Month of Dhanur

Approximately, the days between December 15 to January 15 is called the month of Marghazi in Tamil. The Sanskrit name is Dhanur Masa. It has a special significance in my tradition.

We believe that during this month, the Devas, who reside in another world descend to our world (“Loka”) and roam during early dawn. It is considered auspicious to celebrate their arrival everyday by performing special Puja (‘arAdhanam”) at that time.

In Tamil culture, we revere and celebrate Andal. She composed a master piece called Tirupavai. It has 30 stanzas (“pasurams”) and is recited in full during the Puja. Tirupavai is a celebration of Lord Krishna and is a beautiful imagination of Andal and her friends waking up Lord Krishna from his sleep and singing his praises.

So, off we wake up at around 4:30 AM, get ready and do the arAdhanam. We offer a mixture of cooked rice and moong dal with a robust dollop of ghee and a sprinkling of pepper and cumin and salt as the food to the Lord and the assembled devas. It’s easy and quick to make at that early hour. People also gather in temples at that early hour, if they are unable to do arAdhanam in their own home.

On the 28th day, we make a sweet rice dish (“Sakkara Pongal”). Again, robust amount of ghee is added and Andal asks us to imagine ghee floating down our hands as we consume the Pongal. Sweet indeed! She also remarks that getting together to enjoy such occasions is the best thing to do.

So, if you come across some bleary eyed South Indians in the month of December, cut them some slack as they may have woken up earlier than usual.

Business Development Entertaintment

Streaming Balkanization

2020 has heralded a further maturing and fragmentation of streaming content options. The era of TV content being delivered via a dedicated device such as a coax cable or a satellite dish is truly over. Everything is delivered your regular internet connection. It’s a tribute to the inventors of the IP protocol stack to make this possible.

Finally, Netflix is getting attacked from multiple directions. It’s both a exciting as well as a dizzying time for consumers. They have to figure out the right choice for themselves and in a few short months, a new one comes along. Let’s list the various choices today. We list the ad free offerings and non Live TV options only.

ProviderCost /monthContent
Netflix$9-$19 based on number of screens per account Independent. Features content from most studios and spends $ to create original content
Amazon PrimeCost included in Prime membership of $12/month. For simplicity let’s attribute $9 as Prime VideoPart of Amazon. Features content from most studios and spends $ to original content. Also allows content from HBO to be streamed by adding the channel for $15/month. Not sure if all content from HBO Max will be available in this platform
Hulu $12 (the ad free version)Part of Disney now.
Disney+$7Content from Disney Studios only
ESPN+$13Part of Disney. Sports programming only
HBO Max$15Part of AT&T now. HBO is the original content producer
Peacock$10Offering from NBC Universal. Only content from NBC Universal studios
Apple TV+$5Part of Apple. Requires a separate hardware device that connects to your TV. The rest don’t require it.
Streaming Options compared

Except Netflix, the other streaming platforms are part of a bigger organization. Netflix and Amazon Prime have a global reach featuring original language content from various countries.

Cable TV invented the model of offering packages of channels. Streaming has disrupted that and forced the customer to go to various destinations to piece together the content for themselves. In addition, one has to fire up and interact with different interfaces and it’s quirks.

Based on the pricing today. it costs a family about $100/month if they want to satisfy demands of all the viewers in their household.

Can we expect consolidation in this space? It doesn’t seem likely in the next few years given the entrenched positions of the players at the moment.

My prediction is that HBO Max gets spun off from AT&T and gets acquired by Netflix.

Overall, I think it will be a big battle between Disney and Netflix.

Health Personal

Cold Showers

This winter, some people in Great Britain have bemoaned the lack of access to open water to take a cold swim. The lack of access is naturally due to COVID related closures. This lady remarked on the podcast “It was our last defense against a sheltered life and that has been snatched away as well.” Hopefully, she gets it back in a few months.

That made me wonder about the unusual people that regularly take cold showers or cold swims in the span of winter. Somehow, I happened to read about endurance activities a few days later and cold showers was in the top 10. The article suggested to gradually lean into cold water showering in winter and promised that the outcome would be refreshing and generally improve one’s health.

In yet another signal, a few days later, my wife casually mentioned an online workshop acquaintance from Sweden that took ice cold baths and showers. The Swede declared it to be super healthy. With three signs, it was time to dip one’s toes in.

It is now Week 3 for me. Today, the temperature handle started at 80% cold setting and stayed at that setting during the entire shower. I have survived to write about it. For Week 2, it started at the 50% setting and moved to 80% only for the last half of shower time. By Week 5, I hope to start and stop at the 100% cold setting that my home plumbing will allow.

My wife is a warrior though. She has been at 100% cold setting since end of Week 1. It must come from her father who has been doing this daily since he was 16.

Well, our water consumption and gas consumption are down. Our mirror is no longer annoyed.

And yes, it is indeed refreshing and makes running outside in winter a lot more comfortable.

Shower away!