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Utter Strangers

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Tubelight, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. Tubelight

    Tubelight Bronze IL'ite

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    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"><meta name="ProgId" content="Word.Document"><meta name="Generator" content="Microsoft Word 11"><meta name="Originator" content="Microsoft Word 11"><link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5CHome%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtml1%5C01%5Cclip_filelist.xml"><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" name="City"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" name="place"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" name="Street"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" name="address"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" name="PlaceType"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" name="PlaceName"></o:smarttagtype><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:punctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><style> <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 90.0pt 72.0pt 90.0pt; mso-header-margin:35.4pt; mso-footer-margin:35.4pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> Hi.

    Do you know me ? Do I know you ? Why are you telling me your innermost thoughts ? Why am I sharing my private opinions with you ? If we shared the same maid and quarreled daily over her time slots, would I still send you lovey-dovey FBs ? If I came to your office and complained about inefficient service, would you still read my posts ?
    But, as matters stand, on the computer screen, I love you ; you love me. Because we, you and I , are Utter Strangers .

    Come to think of it, its quite scary. Like, imagine you are walking down <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Brigade Road</st1:address></st1:street>, munching pensively on a blueberry muffin . Wham ! you run into an Utter Stranger with an interesting face . Would you give her your brightest Hi ! and start reeling off about your childhood pranks or confide in her the psychological problems that affect your communication capabilities in mixed company ? Would you ? I guess not. I would not. But I did. Not on <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Brigade Road</st1:address></st1:street>, but on a www socialnetworking site. And it was not to one Utter Stranger with an interesting face, but to thirteen hundred Utter Strangers with unseen faces.

    The Net does that to you. It administers you a shot of The Truth Serum similar to the one used on stamp paper scamsters to make them sing like a canary. ( though the Telgi recording we heard on TV was enough to make the real Canary sue that similie for defamation). The Truth Serum used by The Net is called Anonymity. Anonymity is a powerful drug. Anonymity is an intoxicant. Anonymity is the opium that makes you transcend your barriers of caution, reserve and even good sense.

    I had the first heady experience of cosying up with Utter Strangers six years ago when I first got myself a Net-connection. Wasting the wealth offered by this remarkable Genie just for receiving a few inconsequential mails and many discount notices for certain enhancements not useful to my gender , seemed shameful.
    When you have a connection, you better connect.
    In no time at all, I got registered as member in half a dozen Group blogs, Social networking hubs and suchlike. And in no time at all , at least 35 Utter Strangers were addressing me as Dear , Darling, Gal, Buddy and a variety of vernacular endearments. Within two months, a swathe of Utter Strangers between Kota Kinabalu and Reyjavik knew a psychiatrist’s notebookworth of information about me . And in return, they were confiding in me about their own torrid fantasies, pet hates, cheap thrills and financial difficulties. The only thing I wasn’t told about was the exact size of Svetlana’s latest pimple.

    So whats the dope here ? Why do we feel free to express ourselves in such an open, unrestrained manner to Utter Strangers ?
    A realworld Friend told me that only people who have no flesh and blood confidantes would rely on digital Flowers, Birds and Godly Icons to provide that much needed human intimacy we crave for. “Get a life !” she ordered.
    But with the supercilious audacity of a new convert, I asserted “Utter Strangers make better friends” Why ? Because, they listen without interruption, without judgement, without making faces , without betraying through body language, any uncomplimentary opinion about your mental/spiritual/emotional health . If at all they respond, it is with much love, positivity and affection. And there’s no danger of anyone taking an ‘instant dislike’ to you just because your nose looks wrong, as it happens in real life.

    I will confess here that in realtime life, I don’t talk much. I am comfortable in the compact circle of a few good friends , yet I have my own Lakshman Rekhas where sharing of info. about my life and family is concerned . In our conservative tradition, family matters are kept within the four walls where they will be ironed out by the family members themselves. Making a mega serial for the neighbourhood’s entertainment is never an option. Yet, I plead guilty to having published one particular problem I had with my MIL in The World Wide Web for the whole wide world to read and, worse, to comment upon. To this day, my MIL does not suspect that I had transgressed a sacred code of propriety. I wonder how she’d react if, by some inexplicable cosmic manipulation, she chances to meet “JungleBelle65” of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Faridabad</st1:city></st1:place> and hears her discussing what was supposed to be our family’s dirty linen.
    Which brings me to the question of Anonymity. Would I know JungleBelle65 even if she met me at my doorstep, disguised in her real identity ?

