I was browsing through movies during a recent Zurich-Newark flight when a particular scene from a particular Bollywood movie caught my attention.
A woman is in the peak of her pregnancy, about to deliver any moment. No doctor could be there on time since one needs to cross a narrow bridge made of wooden planks and ropes to be able to get to the village. So the confident female protagonist in the movie decides to do the child delivery.
"Have you ever delivered a baby before?" someone had the presence of mind to ask.
"Yes," she said confidently. "I have delivered a baby goat before."
That is exactly when I switched movies.
But this ridiculous scene made me think of all the ridiculous ideas Bollywood has fed us about pregnancy. I have never been pregnant, and the only person I had closely seen being pregnant is my mom, when I was little. Naturally, I do not remember much. So back to Bollywood and the bullshit it feeds us about pregnancy.
1. Ever noticed how when the newly-wed starts to throw up, everyone is worried, except the old matriarch in the family, who has an all-knowing smile? She does not even have a degree in medicine. I used to throw up a lot when I had ulcer. No one had smiled at me knowingly then.
2. Ever noticed how the background music of Ravi Shankar's sitar (symbolizing love and happiness) changes to the sinister music of drums and trumpets when the woman throwing up is not married?
3. Ever noticed how a male doctor examines a woman lying unconscious in bed with his stethoscope, checks her pulse, and declares her pregnant? I thought you only declared someone dead that way. Whatever happened to pregnancy kits? How can a stethoscope and a quick pulse check can detect pregnancy?
4. A woman craving pickles is supposed to be pregnant. I have loved pickles all my life. What does that make me?
5. Ever noticed the theory where if you hang someone's life size picture on the wall (usually that of the husband), and make a pregnant woman look at that picture every day, the baby will be born looking like that man?
6. Does drinking milk infused with saffron really help Indian babies be born fair-skinned? Even long after the British left India, the desire to look like one of them didn't leave many of us. Or is this a pre-British fetish?
7. And this is my biggest mystery question. When a baby is to be delivered, why does the village matriarch always, always ask for a big vessel of boiling water, before shutting the door on everyone? What is the role of boiling water? I hope you don't throw it on someone to induce labor. Do you make tea with the boiling water for the mother? Coffee maybe? Give her a sponge bath? I can't think of any other creative uses of boiling water.