost the trust and possibly the accompanying student-teacher relationship by her clumsiness in handling the complaints.
Secondly Mohan should have wised up pretty soon to the situation and made efforts to negate the impact of the social injustice working against him. He may have been affected by already internalised racism in himself that prompted him to devalue himself(in relation to the majority/Mihiri) but that can hardly be expected from a bright accomplished student of 2-3 years in the campus now running for student body president. This point was brought up again by a lady sitting next to me, and that was her reason for voting for Mihiri if she'd had the chance.
Thirdly as Prof. Ananda had a history of influencing elections even in the past a more diligent eye on his activities should have been kept by the election commissioned prof.
The other student union/body members could also have made a better show of support to ensure that democratic elections took place, but unfortunately they weren't even featured in the play. Self Realization and commitment to change by them from the current set of racial beliefs and attitudes might have made a big difference in the final outcome.

Racism albeit slightly, has been studied for its influence on health and found to have disastrous outcomes. The person under injustice is on constant stress. Think about it, how many times don you think about your race/religion during the course of a day? I wager that if you belong to a minority you are bound to think about it more frequently. The person under injustice will have increased incidence of depression, anxiety and anger. That is but a part of the emotional and physical toll that ensues from racial injustice.

"Silence is Consent"
The jocquer, posed an interesting question close to the end of the play, "what will you do now this has happened." in a very antagonizing manner. As a thug he was directly preventing the choice of others to retaliate and wanted them to acquiescence with him, betraying their moral righteousness instead for thug protection. It would've been interesting to know the responses to that question had it been posed to the audience.

In reality all of us agree that racism is wrong, yet outrageously there is very little we do to decrease this prevalence and for that all of us are in blame,.

As physicians we claim to not practice overt racism, but though we are reluctant to admit it in ourselves and our peers, there are some aspects/influences that happen without awareness. It is important then to constantly keep a wary eye out for this.

I wish to thank all at Beyond Borders for organising and inviting us to this timely and thought provoking forum theatre, which has broadened our viewpoint and in truth created a certain selfawareness over racism. Kudos to the actors, director and assisting staff for a powerful production. Hope you will continue along these traditions to meet headon such social issues and continue to create forum for discussion and citizen participation.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Are you addicted? I found I am

Too much of anything is good for nothing.

Certain problems arise with use of alcohol, psychoactive drugs, other substances and generally anything taken "too much". These problems maybe physical, psychological, social even economical but most are characterised by being repeatedly ignored in our effort to satisfy our primal need, our "id".
Hence realising that the behaviour is problematic and that your dependent upon it is the first step in modifying the behaviour.

In medicine there are explicit criteria for figuring this out.

1) A strong desire or sense of compulsion to take the substance.
2) Difficulties in refraining from using the substance, stop using it, or limiting the amount taken.
3) A physiological withdrawal state(symptoms and signs) occuring when the substance use has been stopped or been reduced.
4) Evidence of tolerance, in which increased doses of the substance are required to produce the effect originally produced by lower doses.
5) Progressive neglect of alternative pleasures or interests due to use of the substance.
6) Persistent use of substance despite clear evidence of harm.

If you've experienced at least 3 of these characteristics in the past 12 months, you're dependent on it.
I have at least 5 out of them. My addiction- twitter.
Now the big question, knowing it, what am i going to do about it?

Reply and tweet this if you're addicted too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The cold wind

The wind blows hard tonight,
It's a cold, damp, disturbing wind,
And I think about,
By the gutters,
The men on the street.
I hope some of them have,
At least,
A bottle that's warm.

It's when you're on the street,
That you notice,

Is owned,
And there are locks on,
This is the way a democracy works.

You get what you can,
Try to keep that,
And add to it,
If possible.
Until possible.

This is the way a dictatorship works too,
Once they either enslave,
Or destroy their

A newspaper flaps by.

With time,
We just forget the men below.

In either case,
It's a hard, cold,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If a snake bites...

Sri Lanka are host to a rich and diverse snake fauna of close to a hundred species, of which only a few(7) are venomous. Hence even though there are a reported high number of snake bites per year(around 50,000 if my memory serves me right), of these only about 100-200 people die due to snake bite. This is a relatively high burden and the outcome of some of these deaths could have been different if proper first aid was given at the initial stages. Snake bites occur frequently around Colombo too, in the suburbs so do not think this is restricted to the villages. Here are a little pointers on first aid treatment of a snake bite.

