Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | July 22, 2013

Telegrams and letters

I have not received a lot of telegrams but my limited experience brings back fond memories. I received telegrams only twice and in both occasions from my youngest maternal uncle (my Chottomama), congratulating me on my successes. First, for getting published in “The Statesman” newspaper. He sent another one when I passed the class ten school board examinations. My Chotomama passed away very young and the news of telegrams being discontinued rekindled fond memories of him.
I am sure similar to the telegrams, “Inland lettercards” and “aerogramme” would soon be a thing of past too. Prior to the introduction of email, I had written several letters to a wide-range of people. When we moved to Durgapur from Calcutta (only around 200 kilometers from Calcutta), I wrote letters to my grandmother, my uncles, my aunts, my friends, my cousins and my teachers in Calcutta. In fact, we used to buy around 25 to 30 inland lettercards/postcards at one go. I even had pen-friends who lived overseas.

My mother and I waited for the Postman to deliver letters to us. While I was excited to receive letters from everyone I wrote to, receiving airmail was indeed very special. Sadly, in comparison to the international airmails our Indian aerogramme was very dull looking!

My grandmother being the head of a big family used to write about everyone in her letter. Anyone who visited her (while she was writing the letter) and was remotely related to us, found a mention in her letter. My aunt used all the space available and very annoyingly wrote even on the cover of the Inland letter.

I used to write to a teacher of mine who was transferred from St. Lawrence in Calcutta to a missionary school in the Sunderbans as a Principal. His letters those days were eye-opener to me who had no idea how different schools would be in those parts of the country.

Further, we used to write wishes to family members and friends without fail.

Regular letter writing was enriching for me. It allowed me to express myself better, it improved my handwriting, vocabulary and most importantly despite the apparent lack of electronic gadgets I never missed anyone. Somehow there was a great deal of regularity in keeping in touch – definitely much more than today.

I regularly wrote letters till 2001/02.

These days, I write regularly to one of my aunts and occasionally to my parents. Frankly speaking, I struggle with my Bengali handwriting and spelling when I write. I don’t feel proud about it at all. However, the moment I pass a post-shop, look at the bright red coloured letter box, the beautiful stamps and the envelope with a “Par Avon” I feel excited. I feel like writing a letter, because I know it may not be for long I get this opportunity.



  1. I’m sorry I haven’t commented on your blogs for a while, Tanmoy. Doesn’t mean I don’t read every one within a day or two of your posting it!

    My students tell me they haven’t seen too many people of my generation taking to the internet with its myriad advantages – including chat and email and blogging – like a duck to the water as I have. And yet I can tell you that I feel the nostalgia for the days when people wrote long, careful letters by hand and waited patiently and eagerly for replies.I have several files full of such letters myself, now yellowing with age, and I won’t easily throw them away. You will notice I write emails as though they were letters, of which people could take printouts and keep if they want to. And you will be pleased to know that even among today’s teenagers there is still the rare kid who feels the same kind of nostalgia… so perhaps letter writing might not entirely die off even in the age of twitter! Who knows but there might even be a comeback…


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