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Site | History | To-do

MC Masala

This repository is for the website containing Sumana Harihareswara's MC Masala newspaper columns -- a static text site with a simple search engine.


The site is at This repository contains the back-end scripts I wrote for munging the text, the CSS for styling the site, and the code and hooks for the search.


  1. Python 3
  2. Beautiful Soup 4 and Pystache
  3. Nodejs
  4. Lunr.js and jQuery - I used this plugin plus lunr.min.js


  1. python3 to create the data file for Lunr to search
  2. edit the JSON file slightly to turn the list into the value for a dictionary whose value is "pages"
  3. nodejs build_index.js to create Lunr.js's index file
  4. python3 to create the index.html and individual story files


Between April 2005 and August 2007, I wrote a weekly column called "MC Masala" for the "Inside Bay Area" section of several papers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Oakland Tribune. My work circulated to about a million people, I'm told. In 2011 I made an abortive attempt to get the columns online but wasn't a strong programmer and thus gave up on all the fiddly bits. Then, while at the Recurse Center, I figured this would be a fun and useful way to learn Beautiful Soup and learn to finagle a search engine. I wrote up a more detailed making-of.

No Maintenance Intended


  • improve de-duplication (checking dates and headlines)
  • fix Unicode-type character issues
  • figure out why only including search.min.js and not lunr.min.js causes registration problems
  • treat pullquotes and "write to her at" lines better
  • use Pystache more thoroughly instead of string concatenation & other hacks


Site for my old newspaper columns, using Beautiful Soup and a simple search engine




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