Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Legend of Prometheus : An Analysis.

NB: Spoiler Alert. Proceed with Caution. 

Who made us ? The question itself is too big to pack into the body of the movie, yet Prometheus answers it fairly definitively if you are looking hard enough.

The theme of Prometheus matches very well with the ancient mythology of Nummos as believed by the Dogon tribe in West Africa. According to these people, who originally migrated from Egypt, the starting point of our creation is from a small star that revolves around the brightest star visible to human eye, Sirius, located almost 8.6 light years away from Earth. They believe that the elements of our creation are present in that small yet heavy star, which was officially discovered by our astronomers in 1862 by the name Sirius B. Studies on this African tribe were documented in a book by two French anthropologists, ‘‘Conversations with Ogotemmeli’’ published in 1947. Ogotemelli was the tribe’s oral historian, so was his father. In his words, we were created by beings who engineered our DNA. Also, our DNA was manipulated three times due to failed experiments and interestingly three versions of humans were designed. Ancient mythologies mentions the existence of these alien races called Nummos and another race of aliens called Annunaki, in Egypt approximately 5000 years ago. This could probably justify Ridley Scott’s opinion regarding the planet shown in the opening scene. He suggests it could be a planet anywhere and the Engineer is just a gardener in space.

Though the movie opens with an Engineer seeding life in a primordial planet dismissing the concepts mentioned in the book of genesis, the movie still connects strangely but not necessarily with some verses in the Bible. Let us take into account the moon in the movie LV223, where the ship Prometheus lands, as well as the planet LV426, mentioned in the 1979 Ridley Scott movie ‘‘Alien’’. Considering the religious and philosophical views of characters like Elizabeth Shaw in the movie, the planet LV223 might be in reference to a verse in the third book of Bible. Leviticus 22:3 states ‘‘For the generations to come, if any of your descendants is ceremonially unclean and yet comes near the sacred offerings that the Israelites consecrate to the LORD, that person must be cut off from my presence. I am the LORD.’’ This could very well refer to the creation of humans and how they became unclean. Interestingly the planet LV426 might be in reference to Leviticus 4:26 which state ‘‘He shall burn all the fat on the altar as he burned the fat of the fellowship offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for the man's sin, and he will be forgiven.’’ What if this actually answers the question which Prometheus leaves behind in the end. The answer to why Engineers setting the destruction of unclean humans could be some kind of sacrifice for forgiveness. But there is a lot of guess work involved like the missing link between LV223 in Prometheus and LV426 in Alien.

Ridley Scott may or may not have come across this passage somewhere in the development of the movie. There is one more strange connection with the Bible which might not make any sense with the storyline. Elizabeth Shaw shares some common threads with the Elizabeth in Bible. Both of them are incapable of having babies and god works out the magic. The movie connects more religiously in matters of faith as Elizabeth Shaw being the only true believer on board and hence become the only survivor in the entire movie. This could be that rare movie which challenges its viewers in matters of science, religious philosophies and spirituality at an intellectual level.

Speaking of creation, there is an interesting conversation in the movie between Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and David (Michael Fassbender/Android) regarding the purpose of creating humans.

David: Why do you think your people made me ?
Charlie: We made you because we could.
David: Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator ?

It could even be possible that the engineers created humans simply because they could and not for any profound reason.

There are still numerous questions in my mind such as, why would someone leave cave paintings on Earth, giving evidence of their location, if they are actually planning to destroy us ? Or has something happened with Engineers decision making in between these long thousands of years ? Or could it be not the Engineers who left the location maps at Earth ? Why should the Engineers sacrifice themselves for the creation of life, or was it an accidental mutation rather than a purposefully designed creation of life ? Was the opening scene, a punishment by the God Zeus since he was angry at Prometheus for creating and favoring humans ?

Is Jesus Christ, conceived by the holy spirit in virgin Mary, an Engineer sent by God ??? This is one of my favorites as this opens an entirely new equation for the movie with Christian beliefs. And it could even support the storyline of this mysterious movie, as Jesus, one of the engineers, was crucified by humans, eventually prompting the Gods to destroy humanity.

Prometheus, in a nutshell asks some huge questions on life, influence of aliens in our life, mysteries regarding where we come from as a species and what happens when we die. It all seems to be too much of an education or rather some kind of an intellectual awakening from a movie, thanks to Damon Lindelof, the writer and Ridley Scott, the Director.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Pride of Malayalee; Avial.

