Wednesday, 30 January 2008

MEET YOUR GREAT GRANDPARENTS - THEY LIVED AROUND 1900


Ask anyone of your family about your great grandparent's life and I bet you'll draw a blank. No details available with the possible exception - if there is a family tree somewhere - of the life span, profession and the indication where these people lived.

These great grandparents from you and me must have been born between 1890 and 1900. By all means that is not so very long ago. Nevertheless, I don't have the faintest idea what mine did. I asked my wife about hers, same answer.

I can't help thinking that's a sad state of affairs. We are not animals who vanish without trace. All these previous generations could read and write, there was paper and ink, even writing machines.

Hundred years have passed and it looks to us as if they have never lived.

To illustrate my point, I am only talking about those great grandparents. But it is absolutely sure, members of our family, yours and mine, lived somewhere when Christobal Columbus discovered America. They lived at the time of the Roman Empire, at the time of Christ and they must have been somewhere when Alexander The Great marched from Greece through Persia to India and died in Babylon.

I would have loved to know all those life stories, or at least some of them. But there is nothing, absolutely nothing.

These losses can't be made good. But at least you and me, we can do this: write down our own life story. Hundred pages or so, why not two hundred? Make copies, put it on CD-ROM, give it to your lawyer to be kept for 100 years. Who knows, maybe at that time it will be vastly interesting to the buggers living around 2110. If your text survives till then, it will be an icon, because unique. And will enter the National Library, I bet.

As to me, ay have already started some years ago. But then I stopped, because I discovered video games (Half-Life) and thought this more fun. It's a shame, ok. But the first twenty pages are on my hard disk and I wow to carry on.

13 comments:

  1. it's actually a great idea- and of course- me being me- have the idea that it is going to be imperative to do this in the digital age. all of my writing- is on the internet- able to be wiped clean at a moment's notice. i still write in a journal- i have off and on since i was a freshman in college. i don't have children but perhaps someone someday will be interested in this crazy aunt :)

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  2. Yes, Betmo, get on cracking. Humanity is waiting.

    Don't postpone till you reached ripe age of 50 or 60. Right now, you have already lived.

    We'll meet again on a sunny day in 2010.

    Georg

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  3. Hi Geogr ,
    My father draw our family tree. actually I know who was my Grandfather's Grandfather's Grandfather's Father. :)))
    I mean a man who lived 7 generations earlier than me.

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  4. My generation's life story will be readily available on Google Cache and Archive.org

    A blog here, a facebook account there, a CV, hundreds of comments on blogs and message boards...

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  5. Hi Georg,

    Among Hindus in India, there is a very interesting system of recording your family tree. There are a few centres of pilgrimage like Haridwar, where the local pundits have divided their 'duties' along well defined geographical areas, families etc. How exactly the system works, I don't know, but when you land up there, all you have to do is tell them your native place,caste and gotra(supposedly the name of the first ancestor, usually a rishi, whose descendant you are; it is patriarchal. This also serves as a sort of method to prevent inbreeding among the millions who share the same gotra, marriages between them being prohibited!).

    The local pandit of the family which has been assigned since many generations to perform religious ceremonies for you is quickly traced and does the needful pujas. Plus he records the details of your visit in the register where previous visits by you ancestors were also recorded. Straightaway, you can get to know about two to three generations. If you press hard, and promise handsome reward, you can get him to dig out old archived records too. My father was once able to get details of seven previous generations in a matter of the couple of hours that he could spare. From those records, the places of residence that the family changed were also traced till the present time.

    These days, of course, such traditions are dying out. I, for example, have gone to Haridwar too but the visit being very short, I had no inclination of contacting my family priests. So, my visit is not recorded, though my existence in the world is, thanks to the updation of records done during my father's visit.

    Your idea sounds wonderful. Sometimes, the absence of such authentic records of the past tend to distort our understanding of history. I also love thinking about my family in the remote past. It would have been wonderful to have known about it.

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  6. Hallo everybody, this is Georgyporgy's answering service:

    First Hiva: 7 generation, very good but that is exactly my point. You don't know how he looked upon life. He did not leave you the story of his life.

    Second Runnergirl: we share the same thought. all those billions of internet detail, they must amount to something. But those myriads of bits and bytes that swell and swell
    might very well render invisible your very own story. That's what I fear.

    Third Sharma: thanks for this detailed description of Indian "family treeing". I don't think we have something comparable here in the West. Maybe these pundits use hard disks nowadays for recording these data. I don't understand how they centralize these family data as your father was able to get a whole picture from different sources.

    Georg

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  7. Hallo everybody, this is Georgyporgy's answering service:

    First Hiva: 7 generation, very good but that is exactly my point. You don't know how he looked upon life. He did not leave you the story of his life.

    Second Runnergirl: we share the same thought. all those billions of internet detail, they must amount to something. But those myriads of bits and bytes that swell and swell
    might very well render invisible your very own story. That's what I fear.

    Third Sharma: thanks for this detailed description of Indian "family treeing". I don't think we have something comparable here in the West. Maybe these pundits use hard disks nowadays for recording these data. I don't understand how they centralize these family data as your father was able to get a whole picture from different sources.

    Georg

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  8. Kudos to you for taking on a project like this. I think my younger brother and an uncle are working on one too. I had the opportunity when I was younger to meet my great gramma on my dad's side (great grampa passed before I was born). They had owned one of those small stores with the apartment around back. I remember a long counter in the shop and some farmer's tools but not much else. My great grampa on my mom's side worked in a meat market. It was owned by him, his dad and his brothers I believe. I dont know much about great grama on that side. I think that part of the family had lived in England. Grama and grampa on mom's side were the first of the family to move to America.

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  9. Georg,
    What a wonderful post! I, by some accident of nature, am the keeper of keys for my family tree. I have the letters and diary's of 4 generations, not including myself.I have been blessed with photo's, paintings and keepsakes of my family. It falls to me to keep this inheritance up and to continue the oral recitation that was my Grandfathers gift to me.
    You should place the videos on hold from time to time and continue with your journals. You are a wonderful writer, full of life and wit, Antiquity would benefit from your legacy.
    Thank you for this...

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  10. Thanks for comments, It is wonderful to be answered from so far away:

    To Ladystyx
    We seem to be on the same level as far as grand-parents are concerned. A pity to know so little about probably very troubles times.

    If you have some more time to spare: why did you choose this particular name. As far as I know the River Styx - in Greek mythology - marks the border between the Underworld or Hell and the earth where we are living.

    To Sorrow (Eleven)
    You have a kind to treasure at home. Do you have projects about it. I mean to edit the older part and publish it somehow? On your own website, from time to time for our all benefit.

    Thanks for telling this, it is a pleasure to hear it.

    As to me, the video game frenzy has somehow passed and I think I'll go on soon. Right now, I stopped at my sixteenth year. A lot of time to cover.

    Georg

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  11. I was lucky to hear my parents tell stories of their grandparents, and I suppose their grandparents told them all about their parents, and what their childhood was like. I can go back to about 1800 knowing kind of what they all were like, besides knowing their occupations and interests. Family Bibles took us back and old papers, letters etc.. I collected it all, and made little notebooks for family members-- I guess I should put one on CD rom

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  12. I know quite a bit about my ancestors, maybe 4-5 generations back, before it turns into myth.

    I know about my mother's side of family more that my fathers.

    I know about my ancestors because my grandparents told me and because they had heard of their own grandparents. Oriental families are very close, and Persian ones do take a great care of keeping track of their breed!

    Mine, is undoubtedly mongolian :)

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