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DR MICHAEL LOBO: PROBING FAMILY ROOTS AND BRANCHES
 
Profile and interview by Richie Lasrado, Resident Editor, Daijiworld.com

This is an age of putting up appearances and make-believe. These are the times where one has to jockey for fame and awards. But here is a man who has done so much for the Mangalorean society. He kicked a lucrative career abroad with bright prospects of becoming a scientist of international calibre and came back to his roots. When many of our people hankered after opportunities to settle abroad and thereafter disowned their own roots, with a few of them even refusing to be called Mangaloreans, he came back to his home town to take up a thankless job - entailing a heavy fortune - of studying the family roots of the community. All without any grants or sponsorship. By bleeding his own hard-earned funds in the process. More than all, without expecting any rewards or awards.

Yet, alas, there is hardly any recognition worth the mention. Nor any acknowledgement from official quarters or from ecclesiastical higher-ups. Those who curry favour with the powers-that-be and lobby at the right places often get recognition, thus leaving the deserving ones frustrated. But this gentleman is unruffled and unaffected by the apathy and cold shoulder shown by the society. All the same, he just goes on with his research and writing work.

Many Daijiworld.com readers may have already heard the name of Dr Michael Lobo, who, over the past decade, has undertaken a very comprehensive study of the history of the Mangalorean Catholic community and the genealogy of its families. Three of his books in this area have already been published - all offshoots of his major work entitled A Genealogical Encyclopaedia of Mangalorean Catholic Families, which is already in excess of 6000 pages.

Michael Lobo was born in Mangalore on September 12, 1953 at the ancestral home of the Bijai branch of the Lobo Prabhu family. He is the great-great grandson of Lawrence Lobo Prabhu (1805-83), a distinguished jurist of his time, and the donor of the site of St Aloysius College. His father, Camillo Lobo (1907-71), was an engineering graduate of Imperial College, London, who later joined the British-Indian army, and served with distinction in Egypt and Italy during World War II.

Michael's mother, Maisie nee Fernandes (1919-94), belonged to the Tonse Fernandes Prabhu family, who migrated from Divarde, Goa, to Kallianpur, in 1740. Her father, Stephen Fernandes (1885-1957), retired as City Magistrate, Poona, and her brother, Praxy Fernandes (1926-2001), attained distinction, as Finance Secretary, Government of India.

Michael Lobo matriculated from Montfort Boys High School, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, graduated from St Aloysius College, Mangalore, and went on for post-graduate studies in mathematics. As a student, he was a keen chess player and, in 1975, qualified for the National A (India's top 20). He also dabbled in mountaineering, and underwent a course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, passing with distinction.

However, Michael gave up both mountaineering and chess, in favour of an academic career. He joined the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, for research studies in Transonic Aerodynamics, the mathematical design of bodies, notably aircraft wings, moving at velocities close to the speed of sound. He published five papers on this subject, two of which appeared in the proceedings of the Royal Society, London. The Royal Society is the world's oldest and most prestigious scientific body.

Michael was formally awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1982, his doctoral thesis earning him the "Young Scientist Award" of the Indian National Science Academy in 1983.

In 1984, Michael obtained a Commonwealth Scholarship to the Cranfield Institute of Technology, England, and was subsequently absorbed in the Faculty of this institute, being employed there until 1993. During this period, he was engaged in contract research for a consortium of British Industry, including Rolls Royce and British Aerospace.

Michael also supervised a number of Ph.D. students from various countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Greece, Taiwan, Venezuela, and of course Britain itself. Finally, he authored a few technical works in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), notably Time Marching - A Step-by-step Guide to a Flow Solver, published by Ashgate Press, who specialize in the publication of scientific books in the United Kingdom.

Being modest and unassuming, he needed much persuasion to give an interview. Here are excerpts:

What made you come back to Mangalore, while most of our compatriots grab the earliest available opportunity to migrate once they are on foreign soil?

In 1993, various personal crises forced me to make a permanent return to my home town. And thus began the second phase of my professional career - as a writer.

Is there anything you cherish as an achievement in England?

In my opinion, my greatest achievement, during the years I spent in England, was to trace an English family, with whom my late father had stayed, as an engineering student in the late 1920s and early 1930s: Mr and Mrs Drake had passed away, but Barbara and Pat, despite being very young at the time, still remembered him very well. They were thrilled to re-establish contact with the Lobo family after a gap of 60 years - and made a trip to India in 1990 to meet my mother Maisie.