'' Across hills and vales, the horizon is but only a mirage begging to make sense '' - Avial (Ettam Pattu)

It all started during one of those summer holidays, thanks to the Rosebowl channel. Rosebowl stood out in featuring music in a way that anyone would slip and fall in love with the world of musical notes. And my remote used to end up right there with that manual overdrive instead of wasting time finding random happiness with the idiot box. The hybrid alternative rock infused with the spicy pinch of Malayalam folk did the trick. They delivered it with style. And i became an immediate hardcore Avial fan. The classic western bass strings of Rex Vijayan blended well with raw vocals of Tony John and Anand Raj Benjamin Paul. Sadly i miss the touch-wood jaguar style Anand Raj Benjamin Paul signature vocals of the good old Avial.

The debut album, with those legendary eight tracks never fails to give me goosebumps. Avial framed a new identity for south Indian rock culture by their intelligent integration of acoustic guitar, bass bases, rhythmic instrumental jamming tied with rich vocals and passionate meaningful malayalam lyrics. The state of Kerala, which attracted the world with its spices trade and cultural heritage has once again invented a potential art form, which we proudly call, '' The Alternative Malayalam Rock Band ''. 

To me, Avial is like the Linkin Park of Indian Rock music. The right blend of southern masala dosa with the western coke, the satisfaction you feel while quenching your thirst with the cool Sambaaram on a hot summer day in Kerala just before the monsoon season. Most of their tracks brings me that nostalgic fresh fragrance of soil when the first drops of monsoon rain hits the earth. Moving on to the commercial industry of movies, the band stood out and reached more crowd with the ''Aanakallan'' track for the film ''Salt and Pepper''. It was their prime time as a band. The unique trend setting T-shirts with malayalam one liners and the top notch cinematography of the song made the music lovers crave for more. Followed by Chappa Kurish, 22 Female Kottayam and Second Show, the band was shining. The Times of India South cover disappointed me a bit with the Suprabhathakali, though it was a different approach.

The trendsetting media works by Papaya and Malfunction for Avial is definitely noteworthy. Avial has delivered something unique that i could match them right next with the footsteps of A R Rahman and Linkin Park, as far as my music cravings are concerned. No wonder, the guys walked in style bagging six awards at the Jack Daniels Annual Rock Awards 08-09, for Song of the Year, Album of the year and Band of the year in both popular choice and critics categories. Avial was the only band to be selected from India, to represent the country in the Sakifo (Reunion) World Music Festival, held at Mauritius, that brought 40 rock bands from across the world. The band had their first International collaboration with an Italian band called ''A67'' featuring a track called '' Chi me sape'' in 2008. Another one is with a Singapore based singer Naomi Stafford. Avial did a Malayalam Cantonese (Chinese) rock song with Naomi for the world peace called ''Shie Jie Pattu''. Unfortunately, i haven't got a chance to have a glimpse of this song. However ''Chi me sape'' is legendary and is shockingly underrated. 

Following is the Album Credits for their Debut Album with the same title, Avial.

1. Nada Nada 
     Composed by John P Varkey, 
     Written by Engandiyur Chandrashekaran, 
     Arranged by Avial.

2. Chekele 

    Original folk song, 
    Arranged by Avial. 

3. Njan Aara 

    Composed & Arranged by John P Varkey & Avial, 
    Written by P. B. Girish. 

4. Arikuruka 

   Original folk song, 
   Lyrics improvised by Engandiyur Chandrashekaran, 
   Arranged by John P Varkey & Avial.

5. Aranda 

    Written by P. B. Girish, 
    Composed by Riyaz Mohammed, 
     Arranged by Avial.

6. Karukara 

    Written & Composed by Kavalam Narayana Panicker, 
    Arranged by Avial.

    Guest Artist - Aparnashree on Vocals.  

7. Aadu Pambe 

    Written by Sudhi Velamanoor, 
    Composed & Arranged by Avial.

8. Ettam Pattu 

    Written by Sudhi Velamanoor, 
    Composed & Arranged by Avial.

The track ''Chi me sapo'' happened when the popular Italian band ''A67'' saw Avial's songs in the social networking site, MySpace. Impressed with their performance, the Italian rock band approached them to be part of their forthcoming album titled ''Suburb''.  ''Chi me sapo'' means Who Knows We Know. Checkout the Official Video below.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Back Water Mystery.

