Strangers, Guests and Friends…

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Fourth year and running. Mangalorean.com: What tribute do you deserve?


M.com the greatest? (?.sure. But they’ll say it’s the same old clich?).


Ok. How about this: a community site numero uno (a little Italian could make it sound sophisticated!).


‘Nope!’ My Terrier looks at me as if to say: ‘It sounds a bit too corny.’


After a protracted stare-back I give up. It’s time to close your eyes and focus –because it’s one of those days again when you use the ‘backspace’ more than the keys. I need a life-line before I loose into the Monday Night football game.


How about the name itself? Let’s start with that. 


Mangalorean.com: Is it appropriate? What does it represent? Could it not be replaced by other deserving names too:  like gulf-ghars-on- a-writingspree.com or mangaloreans-wanting-to-make-fun-of-firangis.com or american-born-confused-kudlaites.com? I chuckle to myself. My Terrier is not amused. She has given up on this masterpiece and is already sulking on my lap.


Before my starry-eyed creation runs the dirt, I need to change gears into something more serious (lest I be mistakenly placed in the humor blog by our webmaster friend).  I scratch my beard for a while (like one of my all time favorite Math teacher used to do– Number 54: How do ya ataak the problem?).


That’s when you wait to hit by that elusive brain wave (or string or particle or whatever Stephen Hawking likes to call it). The cursor keeps blinking at me haplessly. This is the challenge of writing on a word processor. In the good old days, when we wrote in our fountain pens, there were no cursors to mock you. You just took an old parker pen and scribbled (of course then you had to worry about the unpredictable ink-blot). Now the cursor wants you to write when your brain is fried. I cannot stand this torture anymore. Perhaps I should go on a short stroll. They say ideas popup when the full moon hits the ‘full moon’ of your gray cells (pun deliberately intended!). Although, in my case it has to pierce through a dense course of forest first.


So that didn’t work out. Let me go back to my desk and see what happens. May be ‘google’ could provide some inspiration. I get back to my desk and key in ‘friends and strangers.’ There are several quotes there, although none interest me. I scroll lethargically down the entire 30 entries and one of them catches my attention.


It says ‘strangers are friends waiting to happen.’


Wow! How appropriate. That’s the spark I needed. I pat my Terrier’s scalp (and she knows I did it on a self-congratulatory note). Isn’t that what M.com’s all about –Strangers becoming friends?


Good going till now. But I do not want to loose into thus sentimental eulogy. My readers deserve more than welling their eyes on a happy day?





""…Here we come as strangers, stay as guests. Most importantly we leave as friends. If at all we do….""


‘Try some key words,’ my significant other yells from the studio.


She knows it means trouble when she doesn’t hear my keyboard going clickity click (or right now more likely a ‘clickity swishhh?).


‘Thanks’ I yell back.


What key word best fits the people around here:


 Writers? Readers? Talents..?….that’s it talents!


I drag my Terriers ears. She pants at me with approval. This is what they are. Talents are born here. Talents die here. New talents are born again and old talents resurrect. They appear in waves. And so they disappear. But they keep coming back to catch up where the other talents left. Amen. I end in the Lord’s prayer.


Hmm? that must get some attention from my demanding readers?won’t it? I ask my Terrier who is incidentally falling asleep now. She opens her eyes just enough to show that she is still interested. I know she is calling the bluff. I rub my palms and fake a grin, but then I’m struck with the reality of the actual comments from my readers:
Well written Newton?.but wish you wrote something a tad longer‘ or
‘Great write-up Newton?.but I think you should keep it simpler than use such poetic jargon!’


Well I guess I need to be more persuasive. I look at my clock. It’s beating ten minutes to the game. All I need is a killer sentence and then I can nail this one.


Not smoking is a detractor to ideas they say. So, I use a substitute?my favorite Darjeeling Tea?.I shake my glass in brisk motion as if getting ready to consume some Guinness on the Rocks.


