Indian American Guru Raj, who created an e-mail address on newly launched gmail in the name of Barack Obama four years ago, is now receiving thousands of mails every day from the fans of the Democratic Presidential candidate.
Raj, a recent graduate of University of Virginia, was watching young senator Obama - a senator - giving keynote address to the Democratic convention. So, tried barackobama@gmail.Com on just four-month-old gmail in July 2004 and it worked.
In his story recalled by the New Yorker magazine, Raj used barackobama@gmail.Com as his personal email account. And thus was born a new email account at a time Obama seeking Democratic nomination was still four years away.
"I'm not some cute little Indian boy who grew up in America with political aspirations," Raj, told New Yorker recently. "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."
In 2006, he received, for the first time, a message intended for the Senator.
By February, 2007, when Obama formally announced his candidacy, Raj was daily receiving dozens of misdirected notes from all over the world.
The letters expressed a range of sentiments: simple incredulity ("R U REAL?"), electoral reassurance ("Don't worry about California, they're old fogies anyway"), mystical backing ("You represent the spirit of the Lotus sutra"), conspiratorial opposition ("Obama might not be a US citizen and not qualified to run for president"), niggling criticism ("You were losing your OOMPH delivering your speeches in Texas and Ohio"), sound advice ("Don't lose your humility").
Raj's favourite e-mail was a nursery rhyme that went, "Hillery Dillery Dock / Obama will clean her clock / Monica's a sin / Bu Ba fell in / Now she's gotta deal with Barack."
Other correspondents, Raj told, were more practical-mindedone 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 shirtpreferably a medium").
On May 30th, a real-estate agent from Manhattan sent the following note to barackobama@gmail.Com, as well as to barackobama@hotmail.Com and barackobama@yahoo.Com: "Mr Obama, good luck in the rest of the election year. Please let me know if you have any real estate needs."
Raj, who now works for a software consulting company in Washington, DC, never replied to these, or to any other e-mails meant for Obama, not even to tell an excited would-be pen pal that he is not, in fact, the Democrats' presumptive Presidential nominee, the magazine said.
"It just became an interesting portal into Americans," he said. "From the beginning, I had no intention of manipulating anyone."
Still, New Yorker says the experiment has recently begun to overwhelm him. On June 12th, barackobama@gmail.Com started receiving much more spam. Raj suspects that an international political website posted his Gmail address, "because suddenly I was inundated." (He now receives some sixty e-mails a day addressing the Senator, most of them in foreign languages, especially Russian.)
It was becoming impossible for him, he says, to separate his own electronic life from Obama's, so last fall Raj began using a backup account. This new Gmail address incorporates his first name, his last name, andthe linchpinhis middle initial.