It has been in mind for so long, to take a day off and set out to the lavish greenery of Alappuzha to rejuvenate my soul. The place where the essence of Malayalam could be sensed with all its purity. The fertile smell of land, when the monsoon showers hit the surface. The sip of a hot black tea from a local tea shop near the river side, with two crispy vadas. Kerala back waters should definitely be on my camera; else I would be missing out the joy of exploring the natural scenic beauty of my native land. And to make the experience more like a self discovery and earthy, I decided to opt out the hangout concept of travelling to the spot with my friends or cousins. After all, sometimes it’s best to follow our instincts blindly. That’s from where our wisdom evolves in its true form. We should consider the right to chose or the freedom we are given to choose our own path as a sacred privilege. The door of possibilities reroutes itself like in a GPS as we choose a new path in life.

Long before the sun could stretch out its morning shades, I got out from the comfort of my warm cozy bed. Through the misty freshness of that morning, I walked past my local church which was preparing for the early holy mass. Avoiding the comfort of driving with the basses and trebles of music was a good decision. Boarded an ordinary KSRTC bus, heading to the town of Alappuzha. I often wondered why the KSRTC buses have different facial expressions. When I was a child, I used to think of them as the different moods of these buses. Some of them seems happy, some childish, others could even have an angry face. While the private buses seemed to have some trendy looks and new hair styles, which could be the reason why some KSRTC buses looks grumpy.

I missed the green and yellow tickets, we used to have before. Technology is a killer. It murdered our past, making some stuffs the things of past. This wasn’t an old KSRTC but a renovated one I guess. The hand rails are plastered; I always hated the naked steel rails and its rusty smell. The rush of school children in uniforms with heavy bags took me back to memories of school days. Glad am done with it. Speaking of school, I love the smell of biscuits and milk in water bottles, the smell of fresh text books and new uniforms. Whenever I buy a new book, I open it randomly and have a long inhalation. May be that could help me absorb some of the hidden knowledge.

Having taken a private transit bus to Kumarakom, popularly known as the head quarters of back water packages; hired an auto and headed down the rural inroads to explore the virgin back waters. Something was bothering me, the calling of fresh Naadan food. As we passed by a hotel with its Naadan menu kept on the road side, I could sense the title song of Salt and Pepper movie calling me to spoil myself right now.

        ‘‘ Thana thinna thaana thinna thaana thinna thinthinno.
                       Thana thinna thaana thinna thaana thinna thinthinno.’’

Of course, I was on the table the next moment lost in the menu. Puttum Beefum, I ordered. Porotta, is my favorite but I got seduced by the unique Puttu available here with its Thenga Peera and the spicy beef with Thenga Kothu. Sipped the local tea listening to the tunes of radio music and the news paper conversation of the localites. Before heading to the Kadathu Vanchi opting out the house boats, I decided to come back here to have the Ucha Oonu with the delicious Special Fish Curry.

The Vanchikaran was having a local Beedi under the shades of the slanting coconut tree. I kind of worry sometimes while playing around or passing by a coconut tree. Isn’t there a risk of the coconuts falling down ? It’s damn scary. An old man in his 70’s and two sisters boarded the Kadathu Vanchi. Having seen the sisters I thought, there could be a local church somewhere on the other side. ‘‘ Ok, let’s go’’, said the Vanchikaran in an indifferent way. I grabbed my camera and the hat. It could be sunny out there. Should have taken some Pazhampori or Parippuvada as parcel. Never mind. We sailed through the shades of local trees and the view of traditional houses by the river side. Paradise was right there and I was sailing through it. This is definitely ‘‘Gods Own Country’’. Took some great shots and drowned myself in the pleasure of sailing wild back waters. We were slowly heading to the big wide opening of the Kayal. A flock of birds, probably the Kokku, flew across the sky. The view was heavenly. And I didn’t miss to freeze that frame in multiple shots.

