Monday, August 04, 2008

Indian owns Obama e-mail ID

Almost four years ago to this week, when Google Email was still a fledgling beta version, University of Virginia graduate Guru Raj tried to register a gmail address under his name because his school e-mail was expiring. But and were already taken, so on a lark, he tried barackobama, after the Illinois Senator who he was watching deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention around that time.

It worked — barackobama @gmail. com was unclaimed. “I just thought it would be kind of funny to create an e-mail address based on a random senator whose name no one could spell,’’ Guru Raj would later tell the New Yorker, which first reported the story. “I’m not some cute little Indian boy who grew up in America with political aspirations.’’

Not much happened for a couple of years, since the first term Senator’s presidential aspirations were still unknown at that time. But as gmail became popular and Obama’s profile grew, the mails began rolling in. In the fall of 2006, Guru Raj received, for the first time, a message intended for the Senator. By February 2007, when Obama formally announced his candidacy, it was a flood. By 2008, it was a spam bam.

Correspondents were more practical-minded, said the report. One extended an invitation to a Seder in Hyde Park (“We heard you were shooting a movie at the synagogue by our place’’), while another expressed regrets (“I can’t make the meeting tomorrow, but I’d like to buy a shirt — preferably a medium’’). At 11.14 pm on May 30, a real-estate agent from Manhattan sent the following note to, as well as to and “Mr Obama, good luck in the rest of the election year. Please let me know if you have any real estate needs.’’

Guru Raj says he never replied to any of the e-mails. As the flood turned into a spam-nami, he bolted to another gmail account created by the simple expedient of inserting his middle initial between Guru and Raj. He then diverted the e-mail he gets at to a spam folder in the new account. “I check it every once in a while to see if Obama’s got any interesting mail,’’ he says.

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