How did you discover yourself as a writer, while essentially you have been a scientist and a researcher?

I have always possessed an inclination for writing books. While on the staff of Cranfield, I compiled, during my spare time, a 1000-page dictionary of English words deriving from Classical Greek. Samples of this work drew appreciative comments from various publishers, notably Oxford University Press, but the general impression was that the demand for the book would not suffice to meet the cost of publication. Some of my Greek students and colleagues at Cranfield assured me of help in the shape of sponsorship from a Greek shipping magnate, but, as yet, this work remains unpublished.

During my final years at Cranfield (1992-93), I also worked on a book of origins of popular songs dating from the rock'n'roll era, back to the 19th century and even earlier. Like the aforementioned dictionary, this work is also of near encyclopaedic size. However, partly due to copyright problems on lyrics, this book is also still unpublished.

Tell us about your post-return writing achievements:

Since 1994, with the exception of a single year (1996) in which I returned to Cranfield and also spent some months at an institute in Mexico, I have been based at Mangalore, my ancestral home, and have involved, on a full-time basis, on a research project on the history and genealogy of the Catholic community of this area. The project has taken shape as : A Genealogical Encyclopaedia of Mangalorean Catholic Families.

Can you elaborate on its nature and contents?

This Genealogical Encyclopaedia - currently in excess of 6000 pages and still growing - is probably the only work of its kind in existence! It covers over a thousand families, each of which is researched as far back as its ancestry can be traced. In general, families of Mangalore proper can be traced back 200 years, beyond which authentication from church records is unavailable. The encyclopaedia is replete with cross-references, enabling any person featuring in the work to trace ancestry and relationships in all directions.

What is so special about this encyclopaedia?

There are a large number of genealogical works published in Britain and the USA, but virtually all relate to specific families, enabling descendants to pursue ancestry in one direction only. The Mangalorean Catholic community probably has the distinction of being the only community in the world to possess its own genealogical encyclopaedia.

What about the three books already published by you?

Although the major work is still unfinished, three offshoots have thus far been launched.
Mangaloreans Worldwide - An International Directory (1999): 360 pages
Distinguished Mangalorean Catholics (2000) - 600 pages
The Mangalorean Catholic Community - A Professional History / Directory(2002): 1200 pages

Apparently, your books have not been marketed properly. Obviously, as a result of this, a large number of Mangaloreans, especially those abroad, appear to be unaware of your efforts and pieces of work.

I intend to put up more information on these three books, and the main genealogical encyclopaedia, on your portal soon. Meanwhile, depending on the response of the readers and interest evinced, I am prepared to run a special column, in which I may provide extracts from my works, and will also answer readers' questions on the history and genealogy of the Mangalorean Catholic community.

Editor's note:
Dr Michael Lobo can be contacted at "Camelot", Bijai Church Road, Mangalore 575 004 Phone +91 824 2212349. E-mail:
dr.michael.lobo@gmail.com or  michael_lobo92@ahoo.com

Browse the list of 'ACHIEVERS'
Comments on this article
DR MICHAEL LOBO: PROBING FAMILY ROOTS AND BRANCHES, f.p.gabriel/mangalore/uaeWednesday, November 23, 2011
Besides the artful sculptuor of his works described above," there is much more beauty to the dignity of a smiling stature and direction, advised by Dr.Michael",I felt priveledged to step into his home, and witnessed the Halo of humility and beauty in his personality with encouraging words, as i seeked for advice and guidance on subjects of cosmologicaland astro- physics interest, DR.L.Michael was so receptive,there is so much more praiseworthy to be said that words can't,- besides the above I felt that, he has dedicated his precious time, energy and a synchronised talent of judgement
in all fields close to his Profession
and heart.

