A telephone Directory is one of the most useful tools of information in communication. In the modern era where most information is stored digitally or online, the importance of printed directories is sometimes overlooked, as are its relevance and benefits.
The most obvious benefit of the LPSUK Directory is that it is a useful resource when looking for phone numbers and physical or postal addresses. Whilst most people do have a smartphone in which contact numbers are stored, it is less likely that we always have people’s addresses, which is incredibly important when visiting extended friends and relatives, be it because you ‘happen to be in the area’, are attending a ‘joyous’ event or are wanting to ‘pay your respects.
The Directory is a tangible reminder, that we are part of a wider, much extended family unit, which geographically spreads nationally (and internationally), incorporating several generations of people whose ancestors all had foundations in three particular districts of Gujarat, namely, Surat, Navsari and Valsad. The sheer size of the Directory is a significant visual reminder of how much that family has grown and diversified and is a physical celebration of how far and wide LPS has reached.
In the midst of the recent CoVid pandemic, there have been heart warming stories of how the dust has been cleared off the Directories and people have reached out for it to re-connect to old friends and distant family members, to support one another through isolation, hardship, bereavement, relationship challenges and to obtain and provide careers advise. Young and old, when the world told us to stay home and stay away from loved ones, we were able to stay connected with those who might not be in our phone list, but were still in our hearts and on our minds. For many of the older generation, who are not tech savvy, the Directory was akin to a lifeline. They thought of the people they came to this country with, the cities and towns in which they lived, worked, and brought their families up in. Nostalgia kicked in. Whilst many people were busy juggling working from home with home schooling, or playing their parts as Key Workers, there were many who were alone, isolated, shielding and physically and mentally vulnerable. In these dark hours, we received countless stories of how people trawled through the pages of the Directory and reconnected with long lost family and friends, hours of conversation on the phone which passed long lonely hours through reminiscing, laughing and crying together and endearing promises to stay in touch.
There is clearly a demand for an updated directory with many regions members’ young and elderly asking ‘when will the new version be released?’. Many regions have had an increase in new memberships, which are related to, interest for inclusion in the directory.
Story 1 - At the funeral of a widow Baa residing in London, our Trustee Preeti Patel had the opportunity to meet the son of the Baa who had sadly passed away. He himself is based in Hong Kong and his siblings are based in USA. At his mothers funeral, he shared a story of how he struggled to get hold of his mum as her line was always engaged as she kept herself busy with her Diary, which he described as her ‘life line.’ He thanked the London Samaj and LPSUK for providing such a tool and for caring for her whilst she was on her own.
Story 2 - Whilst re-organising a book case, the LPSUK VP was asked by her then 4-year-old daughter Ayaana, what the Directory was. Seeing pictures of Gods and deities, she assumed it was a religious book. Her mummy explained in simple terms that it was in fact a phone book, with names and addresses, ages and professions of people in their ‘Samaj’. This lead on to further questions like, ‘what is a Samaj’ and ‘what are ancestors.’ What ensued was a near half an hour conversation of questions and answers. Ayaana was also asked to pick any family member, and shown how to locate them in the Directory. The conversation ended with more questions, like, ‘wow, are all these people in my family, that’s amazing’ and ‘can you take me to where Dada was born in India’ and ‘can I take this book to school to show my friends?’