Wondering Aloud: How does one locate someone in Chennai?

A couple of months ago, my father’s friend landed in Chennai. This friend, let us call him M, does not live in India and was visiting Chennai after twenty years. M had lost touch with most of his friends from this city and on landing here, set about locating them. The bulky yet handy Chennai Telephones directory was his first reference. He remembered most people’s names, though he was doubtful of the initials. After narrowing down each contact to a few probables from the directory, he called BSNL’s 197 service and managed to zero in on most of his friends in this city. That is how he located my father too.

In an earlier post of mine, when reader Thad.E.Ginathom referred to the BSNL Fraudband service, indicating how awful the Broadband connection as well as customer service were, I agreed with him. In fact, my parents are very unhappy with their broadband service. But my father insists that holding on to the BSNL phone connection has its uses. And being able to be located by long-lost friends is one such big plus.

Most of my friends either do not have a landline connection or if they have one, it is usually not a BSNL connection. While the service is much better than BSNL, none of these private phone companies have a comprehensive directory service. What happens when one of our lost friends wants to locate us, I wonder. Of course we have our email ids but they are not listed. Oh, what about orkut say some, which with all its ‘can we be frens’ is still a big help in connecting with ex-classmates, ex-colleagues and the like.

From a time when your number was listed unless you specifically asked to be unlisted, we have now moved to the exact opposite in phonedom. But on the Internet, in the Web 2.0 realm, unless you looked carefully, the default settings are broadcasting your story to the world. Still, I wonder, if Chennaivasi who is not a big Internet user, has a phone line with a private service provider, is to be located by his old contacts, how are they going to be able to do it?

7 Comments so far

  1. a (unregistered) on February 24th, 2007 @ 7:46 pm


  2. Anand (unregistered) on February 24th, 2007 @ 9:12 pm

    Not everybody you need to contact needs to be listed. It only requires a person who already knows how to contact them (with address, phone number, email etc.) that needs to be listed.
    That way, looking for old friends by reconnecting old networks is an interesting and fun process in itself. Sorta like kids communication networks from the Hardy Boys books. And anyway, if those who get a kick out of the process of reconnecting feel that the benefits of being listed with BSNL far outweigh their crappy serivce, then good for them!

  3. Navneeth (unregistered) on February 24th, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

    BSNL’s not fraudband…I’m quite satisfied with my 1.7Mbps(for the same price paid for the now passée 256kbps), thank you.

    Btw, for who those not in the know, there’s a directory service at the Chennai BSNL website, where you can search by Name/Address/Phone # (Residential and business).

    And, for those lazy enough to not look through the phone book or turn the computer on, there’s always 2847 6666.

    Coming back to toipic, I’ve wondered about the same thing, too. Not connecting with old friends, but any place of interest that does not possess a BSNL number.

  4. Navneeth (unregistered) on February 24th, 2007 @ 11:26 pm

    Obviously, I have a messed up post, because of a little HTML. >:-(

  5. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on February 25th, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

    The online telephone directory is very good, and you can find the same thing for other cities in India as well as Chennai.

    But, as the OP points out, so many individuals and even businesses no longer have BSNL landline connections.

    The Tamil naming convention doesn’t help lookups, either… The equivalent in my mother country would be trying to find the number of a guy called John. Knowing his father’s initial wouldn’t help much either.

    As for our Fraudband, I guess that is another subject altogether, but I think Anand’s smile might fade if he checks out what other countries get and for what price. Even our tiny island neighbour Sri Lanka does better that us, I’m told. More on this topic at http://www.vinuthomas.com

  6. Yuva (unregistered) on February 25th, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

    ofcourse it great to be contacted by long lost friend but if someone can almost zero-in contact details just by name — wondering about security or privacy issues ??
    is there any check n balances..? i would love to be contact by friend but no by a stranger or marketing guys.. if 197 service transfer line (instead of telling the contact#) that would be good.. i think. [/or atleast option for ‘not-listing’ in directory should be available ]

  7. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on February 25th, 2007 @ 11:09 pm

    …But names, addresses and phone numbers have been in phone books since people started having phones! Then there was directory enquiries, now on-line directories.

    The marketing guys just buy CDs crammed with data.

    Including yours and mine :(

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