-Do not panic
-Do not make any cut, scratch or incision at wound site
-Do not suck at the wound
-Do not use a conventional very tight constricting band or tourniquet
-Do not apply ice packs to the bitten area
-Do not drink alcohol, take herbal medicine or aspirin

Calm the bitten person as far as possible, excitement causes the increased blood flow, letting the venom be quickly absorbed to give toxic effects. Say to the victim, "Most bites are by non-venomous snakes. Even if so, most of the time the venom if injected is hardly enough to be toxic. Effective Antivenom is available as a specific antidote."
-Remove all rings, bracelets from the bitten part of the body
Sometimes the bitten area may become swollen and blood flow will be obstructed by these leading to secondary problems.
-Wash the bitten area with soap and water
It neutralises part of the venom as also keeps other harmful agents out. Remember to get a tettanus jab if you haven't got one recently.
-Immobilise the bitten limb with a splint or sling and keep the limb below heart level
To minimise systemic absorption of venom.
-Get medical help as quick as possible
Transport the patient avoiding movement as safely and comfortably as possible.
-If in severe pain Paracetamol may be given in usual dose.
(do not use aspirin)
-If possible bring the dead snake for identification
Though not essential for the species diagnosis, the dead snake if available, is a confirmation to clinical findings. But be very careful to not be bitten again when trying to collect the snake.

Avoid snake bites too if you are in a very prevalent area by,
-being specially vigilant after rain, flooding, harvest also at night(use a torch)
-try to wear shoes/boots/long trousers
-frequently check houses for snakes(wattle and daub with thatched roofs)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My friend (Part 3)

I knew I was doomed, as he rose from his seat,
And found his way towards me,
He pointed the sign, 'Silence Please',
And asked, 'Can't you see?'

'Sorry', I murmured, I gathered my bag,
Burning in my ears, in shame,
With a glare at you, I rose to leave,
Was mine, all the blame?

Your eyes still twinkle,
You smile. Huh. Me, to you a joke,
You followed me, as I sped out,
For a moment nobody spoke,
Would I have ever,
But then, your laugh booming out, through the hall,
Breaking in to me, dragging me out,
We laughed at the entire thing,
Our friendship grew, ever since,
Like the blossoms of the spring.

Posted by ShoZu

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Invest in time...

What is the your most valuable resource in the world? Is it money, jewellery or any other material possession? To me, it's time. Time is the only thing that starts to dwindle away even as you start to think about it. Our life, (whatever religion you align yourself with) is numbered and limited by it. Hence one must be very careful in dealing with time.
Spending time, is nothing but serious. Once gone, it cannot be dragged back. One does not at a later day, want to look back and say "Oh, if only I had spent that time better...". Hence I chose to live time, at it's best. Eke the maximum out of the day. And in that time do things that would guarantee my happiness now or in the future. I try hard not to dwell on the past, nor to dream about the future, spending the present is what is most important.
Think about it a bit... and invest in your time.
I hope this was not a waste of time for you. :-)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's a cause for celebration

Is it really..? In such a flamboyant manner?
I was wondering and thinking about this for the whole of today. Even now at 1245 am the sound of two separate 'bajjawwa', drift in through the window.
I'm not unpatriotic. No. I've done things for my country in my own small manner, which i'm mighty proud of. But i was really trying to understand why people have been driven overboard with joy at the killing of prabha n co. I mean it's good and just that they should be killed, they deserve more pain and suffering for the hurt they have caused sri lanka and it's people. But to celebrate by processions in the street, crackers that scare the shit of you, joyous singing far into the night..
Was it a kind of sadism, i wondered.
But then it occured to me that what we are celebrating here is not a killing but a liberation. A liberation of our minds from the overhanging cloud of fear. A cloud that sometimes we did not even know was existing, but nevertheless darkened the visage of every sri lankan without cast or creed. It was this relief from the oppression that we are/were celebrating.
Freedom from terrorism that has plagued us and has been almost able to crumple our beautiful country, that's the true cause for celebration. Peace was a rare commodity in sri lanka for a long long time.
I don't plan to go and join in the frolicking, but there's no denying that my heart has also taken a lift.