Why do people visit this site? 


Let’s see. For some of us there is a reason to burn the midnight monitors. And for others this is our finger’s treadmill. Some do it out of habit. Some do it out of compulsion. And then there are those who come here to dig their own carpal tunnels! (Wow?.that was a killer sentence. Now, all  I need is a nail.)


Not yet. Hurry Potter! You need to write more (my inner voice calls from the studio).
What else happens here?


We call attention through our Voices. And we express our thoughts through ‘express your thoughts.’ When we are exhausted someone else does the expression. When someone else expresses, we suffer from exhaustion!


What else do we do.


We bless our land. We curse our land. We duel between our birth land and our adopted land. Which one is which, it’s hard to tell. But we fight nevertheless –because we are either curious, jingoistic, patriotic or simply nostalgic. 


We turn travel into travelogues and dial-ups into dialogues (that was an awkward attempt at rhyming, they’ll say).  Some people here turn disasters into recipes, and others vice- versa (and you can include me in that one).


We have pots’n’paints’n’sketches’n’quotes’n’poems’n’cartoons’n’video’n’deman’n’ ev’n a separate corner for kids. Isn’ that somethn’ evryon’?


We do our confessions here. We seek communion with an international audience. We look for confirmation from those elusive matrimonials (guys, notice the sacraments, if you haven’t and make my day!).  We pride in being secular. We are Hindus, We are Muslims, We are Sikhs and We are Christians. We celebrate our identity and sometimes in excess. At times we thrive in harmony and sometimes delusional.


What else do we do? 


We use flowery words to portray simple thoughts. We use pedestrian words to convey complex philosophy. We do our corny sentiments. We wince in back-biting debates. We brood in self pity. We wince in tacky wit. We are philosophers. We are fiction artists. We are dentists. We are feminists. We love to scratch each others back. And most of all we love to tickle toes (haven’t tried that one in a long time!)


We embarrass others by placing their defaced photos as greetings. We embarrass ourselves when someone else does it for us. As in the same spirit we appeal for charity, so in the same spirit we revel in insanity (beautiful writing Newton?.you are one of my favorite writers, they’ll say!).


Our dear webmasters remain silent as always.  Enjoying our trivial pursuits from a distance, that must be fun, eh! We are mere pawns on their chess board of pixels. Yet, who else deserves more –the collective wisdom of our stupidity!  Because after all they do the hardwork. Turning bits and bytes, into words and pictures. Aren’t they our miracle workers? Of course, they have not turned water into wine yet. (The webmaster once told me he once did it the other way around! And the last time I checked with Vatican that still counts!). But jokes aside, they turn ordinary people into stars. Extraordinary people into avatars. They turn students into journalists. Journalists into pessimists. Amateurs into photographers. Photographers into narcissists!


Is that it? Did I blurt it all out? Was I successful in embarrassing everyone here? Need I add more? I settle down –take a deep breath and read the draft. I see all the red marks on the spell check. When you write that fast it’s even illegible to me.


‘How does it read?’ I ask my Terrier.


She ‘woofs’ me for disturbing her long slumber. I read it myself. There’s still something missing. But I don’t have time. Far beyond the sofa I see Reggie Bush taking a bow. I need a nail on this one fast.


What else. What else. What else….I pace myself back and forth and then stumble upon a quote from the last reserves of my memory. Soon I belt it down and pull the plug to my monitor. The radiation disappears as the sentence evaporates: ‘Mangalorean.com: Here we come as strangers, stay as guests. Most importantly we leave as friends. If at all we do.’


Its time to send this baby packing. From my Toshiba it will find its way, like many other articles, poems, and recipes in the vast desert of Cyberia, to be recovered at the oasis of M’com. There our readers will come to quench and consume, digest, regurgitate, chew or simply ignore. Meanwhile on another pasteur– the ball is in the end zone –and it’s time to dance!

Author: Newton Dsouza- USA


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