Articles

Books

  • Queer: A Graphic History – A graphic novel on queer activism, theory, and their history. There is a lot of information densely packed in a few pages, but it’s all been very revelatory for me, and it’s one of those books with the potential to change the way you think. I have been highly recommending it to everyone I know. Of course, the book has valid critiques against it too, but it serves as a good introduction to a lot of complex ideas.

Podcasts

  • Long Distance (Parts One and Two) [Reply All] – When was the last time you listened to a podcast that was nearly a thriller? These two Reply All episodes were so thrilling that I found myself going through the nearly 100 minutes in bits and pieces whenever I could find time during the day. When a telephone scammer calls the podcast host Alex Goldman, the team chases the scammers down. All the way to New Delhi.

99% Invisible became my favorite Podcast in January. Here are some of the episodes that stood out:

  • Half Measures [99% Invisible] – A history of why the metric system just doesn’t catch on in the US. Like with most things, the answer is complicated and contains a dose of “freedom” à la America.

  • The Athletic Brassiere [99% Invisible] – The ubiquitous sports bra wasn’t always as ubiquitous. It’s a fairly recent invention that changed the way women (and people with breasts) exercise.

  • Repackaging the Pill [99% Invisible] – The birth control pill was the first “lifestyle pill”, one that was prescribed to adults not suffering from any particular condition. It was also one that patients demanded from doctors, as opposed to doctors prescribing based on their judgment. Among all this, its packaging has evolved and influenced how other drugs are sold and advertised currently in America.

Movies and TV Shows

  • A Death in the Gunj – It was a matter of chance that I decided to watch this movie on my flight from Mumbai to San Francisco. I’m glad I did, because it was a very captivating story about a family vacation focusing on themes of isolation, depression, grief, harassment, and much more, all laid out very eloquently. What’s more, at the end I learned that this was a directorial debut for Konkona Sen Sharma, whom I really admire.

  • Dear Dad – A dad comes out as gay to his son during a roadtrip with the son. The topic has been handled with more sensitivity than most portrayals of homosexuality in Hindi movies, even if it’s not quite perfect. The movie also briefly and subtly touches upon ideas of masculinity. It was good to see Arvind Swamy after a long time (he plays the dad).

  • The Post – A thoroughly enjoyable dramatization of events during Nixon’s presidency, featuring a war between the press and the government, told in the context of the the history of the Washington Post becoming a public company.

  • Moonlight – A refreshing take on the life of a young African American gay man. Refreshing because you don’t have big budget mainstream movies with this kind of representation on a regular basis. It also won the Academy Award for best picture last year.

Travel

  • India – While I missed my goal of traveling to a new country in 2017, I somewhat made up for it by going to new places in India. In particular, I went to Bikaner (for a wedding) which was my first time visiting western Rajasthan. I also visited Tirupati in southern Andhra Pradesh, again my first time in that part of the country.

Miscellaneous

  • The US medical system is still haunted by slavery – This video is mindblowing. It focuses mostly on gynecology and related areas of medicine. It’s a short video (under 9 minutes) and talks about the excruciating surgeries and experiments inflicted upon enslaved (black) women by several doctors in the Antebellum South, among other things. While this may not be surprising because the history of medicine is built on many such stories, it is still worth analyzing said history because of the many invisible ways in which it shapes our current biases and understanding. This video touches upon a little bit of that as well.
- nRT