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“Bow-Ties Are Cool”: Why The 11th “Doctor Who” Will Remain My Favourite

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By Abhilasha Singh:

When I started my journey with “Doctor Who“, I remember having a certain fondness for Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor. It probably had something to do with the fact that he was my first Doctor ever, and a little more to do with the fact that his body language reminded me of someone very dear. He was energetic, mysterious, playful and a complete badass, but before I got to fall in love with him, he was gone. Poof. Regenerated.

My love for Eccleston kept me from being all that generous with my love for David (Tennant) for the first two episodes. How could I let some new actor replace my beloved, selfless Doctor who’d just begun to shed his armour and exhibit tenderness?

I tried hard to hold back but after a point, I couldn’t help but give in. 10 (Tenth Doctor) was emotional, reserved and childlike, all of which I found appealing, and with a face like that, who can really resist? My love for 10 was (sadly) short-lived, though. When Rose left, something else left with her. I realised that I didn’t like him as much as I thought I did, and part of why I liked him had something to do with her. Needless to say, the season with Martha was my least favourite. Firstly, because she came too soon after Rose and, secondly, because she fell in love with the Doctor. Rose’s Doctor.

Donna was a lovely companion, a welcome relief from Martha, and with their occasional squabbles, my entertainment was ensured. “The Fires of Pompeii” restored my faith in David Tennant’s Doctor, who had by then begun to turn a tad bit whiny and I’d almost begun to fangirl over him again. Too bad he regenerated soon after. Was I heartbroken? Yes. Was I devastated? No.

Before my tears dried up after Tennant’s regeneration, I caught myself smiling. Matt Smith was on screen and damn, was he a blast from the word “go”.

Oh, that man. Fantastic Doctor, he was. Fantastic enough to make me cry my eyes out and refuse to watch season eight for an entire week. A girl who’d previously had no trouble binge watching even seemingly awful TV shows was now too hurt to watch more than an episode of season eight at a time. I suppose my acceptance will come along with Clara’s, in time.

You must be wondering why I like Matt Smith so much, and it is a perfectly legit question for someone who probably hasn’t watched the series or is a Tennant fan. (Are there still any Eccleston fan’s out there? I wish there are, he was fantastic.) Anyways. Back to Matt Smith.

If anyone has seen a single video clip of his outside of “Doctor Who”, they can’t not agree with the fact that he is nothing short of perfect, even when he’s asking people to look at his muscles on a loop. He brings to the Doctor what nobody else, in my opinion, has and will forever be the only person to pull off a scene depicting internal conflict with a cyber-self as effortlessly as he did.

Not only was Matt a brilliant actor, but 11 a brilliant Doctor as well. The kind of Doctor I never wanted to let go of and the kind of Doctor I’d never want to see regenerate. He had a bounce to his step and a glitter in his eyes, and though his spirit was unbreakable, he was so beautifully vulnerable and sensitive. He was the same old Doctor with the same conflicts, pain and memories, but was so amazingly fresh at the same time. He was so very old, but still so young and fascinated with the universe and all it had to offer. Whenever he looked at anything new, a planet, a creature or a species, he looked at it with awe and delight, never judgement. He made everything and everyone he met feel special and marvellous, never letting them for a single moment believe that they were unimportant. In a world as cynical and wounded as ours, we need more people like the 11th Doctor. To restore our faith in human life and our inherent goodness, and make us believe in something greater than ourselves.

The 11th incarnation of that child of Gallifrey gave me hope and something to believe in while providing answers to a question nobody wants to ask or answer as he left. He made me feel like I belonged and he made me feel important and beautiful in a way that is very different from the way those sentiments are conventionally interpreted. He gave me something to identify with and made me think. Anyone who knows me knows how much I appreciate that last bit. (And he also claimed to be a Sagittarius, so double win.)

If you still aren’t convinced that this man is amazing and worth giving a damn about, read his last words and you will be. On this post, those are to be mine too.

“..Times change, and so must I… we all change. When you think about it, we are all different people, all through our lives and that’s okay, that’s good! You’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

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Banner image shared on Facebook by Giffoni Film Festival.
Thumbnail image shared on Facebook by Doctor Who.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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