We had a small chit chat on the way with topics ranging from local Chemmeen Chammandhi to Mullaperiyar. The Vanchikaran was speaking lots of crap, could probably be some words of wisdom. In fact we are inclined to believe the words of those whom we don’t know, as they haven’t deceived us. The clouds were getting darker. Mullaperiyar issue, in my view is not a stupid water dispute. It’s more than a life and death situation. The heat of the issue was at its peak then. And there was much tension and protests between the people of both states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Unless the Mullaperiyar dam is rebuilt, three districts of my state will be wiped away along with the lives of 3 million people. I defended the issue strongly in our debate of Mullaperiyar issue in the Kadathu Vanchi. I always believed that peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice. I wondered if the Vanchikaran was from the other state. The old guy was showing some sign languages. Is he practicing some kind of Kathakali moves ? But I sensed something wrong when I saw the strange faces shown by the sisters. In the next moment, the Vanchikaran challenged me and jumped into the river. What the ?

It started raining. Thunders fighting in the sky. And am struck with some strangers in a boat lost in the middle of monsoon showers. I agree that going through challenges and failures is a solid test to develop more faith in God. But how could this situation be explained ? The monsoon showers got much stronger and I could really feel my face getting wet and colder. Somewhere from the corners of the dark clouds in the sky I could hear a whispering voice. It was my mom. Mom, you saved me from a big ship wreck. I was inside the Titanic. I tailored my dreams to make it sound more appealing. Any way I was glad that I didn’t have to spend much time in that Kadathu Vanchi, wandering aimlessly through the wide river and getting wet in the heavy monsoon rain.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Road to Sainthood : Monsignor Lawrence Puliyanath.

I consider this brief article as a thanksgiving for all the favors received and as a prayer for the canonization of Monsignor Lawrence Puliyanath, who lived his saintly life in my hometown. A monsignor who illuminated thousands of lives with the message of love, a genuine Christian hero, a man of action who obeyed god, by having a mental state of being incredibly optimistic against overwhelming odds. Monsignor Lawrence Puliyanath was declared as the ‘‘Servant of God’’ on February 4th, 2011 completing the first step in the process of canonization.

His mortal remains are venerated in the St. Lawrence Church at Edakochi, where faithful from places throughout the state visit, in order to give thanks, for the favors received through his intercession. I consider myself blessed for being in the church locality, where a priest, who lived as one among the ordinary people, glorified the name of god. His life was dedicated to fill this world with love and to make people love one another. His life is a message for each of us to understand each other and to be generous in our lives irrespective of religion, cast and creed.

The over flowing devotees to the pilgrim centre at Kochi is a reflection of his exceptional holiness. Thousands of devotees consider him as a father figure who guides and helps them throughout the hard journey called life. Most of the familiar faces in my hometown are living testimonials who still remember how; he personally touched the lives of people through selfless service and love for the community.

Monsignor Lawrence was born on 8th August 1898 in Kochi, to the blessed couple Maria and Peter, of the Puliyanath family. He was fortunate enough to have a good school education and eventually attained a doctorate degree in both Theology and Philosophy from a Seminary in SriLanka. He was ordained priest on 1926 and started off his apostolic mission for the poor, serving the society at large. During his 33 years of church service, he served as a professor of Philosophy in Alappuzha Seminary and later as a Forane Vicar in the parish of St. Lawrence Church, Edakochi. He was conferred the title ‘‘Domestic Prelete’’ by His Holiness Pious the XII-th in 1951. His simple life with no special attachments to material comforts in the midst of glory makes him an ideal religious teacher. His humbleness was revealed when he declined the promotional title offered from Rome, to be the first local bishop in the Diocese of Kochi. He was sick during his late days, yet was always concerned about the needs and lives of the people. The divine soul of Monsignor Lawrence left to heaven on 20th February, 1961.

Like the two sides of a coin, with the touch of god, come miracles and blessings as well as sufferings and the cross. Dear lord, as Christian followers, we know that our lives would be subjected to testing and temptations throughout our life, to strengthen our faith. Monsignor Lawrence Puliyanath is our local guardian, who guides us through this worldly life, to follow your way of light. We consider this stage of canonization as the phase of our struggling and we hope our prayers, along with the ever glowing candle lights, in front his sacred tomb, would one day open the gates of heaven and bring out the shower of miracles and blessings by declaring his sainthood.

To Visit the Official Site of Monsignor Lawrence Puliyanath. Click here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Alcohol Use and the Risk of Developing Alzheimer's Disease.

