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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Thursday, 21 August 2014

You say Poona, I say Pune

With apologies for the lack of regular blogging during the school holidays....  working on getting better at blog time management!

This post has been born from my attempts to find out exactly why my grandparents were in Karachi when my father was born and also when they left.  As previously mentioned, I had been reading a book about the Partition of India (1) and I knew that if they had stayed in Karachi after August 1947, they would, of course, have been in Pakistan.  However, as also previously mentioned, I do possess a postcard sent by my grandfather's sister in December 1948, when she and her family left the country. It was posted to an address in Bombay.

Well, my search has not been progressing well.  Information about either Pakistan or India for the years after the Partition is harder to come by than the details from the period of British rule - and that is not easy!

So I have decided to take a different tack and try to reconstruct some idea of their personal lives during that period.  I do have a few photos on which Nana had written on the back and I am trying to use these small clues to help me.  More of this on a future post when I hopefully have more details.

In the course of looking into their personal lives though, I thought I would also have a look at my grandparents' education.  Many of the photos I have appear to be related to my grandmother's school days so I decided to start there.

The above picture is a photo of a treasured possession of mine.  It is a bookplate that has been pasted into a small leather-bound copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  As you can see, it was presented to my grandmother in December 1935.  For Grade 8 in Cello!  A fact that I never knew until we discovered this book after her death....

Anyway, the key thing for this search is the school name and the date given in the book.  Now, the power of speculative Googling can not be underestimated when looking for long lost relatives and information about their lives.  I have found all sorts of snippets of information by just sort of "wandering" around the internet.  If you know someone's job or employer, for example, you can often get the history of a firm or at least mentions of it.  Definitions are always useful.  I came across "cordwainer" as a profession and was amazed to discover that it was  "shoemaker"!

Two tips which I have picked up (sorry if this seems basic to you, it made me happy though!) - are to 1) use AND in capital letters between items that you want to search for as connected - eg a name and a regiment; and 2) to put speech marks around complete names and phrases to make sure that only items with the full phrase come up.  I found a new entry for a relative simply by putting speechmarks around their complete name.

In fact, I did not need to look far for St Mary's in Poona.  It seems to be a very well respected school and there is quite a lot of really interesting information available.  I did though have to first of all check Wikipedia to be sure that I was looking at the right place!  As with many Indian places now, an official name change has taken place.  "Poona" is now "Pune".  If you are looking for an Indian place name, do check that the name even still exists and is spelt the same even if the pronunciation has not changed.  [Click the link for information on why names have been changed.]

The next thing is going to be to contact the school, I think.  In my genealogy dreams, they will provide me with a full school record, photos and an invitation to visit as my grandmother will turn out to have been an exceptional, honoured ex-pupil... in reality, if they do actually reply, I will be astounded if they have kept pupil records for so long.  I will update you as and when....

1. Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire - Alex von Tunzelmann,
    Simon & Schuster UK Ltd. 2007

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