    Many a time, on the road, in theatres, near shops, I’d study people wondering if I knew any of them in the Virtual world. Then, one day it happened. I overheard a boy on a bike telling his pillion rider about a bad dream . About a deep pit , a flying house and burning coconut trees. Whoa !Where did I hear of that before ? Ah yes, in a blog by DimpleCheeks . Every single detail, identical. Was this Dimplecheeks then ? A collegeboy ! All along I was comfortably getting along with the image of DC as a 35 year old HR lady on frequent guilt trips over leaving her baby in her mother’s care. Oh dear ! Perhaps she is a he ? This boy ? Could be .Couldn’t be. 50-50.
    It was as though an Instant Bodhi Tree sprouted like Jack’s beanstalk above my head : DimpleCheeks was a digital mannequin ! Inspite of blowing kisses to each other every day , we were Utter Strangers.
    That was that. I hanged all my avatars and made a hasty exit from the World of Illusions created by Unrealities and Nonbeings. And returned to 3D terra firma singing ( without apologies to SPB): “Srishtiya Sringaara sullina maaley / entha marulayya, idhu enthaa marulu !” ( Subtitles: “ The allurement of creation is a garland of lies . O , What delusion is this”)
    From then on, I did not peep into any networking site except for the family group blog . Initially, my hands did tremble and I did hallucinate about disjointed avatars floating in psychedelic space. But, proud to say, I overcame !
    That was then.


    Looooooooooooong after the foregoing, this January, I was felled. A chance search on google hurled me into another world called <st1:place w:st="on">Indus.</st1:place> Like a reformed junkie who chances upon a whiff of cocain , I turned into a ravenous re-addict .
    The overpowering embrace of Utter Strangers all over again. “Get a life!” orders from family , all over again.
    But there’s grand hope now that The World of Illusions will soon melt smoothly into the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">ocean</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Realtime Life</st1:placename></st1:place>. Lalitha Shivaguru is organizing a meetup at <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:place></st1:city> . Where I will get to meet some of the Utter Strangers who have been flitting in and out of my room these past 3 months , hoping they will become my Better Friends. In spite of my wrong nose.
    For me, an unprecedented experience awaits.
     
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  2. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Lakshmi:

    I haven't read you yet. But I wanted me to be the first one to comment. Will read now and write a comment.

    Love.

    oj-da
     
  3. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Lakshmi:

    I guess I am not an utter stranger to you. In a moment of weakness, I did tell some of you that I shall be pontificating in a TV show. And, if I remember correctly, you watched my stupid performance. A faint British accent intercepted by yankee "you know"s -- that was your reaction, or something close to it. In other words, I revealed to you more than my ugly nose. To tell you frankly, your comment stuck to my mind and in a subsequent TV appearance, I ensured that the faint B turned stronger and the "you know"s were banished for the two hours for which the show lasted.

    But this is not what I really want to tell you in response to your thread. What I have to offer is far too sad. I want to tell you about Steve West. He was a Britisher, who decided to settle in Gambia with his wife/partner. They ran a restaurant together and I came to know him on the net. There used to be a site called Storiesville. It does not exist anymore. It was patronized mostly by Westerners, but I got involved and even received a modicum of appreciation.

    Steve was much taken by my haiku experiments and, on one occasion, emailed to me a haiku he wrote about his pet dog that had just died. He wanted my opinion on the correctness of his haiku form and I thought it was marvelously well-written. He posted it on the site and received a mixture of comments.

    Steven's woman passed away a few months ago. It was cancer that arrived at very short notice and she was gone before he could turn around and figure out where he stood. He became very quiet after this event, but he did write a piece on his wife. It was a poignant account of the lady and more importantly, it expressed his inconsolable sense of loss.

