The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jun 21, 2007

Oldest Friends

Now that the Internet has been around for, what, a couple of decades, I am sufficiently optimistic that I should be able to track down people I used to know over the years.

I started first by looking for people I knew in Venezuela. This search didn't last too long as I only remembered one friend - Gop. His parents and mine had been in touch for almost twenty-five years after those days in Caracas, but by the time I started my hunt, neither had any idea where the others were.

But Gop's name was sufficiently unusual, coupled with the fact that he had studied at a school with an alumnus association sufficiently active and web-savvy, meant that I located him with almost no effort.

Vastly encouraged by this, I began my search for friends from my Russian sojourn. This proved much more difficult. In fact, of the about ten or so boys and girls I was particularly friendly with, I only managed to find two.

The first, Kolya, lived in the same diplomatic complex as I because his mother had married an Austrian engineer. After I left Moscow, Kolya had been an assiduous correspondent, but I had been lazy in replying to his letters, so he stopped as well. I knew he had emigrated to Vienna, and in the mid-nineties, when I was a tourist in that city, I scoured the telephone directory for him or his father. But at the time, I was unsuccessful.

Around 2000, though, I found a Vienna white pages online. As luck would have it, his father's surname was unique in it; I knew Kolya called him Fritzulya, which meant that his name would be Friedrich; there were three numbers listed, I tried them all, and located his father. Luckily, he remembered the little Indian boy who had been his son's bosom buddy, and was happy to provide me with Kolya's contact details. "Goooooooooooooaaaaaal!".

Next: Nitin Budhwar's father had been a colleague of my father's at the Indian Embassy in Moscow, and he had studied at my school. He proved to be easy to find: a casual Google search did the trick. He didn't remember me when I got in touch, but he graciously replied when I sent him email. Sadly, though, he hadn't kept in contact with any of the old crowd either.

In quick succession, I sought other classmates from my school, Central Special No 14, Moscow. There were any number of matches for some of the names, but further investigation constantly led to impasses. I sent emails to several possibilities, but only one replied, and he was too old to have been my classmate. Even the school itself was untraceable; it was as though with perestroika, the school had been reconstructed too.

In general, is it more difficult to locate girls, or what? I have never quite liked the idea of women taking on their husbands' last name, and this proved to be the show-stopper in this effort as well. But surely it shouldn't have been too difficult to isolate the guys?

By this time, I had moved to the UK. Working for a telecommunications outfit near Cambridge, I chanced to meet Russian clients from Israel. They linked me up to the Russian Internet. I found that my old school had been renamed. There were some old students from there, however, who were posting to a mailing list. I wrote to them, but again, they turned out to be considerably younger than I. They hadn't even heard of my old class teacher, Lyudmila Alekseevna Ilyashuk, who certainly had continued to work there for years after my departure.

So where are you: Seryozha Trofimenko, Misha Kazakov, Nina Petrunina, Tania Mamedova, Natasha Domracheva, Ira Spiridonova, Yura Petrunin, Borya Morozov?

As I have been in constant contact with many of my pals from my stay in Jakarta, I haven't had to use the Internet to locate too many of them. Anyone I missed could quickly be traced by using friends of friends. Liselle Zamuco, though, is a tough nut to crack. I know she went to the Asian Institute of Management in Manila. What did she do after? She was supposed to be a top powerlifter in the Philippines, but there is no mention of her on the Internet. Her name appeared on a pregnancy blog site, but my email posted there elicited no response. So where are you, young Liselle?

I graduated from high school in Kathmandu, and promptly lost touch with everybody from class. This year, it is twenty years since finishing twelfth grade. Nostalgia tugs at the heart and idle fingers do the rest. It turns out that there's an alumnus webpage. But as I half-expected, it is run by enthusiastic chappies fifteen years junior to me. My emails to them resulted in courteous responses, suitably calibrated to one of my gray years. None of my classmates was at the time registered on the website.

A month later, though, I received an email from Ratan Sureka who graduated with me in 1987. He knows the whereabouts of three other classmates. What are the chances of that? I am still grinning like an ape.

Still, there are others untraced: Mamta Choudhary, Shiv Verma, Bharati Verma, Meeta Mishra, Pashmina Contractor, Preetam and Uttam Srivastava. Speak up, folks!

The Internet may yet come up trumps again...

Update: 16 May 2008
I've managed to locate Meeta Mishra now. Amazing. And, what do you know, Liselle Zamuco as well - of all places, on Facebook. Amazing-raised-to-the-power-two!


Unknown said...

Hey Budddy...Im searching fr the same ppl as u r...

Get in touch

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