The address list of family and friends serves an important function – that of dispatching information regarding births, engagements, marriages, and of course, deaths. Ever since the Indian Postal service was established in 1861, I am sure that families must have had an address list. Since the letter was the only form of communication, those of the sons and daughters and sisters and brothers who lived away, would have been available easily. The addresses of the more distant relatives and friends, with whom you communicated only for formal events – I wonder who maintained these?
My father always maintained a very updated address book, with entries in his small, slightly unreadable but neat hand. I took after him, and always kept mine updated. I even took the trouble to painstakingly transcribe the addresses into a new book every 2-3 years – either because the As, Ps, Ss would run out of space or there were too many cuts and over writings due to folks moving etc…
With the advent of the computer era, I created the digital address book, by diligently typing in all the information into the Windows address facility. I transferred it from hard disk to hard disk with each computer upgrade. However, the updated book itself was always with me – this was long before 2G or 3G, and the instant access at your finger tips.
But, as time passed, the next generation of the family got dispersed further afield, personal contact became infrequent, and we shrank into our modern, connected-but-not-connected lives. And now the phone carries all the contacts, which is usually only just a name and a mobile number. In case there is the rare need for the address – well just call!!
So when I got a request for the family address book (and not for a wedding this time!) I was completely at a loss – I did not have an updated address book! I dug into my store and found 3 old address books (2 mine, 1 of Subhash) and here they are….
My mother was one of 7 siblings and I have 14 cousins on her side (3 dead). Of these, I have the addresses for only of nine. My father was one of 4 sibs, and I have contact with all my 14 cousins (1 dead). But as I was recreating this Excel sheet, I started filling in the names the next generation and then the next – I realized that while I knew all members of generation 3, I knew little more than the names for many of them. As for generation 4, I did not even know the names of many.
So I have set out to expand the connections, create as full a database as possible. Already there are initial hiccups – enthusiastic response from some and total silence from others to whom I sent out emails. There is the family of my mother’s eldest brother with whom, there has been no contact for decades! So, to fill in all the blanks may prove a challenge – but in this connected world, I am thinking that it may be an interesting journey!!