My contribution to Usenet News/Noise.

These days I lead a grihasta life of refinement planning, and serving Soumya. But way back when, I used to have more spare time using which I used to be a regular poster on various usenet newsgroups -- mainly the Soc.culture.indian bulletin board. The best outcome of this experience, apart from the self-aggrandizing joy of seeing your writings contributing their bit to the usenet noise, was the many good friends I made over the net.

Net friendships are quite interesting. I have met many a net.friend in person--being at that time a resident of bay area, a veritiable cross roads of expatriate Indian crowd, and the initial experience was always unsettling in a pleasant way. Here would be this person, whose stands on all sorts of issues like civil liberties, feminism etc., I know quite well, but of whose more mundane interests, such as the culinary variety, I had no idea. The exact opposite of the friendships forged in the normal ways.

A problem with net.writing is that so much of it is so context-dependent that it does not exactly age well. Of the many thousands of lines I wrote in those days, (google news archive sez my name appeared in some 530 postings!) here are a few that may have aged reasonably gracefully (or so I hope at any rate).

My pet-topic used to be equality of sexes, particularly in the indian context. I once started a discussion on the practice of arranged marriages among expatriate indians with an article on 3-way ticket marriages. When the discussion seemed to polarize into the "arranged vs. love marriage" camps, I tried to talk about the importance of seeing the degress of gray in an article on the pitfalls of back and white perceptions. This thread continued without too much degeneration for a long time, and there were excellent posts by many, whether they agreed with me or not. Here are the complete logs of this particular thread.

I have always been surprised at the implicit in-built tolerance we all seem to have for sexist practices. Here is a sarcastic article in response to a seemingly innoccuous question on marrying in the old country. Here is a more reasoned rationalization of that post under the presumptuous title albert rao ko gussa kyon aathaa hai. This thread continued for a long time, and many of my friends felt that my sarcastic reply to the original poster was way too much of a sledge-hammer approach on the poor bloke. At that time, I disagreed. I am not so sure now. I *may* have used that posting as a vehicle to criticize a wide-spread practice, without completely ensuring that the posting in question completely endorses that practice. Here are extended logs of this thread. Here is another one criticiszing the Indian tendency to over-estimate the status of women in India by equating freedom with protection.

My professional and personal interests meshed for once when I felt obligated to respond to the "affirmative-action-bash-bash-bash" thread bemoaning the putative dilution of Computer science due to too many women faculty.

I always strongly felt that reform-seeking doesn't have to lead to a loss of other finer human abilities. Here is an article on atheism and aesthetic appreciation, and another on my favorite classical vocalist M.S. Subbulakshmi. Here is an article trying to separate political correctness and equality. Finally, here is a supposedly humorous piece on Subhas Chandrabose conspiracy.

Talking about reform and "doing reform" are two entirely different things and often we completely under-estimate the complexity of reform. The movie, Rao Saheb, based on a marathi play, brings this into clear focus. Here is a very personal review of that movie. It is personal because I still don't know how much of Rao Saheb resides in me.

Although most of my writings have been in English, my own mother-tongue is telugu. Here is an essay on my school days that I once wrote in telugu . I had a very unusual schooling, spending 12 of the years in a small town called Peddapuram. I hope to write more about it one day.