Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | July 4, 2009

Letters, Post Offices

One of the things that I have been doing after coming here is to start writing airmails to my Mashi (my mother’s only elder sister) and sometimes send postcards to people whom I love and they appreciate it. This gives me immense pleasure since to me, letters convey love as well care in much better way than emails can ever do. It is a pity that few people that I know write letters these days and that is why many of our post-offices carry a deserted look and customers get rude responses from the employees.

I wonder if the readers of this post can remember, when did they last write (or receive) a personal letter and from whom?

New Zealand Post Shop

New Zealand Post Shop

Post offices here though never carry shabby look at all. In fact, the first place we went after reaching New Zealand, was to a post office. We went there to enquire whether they can help me with my foreign exchange which they did with a smile and also we bought an international calling card from them. The post offices here look much like a gift shop that not only offer the usual postal services but also sell greeting cards, stationeries etc. If you enter a post office you don’t actually feel that you have entered a mess. Normally, the customers are greeted with smile and oh yes; all your queries get answered. Also, you don’t get to hear the noise that is normally associated with any Indian post office. We were very impressed when we went to the post office on our first arrival day and we continue to happily utilise their service.

Letter writing undoubtedly a dying art but nevertheless, I believe post office all around the world have been doing their best to market it. More often than not, you would see new stamps being introduced, the look of the airmail may change and also post cards being issued sometimes for free so that one is encouraged to write letters.

I was always fond of writing letters. Of course, during my youth there were no computers and internet to write emails, so letters were the only option to be in touch. In fact, I pride myself being one of the very regular letter writers but somehow with time many people have either lost interest in writing letters to me or have gotten used to the easier option of emailing.

Through letters I have received very pleasing information over the years. I still remember when I used to write to my cousin who was growing up in UK. It made me know him much before we actually met. Then I used to write to my grandmother about my friends in school and how in her replies she would always wish well for my friends and some teachers too. Some of my teachers too wrote letters to me. Father Tottham of St. Lawrence High School, when got transferred to Basanti, in Sundarban Village used to write to me in Durgapur from there. Whenever I received his letters, I imagined he must be writing this letter, sitting under faded lights and hearing all kind of eerie sounds from the nearby Sundarban forests.

I even had some penfriends from Japan and Sweden who used to send me beautiful mementoes from their country.

My father still looks forward to new stamps being released by the Indian Postal service. In India, though the lower value stamps have remained the same for ages. The same Leopard Cat, Tiger, farmer and the cottage industry doll feature on those. I am sure some of the Rupee 3 or 5 ones undergo a bit of change from time to time.

As far as writing letters are concerned, I miss my grandmother a lot who always ensured that I get replies to my letters. My mother is still quite diligent too and so is my Mashi.

In fact, I would say after coming to New Zealand, I have developed a rejuvenated bond with my Mashi through our letters to each other.

We always loved each other; we were always in touch through my parents and like I normally become like a recluse with some of my relatives (after they expose their shallowness infront of me), I never became like that with her. Despite all that, when I was in Delhi, other than a very occasional phone call, I could never really communicate with her. She has had a very tough life for a long time now (for a various reasons) and though she is not the most uptown and reasonable person that one would come across but her love for me is beyond any doubt. I love her too and always did but somehow I could feel it and express it the most only when I came so far.

May be it is because of some insecurity that all the people who love me are getting old and ill or may be because I just needed someone to write letters to (a person who does not rely on a computer and would be eager to reply) but whatever be the reason, the postal system in both countries are doing a fine job in keeping my relationship with my elderly aunt going great.

We don’t write unusual stuff on our letters though. It is the same usual mundane stuff, occasional cribbing and complaints. However, the letters come with lot of love and concern for us. Further, I understand these days many Indian post offices don’t sell aerogramme and certainly not the post office in Sodepur that my Mashi uses. She is not the fittest person on earth too to beat the sun and go to the post office thus she is dependent on others to get her the pad, envelope and stamps. Despite all these, she replies to my letters on time. I feel lot of comfort in that and send her a reply virtually instantaneously upon receipt.

I hardly can do enough for my Mashi to be honest though many things could have been done. Even with tremendous intent, I have limited means. Having said that, if I can make her feel that I care through letters, I feel a little less guilt.

I wonder would letter writing become completely obsolete when the generation which are not familiar with internet fades away. There is a huge chance of that to happen, but then one can be a little optimistic when one sees print media has not been totally overshadowed by the internet thus far. Yes, the famous men have been known better through their letters but more than anything else, letters do and should form a part of our relationship in day to day life.

Doesn’t receiving a letter give you pleasure?

Therefore, this is to letter writing and the efficient post offices around the world.



Just for my records. I want to read about Robert Kearns as written on this article later.



  1. I used to love writing letters when I was younger 🙂 There was only this one friend/cousin whom I used to write to. She and I became really close that way. She lives in Chennai now, so we just call or text each other…she’s the only one I have ever written letters to, nobody else I know seems to have the patience. But I miss it…

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