    I have seen his picture of course, just as you have seen mine on TV. Only I had no idea how intense was the bonding between him and me. But realization dawned when an email arrived an hour ago from someone who said he was Steve's brother Mike. Steve had decided to leave us on Easter Monday.

    Steve must have had a collection of friends and Mike could have been alerted to the list. It was very kind of Mike to let me know. At the same time, his mail brought me an irrational sense of pain I have never felt before. As I was reading your post, I kept on thinking about Steve and about the total cyberness of our relationship. I felt tears welling out and I controlled myself with all the power at my disposal.

    It has been an eye opener, nay a heart or a mind opener, for me. I do not think I have felt so strongly about a friend passing away as I am feeling now. The cyber world looks far more real to me today and the real world all too cyber.

    I understand many of you more clearly at last than I ever thought I could. And I am sure that some of you will feel the same way the day I shall be no more. I will leave a few email address that I happen to know. Perhaps with my son. He will let you know when the event takes place. That's the least I owe to the cyber world that has given me so much in exchange for so little.

    Have you read 84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff?

    Love.

    oj-da

    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"><meta name="ProgId" content="Word.Document"><meta name="Generator" content="Microsoft Word 11"><meta name="Originator" content="Microsoft Word 11"><link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5CD1C81%7E1.DAS%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtml1%5C01%5Cclip_filelist.xml"><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:punctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:UseFELayout/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><style> <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS Mincho"; panose-1:2 2 6 9 4 2 5 8 3 4; mso-font-alt:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:eek:ther; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:"\@MS Mincho"; panose-1:2 2 6 9 4 2 5 8 3 4; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:modern; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:-1610612033 1757936891 16 0 131231 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS Mincho";} p {mso-margin-top-alt:auto; margin-right:0in; mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS Mincho";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> P.S. Soon after I wrote my fb to your post, I had to leave for IIT, Kharagpur where I will lecture tomorrow. Sitting in the car I received yet another email on my blackberry from Mike, Steve's brother. It was written in response to my condolence message. This is what he wrote:


    Hi Dasgupta,
    Hi again, thank you for your kind remarks; they are much appreciated. Steve sent me a list of people that he insisted I tell if anything happened to him. You must have been important to him as you were on the list, that's why i had your email address.

    Regards Mike



    I looked up at the star studded clear night sky and searched in vain for what I do not know myself. My frail defences had finally given way I knew. Outwardly though, I did not show any sign sorrow. Inwardly, I was shattered. I had guessed correctly. Steve had indeed prepared a list of people who should be informed.



    I had never seen Steve in person. And I will never see him now.


    But he was no utter stranger to me. Nor will he ever be.



    oj-da
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2010
  4. Paulina

    Paulina Moderator Staff Member Platinum IL'ite

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    Hi Tubelight,


    Great post and captivating chatty style that enthralls from start to finish !

    Wonderful reading about your adventures in cyberspace .....especially about MIL ! Thankfully she'll never venture into this exciting territory.

    To quote: .....

    "Looooooooooooong after the foregoing, this January, I was felled. A chance search on google hurled me into another world called <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:pLACE w:st="on">Indus.</ST1:pLACE> Like a reformed junkie who chances upon a whiff of cocain , I turned into a ravenous re-addict . "

    Such a wonderful happening....... "The Return of the Prodigal Daughter " !!

    We are all addicts here at IL and let me assure you that this is a wholesome addiction :biglaugh! You cannot get treated for this at any detoxification clinic ,coz none exists :biglaugh...guess they did try and even those who came forward for the noble task of rehabiltating victims fell head over heels after one whiff off the heady intoxicating fragrances that abound in IL territory !!:cheers

    I've read a number of your posts here and find them all superb ! You are in a class of your own TL ...with your fantastic gift of narration and your talent at weaving a colourful tapestry with one little thread ....in this case it is all about "UTTER STRANGERS" and what a colourful spread .Immensely enjoyed it ...keep at it
    All the best for more.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2010
  5. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    Oh dear TL..I couldn’t help my first thought..what if junglebelle65 WAS your MIL???:rotfl:rotfl

    I maybe wrong but social networking flourishes because there are many lonely people out there in this world. This is the first and only networking site of which I am a member . I too have wondered at this friendship between utter strangers .Amazing, no? That we care enough to cheer up a friend who we have never met or rejoice in his/her achievements..

