Saturday, May 21, 2011

Two thousand names and counting.....

When I first heard about Patty's "A Thousand Words" idea for the month of May, I knew immediately what I wanted to post. A project that has been ongoing in our house for years now, about 39 years......yes, that's what happens when you have a geeky left brained "doggedly pursuing" kind of husband! 


It is OUR FAMILY TREE! 


He started this even before we got married when in the summer of 72' his great uncle came to live with them. An old rambling sort of uncle who went on and on about things that happened in the family, half the time that no one listened to, until one day my husband (then a mere 19 years old) asked about certain names of certain people. The "rambling uncle" shot off each and everyone's name and thus inadvertently planted the "family tree" seed in my husband's brain. 

So all through our married life, this document has emerged periodically and has often been the target of my ire - not because I was jealous of the time my husband spent on it, instead of me....no, because the darn thing which was growing longer each time, like Pinocchio's nose, was always a mess, its pages strewn around all over the pristine clean floors....
What was 4 pages when I met him in 76' - each sheet 12" x 18" - is now 50 sheets and counting. (To give you a sense of how big it is - if you have a room 50' x 75' big, the sheets will cover the entire floor area!!!!) Each marriage in the family brings with it not just the name of the bride or groom, but their entire family....so you can only imagine how big this tree has become. And I am resigned to the fact that it will never end and will continue to grow and - because more names = more sheets = more mess......always be my nemesis!



But all that aside, it has been a painstaking work in progress and I admire him for the tenacity and doggedness with which he continues to update it. Helpful friends and relatives have often suggested new software available that can update all this information easily, but he continues to do it the old fashioned way. Visiting relatives are all grilled and questioned, and they are all happy to oblige to help fill in the gaps in the tree, their stories peppered with funny stories about the ones they remembered....and these have dutifully been added to the tree alongside the name.
Now, as if all this wasn't enough, he has now decided to digitize this tree....into an excel spreadsheet. So manually, mind you, he has been transferring all the 2000 odd names from the tree to the xls. with 1100 rows and 16 columns! Once someone gets married, their name gets "hyperlinked in blue" which when clicked will take you to their married family's information.....quite a task!
Page 1, rows 6 to 22, columns A to F - where it all begins.....
Rows 523 to 552 - about half way through


Now here are some interesting observations we have made from researching 7 generations of families.....

1. Families are much smaller in size
2. Life span is pretty much the same as now....they all seemed to live healthy long lives. There were more cases of infant mortality though....
3. Very traditional womens' names like Bageerathi, Pacchanayaki and Seshambal are no longer popular. "Modern" families now name their kids Ananya, Sheila and Anita! Easier on the tongue and for the passport officials to pronounce!!!
4. There were a lot of adoptions - children being adopted or being brought up by foster parents, the power of the joint family
5. Women never worked, men had jobs like court lawyers, teachers, judges, tutors, schoolmasters etc, today a large percentage of women work, the men are engineers, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists
6. Going to Burma, the Middle East, Baghdad and UK to work was like going to the US today to study

So there you have it Patty! You asked for a thousand words, I gave you 2000 names!!!! 

16 comments:

Patricia Torres said...

Oh my gosh.. I must send my cousin to meet your hubby... really!! My cousin Lesley.. has been desperately attempting to make a family tree... and is continuously failing.. I keep laughing at him.. but now looking at this.. I feel its so so important.. its the best thing ever.. to pass on to your kids.. wow!! Kamini.. Hats off.. the persistence.. and dedication behind this... wow!!

Neha@ All things beautiful said...

How very interesting!

GB said...

So my folks have never tried this, but I think that my mom is like that rambling uncle of yours, i.e. she carries these names in her brain and can give to details of what they ate, what they wore, where they played...and I used to love listening to these stories, but sadly for me, it's in one ear out the next.

and my dad is like your husband, he loves excel, and he LOVES hyperlinking within documents. (My marriage was planned out on an excel spreadsheet and he now keeps tabs on the workhours and salaries of the help(which they have taken on only now, for the first time in their 70+ years of life) on spreadsheets...)

Maybe I should mention this project to them, I'm sure daddy will take to it like a duck to water!

Sorry for the long comment.

Sudha said...

amazing dedication...after my grandfather, there is no one in the family who Rambles..i miss that though...

a little off topic - loved your alarm clock..my grandfather had one like that...i m not sure where it is right now :)

Anu@My Dream Canvas said...

Oh this is such a heartfelt post...love it. I admire his dedicaion. What a legacy and treasure for everyone in the family to enjoy. I have a corner in my loft where I have pictures going back to my great great grandparents on both sides but thats my extent of a family tree :-) This is amazing!!!

Shanthi said...

That was something Raga!!! Interesting! I tried to get this family tree in place some years ago when my daughter had a project in her school. Then I frantically called my uncles and aunts, grand pa's and grandmoms to get some info. But I have to admit - I passed on that information to her and lived happily ever after. But true in the west you find softwares that can help you track your family tree and they also have good records in the churches. I think if we loose this generation of 70+ people in our part of the world - then this info is forever lost. Good job. Hope more will get inspired to secure their famnily tree's.

Komali Nunna said...

When my father died, my elder brother made a book about my family tree and gave it to all the relatives as a gift.Since my father was very much into keeping connected with all the relatives, it was a good gesture to publish my family tree in his honor. I can understand how much research went through your family tree project.

Ambika said...

I like this post a lost, very different! And what dedication to build the tree up, amazing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kamini
Been a fan of your writing since i stumbled into your blog 6 months ago.
Have you heard about "Geni" website , where you can create your family tree and also keep in touch with every one, Can have family discussions on various topics like family receipes, family fun times...

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've been a silent reader of this blog, and really enjoy it. Every family seems to have someone who has taken the pains to do this. An uncle of my father did a version, and my spanish father in law has another. The cool thing about the spanish family is that once every 2 years the entire family meets up... about 200+ people!
If you publish that excel, I am sure half the tambrahm readers of your blog will share an ancestor with you :)
Sang

Kamini said...

Sudha....that clock...you'll laugh when I tell you where I got it from. My mom bought it at a garage sale in the US years ago for $1!! My mom cannot resist anything for a dollar! Sorry...I know it spoils the whole story and "old props for the photo" thing...but I had to tell the truth!
Anon 1 - Yes, we are all members of Geni...but my husband tried it and gave up, said it was not as much fun as this.
Anon 2, Sang - A Tambrahm get together is crazy, I can only imagine what 200 Spaniards must sound like! What fun though....

Sarmistha said...

simply mind blowing.I read it aloud to my husband.
What an amazing discovery every part of the way.

Lakshmi -Celebrations said...

hi kamini,
lovely read.even my husband is attempting to do this,he does it on geni and that too both my side of the family and his side of the family.even when he comes to the native,he keeps on his quest..

gardenerat60 said...

Came to your blog Via color Decor. The family photograph brought me here.

Lovely photograph. Appears to be a great family!

Thanks for sharing it with general viewers.

deepazartz said...

The family photograph is what brought me here too...Love this post esp coz I have always wanted to do the same...but ne'er get enuf details. When my granpa was alive, I was behind him asking queries but I was not keen on noting them down as I was just 12-13 at that time. But looking back I feel I should have done that.
Great work,Kamini:)
Regs
Deepa from
http://www.deepazworld.blogspot.com/

Sound Horn Please said...

What a unique post K! My cousins and I spent a day drawing up our family tree after my grandad died as we were all feeling rather down and uncle came up with the idea to cheer us up. Within 2 generations we ran out of all the chart paper at home- That's how big a family we are. But I remember thoroughly enjoying myself- I know why your husband is hooked :)