Learning Through Fiction: Fiji in “Kalyana” [+Infographic]

learn through fictionLast year I made an infographic for Black Dove, White Raven, and although it hardly interested as many readers as I had hoped, it was something I immensely enjoyed doing. So I am thrilled to share a new infographic, this time about Fiji and the novel I read, Kalyana by Rajni Mala Khelawan.

Spanning the early 1960s to more or less the present day, Kalyana tells the story of a young Indo-Fijian girl – her parents’ only daughter, and just a little spoiled. Continue reading “Learning Through Fiction: Fiji in “Kalyana” [+Infographic]”

Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw [Book Review]

25893705Writing an “issue book” for young adults can be dangerous. Writing an issue book that incorporates diversity and a non-Western setting can be disastrous. It can be shallow. It can be whitewashed. It can be a pity-party. It can be subtly racist. Issue books are hard to write because we all have unwitting biases, and they can reveal themselves in our writing, despite our very best intentions.

Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw is nothing like that.

Besides being teenage girls in Mumbai, Noor and Grace seemingly have nothing in common. Noor (which by the way is one of my favorite names!) is the eldest child of a prostitute. She was raised in the red-light district of Kamathipura. Education is her refuge, but she lives in constant fear of following the fate of her mother. Continue reading “Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw [Book Review]”

What If Everything You Knew About Breastfeeding Was Wrong?

24612267How does one react to seeing a book cover that claims breast feeding is “big business and bad policy”?

If you’re me, you request a review copy of that book, fully intending to expose how wrong it is.

As a medical student, one of the important things I was taught again and again is this: BREAST IS BEST. We were given a nearly 100-page document to study about infant feeding during second year. We were expected to know the constituents of human milk and be able to compare it to cow’s milk and formula. We had to memorise tables of the various formulas on offer and their indications. In fourth year, an entire oral OSCE station was dedicated to breastfeeding.

Breast was best and formula-feeding was undesirable, and it all made perfect sense to me; and of course I never read up the literature because our professors had surely done that FOR us. Continue reading “What If Everything You Knew About Breastfeeding Was Wrong?”

Dear Graduates: You Should Be Supporting #FeesMustFall

Dear Graduates of South Africa

Perhaps, like me, you shook your head when you first saw the hashtag #FeesMustFall. You empathised with the expense of tertiary education, but you had lives to save or exams to mark or bridges to build and you thought, “Why do young people in this country want to make everything FALL?”

Continue reading “Dear Graduates: You Should Be Supporting #FeesMustFall”

Weekly Whine: Small Luxuries

In Afrikaans* there is a saying, “It’s the small foxes that ruin the vineyard,” referring to the tendency of many tiny problems to cause the biggest drama.

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Never before have I understood it so clearly as now that I am in the thick of South African public healthcare. We work daily in a hospital that is overcrowded and understaffed, with too many things on the CEO’s plate and too little theatre time for our patients. Continue reading “Weekly Whine: Small Luxuries”

For Heritage Day: What Traveling Teaches Me About Being African

When you’re an African abroad, you learn quickly to spot fellow Africans. You learn that it is an instinct rather than recognition of attributes, because you have certainly never been tempted to greet a group of African-Americans in Swahili.

You will notice each other: no matter the hue of your skin or the lilt of your accent. Perhaps it is a longing in our eyes, or the curve of our spines where they take root in our soil. Africans traveling gravitate toward Africans. Our souls call out to one another, despite our warring ancestors. Continue reading “For Heritage Day: What Traveling Teaches Me About Being African”

Go Set A Watchman Read in a Parallel Universe

* A review of Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, as imagined in a world where To Kill A Mockingbird never existed; and therefore GSaW did not become an instant bestseller based purely upon its history. Disclaimer: there may be some spoilers if you have not read any of the recent hubbub about GSaW. Also, if you mistake my creative license as reality then I’m not even going to respond.

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Continue reading “Go Set A Watchman Read in a Parallel Universe”

Another Disability Grant Request

“Uyagoduka namhlanje!” I say with the biggest smile. You can go home today! It’s one of my favourite things to tell patients. Sometimes I think it’s the only time they ever like me.

And she does smile. The physiotherapist discharged her day one post-op and she wanted to go home so badly, but I felt day one was a bit soon. What can I say: I’m an intern, I’m too careful.

Then she asks, “So what thing did you put in my leg?”

She injured herself playing contact sports and sustained a mean distal femur fracture. I tell her the basics: we put some hardware in her leg to keep the bone together.

And her neighbour, a middle-aged woman, says, “So that means she can get a disability grant.”

Copyright Faheema Patel 2010, “Human Inside” | Click image for link.

NO. Continue reading “Another Disability Grant Request”

Top Ten Diverse Books

This is going to be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday! Right in line with the We Need Diverse Books campaign, here is a list of my favourite books that celebrate diversity (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.).

It’s kind of sad how few books are truly diverse. When I was going through my books, I noticed that although a lot of books had diverse characters, many of them were fairly flat and seemed to be little more than tokens. I mean, it’s kind of like movies having the token female scientist and then thinking they’re sorted for diversity. Uhm, no. Not that this is at all a groundbreaking realisation, so moving on to the books: Continue reading “Top Ten Diverse Books”