Aspi Antia, a Mumbai resident from the Parsi community, last met his maternal cousins in Surat, almost 40 years ago. Over time, the families lost contact and though 60-year-old Antia tried to locate his cousins in the past few years, they had changed their residence and he was unsuccessful. “During community gatherings, I would ask other families if they know them and where they are. I couldn’t recollect their last name but still tried to find them on social networking sites,” he said.
On one occasion, someone told him that one of his maternal cousins stayed at Pedder Road. He visited the address to find that they moved out in 2009. He was desperate to track them down. “I urgently wanted to talk to them about a property in Surat,” said Antia, CEO of the NGO World Zarathushti Chamber of Commerce.
One day, a friend’s daughter suggested that he use themissingparsi.com, a new Parsi community website. He gave the website a shot. “Within 15 days, a woman from the US called me claiming to know someone in Mumbai whose details matched my cousin. I called up the number and it turned out to be my second cousin,” said Antia.
The website, started by Ader Gandi and Yazdi Tantra, reunite members of the Parsi community. “The idea struck me when I started getting requests from people asking about fellow Parsis they wanted to get in touch with.
Unlike social networking sites that have billions of profiles and hundreds of people with the same name, finding a Parsi friend or a cousin is much easier on the website, as it’s exclusively for the community,” said Gandi, who along with Tantra also run community e-zine The Parsi Chronicle.
The portal that started in October 2005, initially received a lukewarm response. However, the traffic on the site picked up in the past six months and now sees at least 10 posts per day. “Almost 50 per cent of the cases are solved through some connection or the other. You may not remember what the person looks like or their full name, yet the website allows you to post other details that can help people locate them,” Tantra says.
The Parsi community, despite being small, is spread across the world and this site helps the small community stay connected to each other.