    I am a shy person basically but very comfortable and bubbly with my group of friends. Also, I just cannot for the life of me be fake.

    So here I had the perfect opportunity to meet people, take my own time in knowing them, then I myself revealed my real name once I became comfortable with them ,also sent my pictures to some of them who wanted to see me .It was a gradual process which suits me fine. Now I want to meet all my friends very badly .:)

    Have a GREAT time at the Bangalore meet..I look forward to seeing you all in the pictures (our lalli here is the perfect organizer and is sure to come up with a great thread on the same ) and hopefully in person, this july/august.

    :thumbsup as usual !:)
     
  6. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear TL
    You know what?
    I am feeling increasingly inadequate to comment on your classy writings!. It is almost like an inexperienced batsman facing for the first time Murali and Shane Warne in their prime. And I am no Tendulkar either!
    Great stuff again! Can anyone say anything else about your beautiful threads?
    Regards
    Sri
     
  7. mithila kannan

    mithila kannan Gold IL'ite

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    Oh,Lakshmi,
    What a wonderful writer you are!I thoroughly enjoyed the post.
    Dear Lakshmi,I have always been an impulsive person.If a thought comes to me that I should do something I go ahead and do it. In the initial period of joining IL ,I wrote about my family,some details were discussed by me .But this is me.I don't think I can ever change.

    One more thing,please don't get me wrong,why do we call matters associated with family dirty linn,when they are discussed with others?We share these matters that lie dominant in our minds,sometimes hurting us and sometimes pricking us,because we feel light after that.

    Great blog!
    love
    mithila
     
  8. Soldier

    Soldier Gold IL'ite

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    Hi Laks,

    One more wonderful treat from you da. How do you choose such good titles and write so lovely on them eh?

    Yeah, I too had my inhibitions about joining networking sites - am still not in fb, linkedin, orkut and the like - i don't know why - my children don't want me to. When they said, I too remained cool for I was not very keen. But IL, the moment I came to know of it while googling, I simply could not resist.

    Initially, I restricted only to a few posts here and there and more to A-Z, Vowels - i.e. the fun and music forums only.

    Then when through A-Z I got to know a few friends here, since then this bonding continued. I have sort of felt a relationship of many years with some friends here on whom I can repose confidence and get along easily. But as you say, on the question of sharing family details, one may have a question in mind, can I or should I not?

    And, here too, I cannot say all members are totally genuine. The interactions only with some of them here gives you a feel of being open.

    Very well written Lakshmi. Though you are new buddy, I am thinking what apt title can I confer on you in the forthcoming sequel of Awards & Accolades!!!!!!!!

    Well done and my :kiss

    Enjoy your IL Meet and don't miss to share some of the nice moments you had there!!!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  9. natpudan

    natpudan Gold IL'ite

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    H.......... a.............. i

    L
    .............a
    ..........................k
    ......................................s
    ..................................................h
    .................................................................m
    ..................................................................................i
    ................................................................................................I
    .................................................................................am
    ..................................................................not
    ....................................................able

    ........................................to
    .........................write

    anything......................... yar.

    I forgot my English, grammar, etc........

    You made me forget. Nice one dear. :thumbsup
     
  10. radsahana

    radsahana Silver IL'ite

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    Hey lakshmi


    Other day i was wondering, we are having dry run from you, for so many days had passed and no post from you. Atlast now our thirst is quenched.

    Before reading your post, i read on headline news, that "Facebook" profile and friends comment put someones career in jeopardy.

    Yes it is true, in virtual world, we never know, if the person with whom we are interacting come face to face, we wont recognise them.

    But like everyone said, here in IL, i feel like home, i am not intimidated or scared to present here.


    Very very well written,enjoyed it thoroughly.:thumbsup
     

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