Being a cognitive disorder involving the degeneration of brain, progressive loss of memory and lowered life expectancy, Alzheimer’s disease resembles in strange ways to the after effects of alcohol consumption. Obviously both of them serve as a burden to the health, society and economic stability of any nation. Studies on alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking have shown cognitive impairment which is parallel to the usual symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Irrespective of nutritional deficits, progressive psychological decline is observed in chronic alcoholics. Hypothalamus, Cerebellum and the frontal superior cortex are the most predominantly affected areas by the toxic effects of alcohol. In addition they cause significant structural changes in myelin which could be reversible during abstinence.

Alcohol consumption could be attributed as one of the risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease, as both of them share biological complications, related with brain chemistry and associated disorders. The main challenge while researching on the impact of alcohol usage on developing Alzheimer’s disease is in diagnosing and distinguishing alcoholic dementia from Alzheimer’s disease.

Heavy alcohol drinking causes both immediate and long term detrimental effects on brain such as accelerating brain shrinkage, eventually leading to neurodegenerative changes and cognitive decline. Comparative investigations by Jensen & Pakkenberg (1993), on subjects with cerebral atrophy caused by aging and alcohol consumption have revealed that, alcohol induced damages are mostly reversible, as it doesn’t cause any change in the number of nerve cells, although considerable death of brain cells, which supports the neurons is observed. Since the brain cells could be regenerated during the process of abstinence, cognitive performance could be improved. While research by Krill & Halliday (1999), have revealed loss of cholinergic neurons that are associated with the chemical messenger of our brain, the neurotransmitter acetyl choline. As any defects in the cholinergic system such as reduction in acetyl choline or reduced protein receptors is well established with the Alzheimer’s disease, chronic alcohol usage could definitely be linked as a cause for Alzheimer’s disease. Shockingly, studies by Arendt (1993) have shown partial reversal of these damages on cholinergic systems upon stimulation by compounds such as nicotine during tobacco smoking, which discloses the controversial hypothesis of decreased association of Alzheimer’s disease with drinkers who smoke.

Speaking of alcohol induced nutritional deficiency; the most frequent one is the vitamin B1 deficiency, which eventually induces Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This syndrome involves isolated or associated symptoms such as mental confusion, abnormal ocular movement and gait ataxia. If left undiagnosed, the patients could either evolve into a serious condition called the Korsakoff’s syndrome or even death. Clinical features and findings on structural neuroimaging of Korsakoff’s syndrome involve episodic memory deficit, variable compromise in semantic memory, nystagmus, cortical atrophy, reduced volume of thalamus and mammillary bodies. Marchiafava-Bignami is a rare disease generally diagnosed in chronic alcoholics with symptoms involving dementia, muscular hypertonia, epileptic episodes, dysphagia etc. This disease has a high lethality rate with most of the patients evolving into a comatose state. Its neuroimaging findings have revealed prominent atrophy of corpus collosum, with varying degrees of necrosis and cystic fibrosis. Alcoholic dementia is yet not uniformly diagnosed during epidemiological studies making the discriminations between alcoholic dementia and Alzheimer’s disease more problematic.

Further clarity is needed to prove the association of alcohol with Alzheimer’s disease. Longitudinal researches are needed which avoids methodological limitations such as the confirmation of investigations on subjects by studying the brain after death. Association of factors ranging from genetic, vascular and even gender should be extensively and thoroughly investigated to clarify the association of alcohol with Alzheimer’s disease.


Arendt, T. (1993). The cholinergic deafferentation of the cerebral cortex induced by chronic consumption of alcohol: Reversal by cholinergic drugs and trans-plantation. In: Hunt, W.A., and Nixon, S.J., eds. Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 431–460.

Bottino C.M.C., Padua, A.C., Smid, J., Fegyveres, R.A., Novaretti, T., Bahia V.S. (2011).  Differential diagnosis between dementia and psychiatric disorders. Dement Neuropsychol. 5(4):288-296.

Jensen, G.B., & Pakkenberg, B. (1993). Do alcoholics drink their neurons away? The Lancet. 342:1201– 1204.

Krill, J.J. & Halliday, G.M. (1999). Brain shrinkage in alcoholics: A decade on and what have we learned? Progress in Neurobiology 58:381–387.

Tyas, S.L. (2001). Alcohol use and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alcohol Research & Health. Vol: 25, No: 4.

(Review of the original article by Suzanne L. Tyas. Original publication is available from National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. )