I wish God to Bless him and his family ,grant him a healthy long life.
Elucidatory Regards





Comment on this message     

REKHA MONICA SILVER, HYDERABADFriday, July 29, 2011
I am searching for my ancestors who lived in Kankanady. My great grand father's name is Eric Domnic Da Silva, My Grandfather's name is Sunny Felix Silver, My father's name is Goerge Oliver Silver. If any one can recognize these names, please contact me.
Comment on this message     

Seema, Karnataka/MumbaiMonday, October 11, 2010
I am searching for my mother Iris Fernandes wife of R.Mohan Cariappa, her native place was karkala and in mumbai they stayed at Bandra. My parents were divorced, i want to meet my mom once before my life comes to an end. Can anyone please help me find my mom through this website. PLEASE..
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Amelia Gomes nee DSouza, Karkala ShirvaTuesday, March 30, 2010
I was always interested in my ancestry and now I finally have a way to have some light thrown on it Thank you Dr.Lobo
Comment on this message     

Mavis M Moraes, Mangalore/ BangaloreWednesday, January 06, 2010
Mr. Lasrado needs to be commended for the excellent article on Dr. M. Lobo. Many of us Mangaloreans do not have much of an idea of the mammoth work done by Dr. Michael Lobo in the field of Mangalore Catholic Geneology. He does certainly deserve to be higly commended on this. Perhaps our Community leaders/politicians (irrespective of party affiliations) ought to recommend his name for one of the prestigious awards of the country.
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Ancil James Concesso, Permude / MuscatSunday, September 27, 2009
I was always interested in knowing about my ancestry, and when I heard that Dr. Lobo has actually researched and collated information on the genealogy of Mangalorean Catholic families, I was very excited. I have been communicating with Dr. Lobo since a month now, and he has been very patient in answering my questions. I wish him all success in his project and I am look forward to seeing his articles on daiji dubai.
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John, BombayThursday, September 17, 2009
Dr. Lobo deserves much more than this. I would be happy if more newspapers other than Daijiworld feature articles on him. In honour of his contribution, I have created his article on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Lobo
Comment on this message     

Joyson Fernandes, Shirva/MangaloreThursday, July 16, 2009
I couldn''t be any more greatful to Mr. Lobo for his well sourced and exhaustive research on this subject. I''m really looking forward to purchasing the book and tracing my genealogy all the way to the first Hindu ancestor who converted, if possible.
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Adam D'Souza, Moodubelle/CaliforniaTuesday, June 03, 2008
Dr. Lobo is an amazing personality, he has done a lot of selfless work for our community.
Comment on this message     

Maya, Bijai/TorontoMonday, February 11, 2008
Well written article. Michael has given his time and put a lot of effort and his heart into whatever he has been doing. Proud of you Michael. Thank you for your contributions to the community.
Comment on this message     

Joe Britto, Nakre/BangaloreMonday, February 11, 2008

Truly well articulated by Mr.Richie Lazrado. Apart from the pioneering effort as seen in the book 'Genealogical Encyclopaedia' and also other notable contributions by Dr. Michael Lobo viz. 'Mangaloreans Worldwide''Distinguished Mangalorean Catholics' and 'The Mangalorean Catholic Community ', It would be quite appropriate to mention also his GREAT contribution to the CASK ( Mangalore ) which has actually been resurrected from the dead and has become a lively monthly which every Manglorean enjoys reading .

Most importantly Dr. Michael Lobo has always been very simple, noble and approachable and is fully glued to his goals and not at all bothered about minor bickerings and false criticisms for his valued contributions in the past as well as future 'Great Expectations'. Congrats Dr. Michael Lobo, we are all proud of you !!

Comment on this message     

Rudolph Mathias, Shirva/ MumbaiSaturday, February 09, 2008
These are times, Mangloreans are ashamed of their identity, many pretend ignorance concerning their mothertongue, this article brings hope to people, who are appalled at the cultural hypocrits from within the community. Congratulations! Keep up the good work.
Comment on this message     

Helen D'souza, MumbaiFriday, November 16, 2007
Kudos to u Dr.Lobo for the fantastic work u are doing. We are a family of 7 siblings and are extremely curious about our genealogy. Hope your book can help us!
Comment on this message     

Capt. Gerard D'Souza, ChennaiTuesday, October 09, 2007
Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Michael Lobo, there has been a revived interest in the Mangalorean Catholic families with regard to their roots. His period of stewardship of the magazine 'Mangalore' of which he was the editor till recently, made many Mangaloreans worldwide, be aware of the happenings there. Our sincere thanks to him for all the time and effort he has put into the community.
Comment on this message     

Adrian D'Souza, California, USAThursday, July 19, 2007

I concur with all that is said in this article - particularly the fact that Michael is a unique resource for the Mangalorean community who has labored for years with little recognition of his talents and prodigious memory.

Only a mathematician could keep track of the many permutations of this distinct genalogical group. He deserves a lot more support and recognition than he currently receives.

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