Last of the Letter-cans

This was found in a local settlement in a corner of Darjeeling, where a friend of mine and I wandered off to, after a disappointing sunrise trip to the much hyped Tiger hill. I just got it developed, and my first reaction after seeing the photograph was we don't use or even get to see them often anymore!

When I was a kid, I remember receiving letters from my aunt regularly, who lives in Durgapur, a town about three hours away from Kolkata by train. We would be amused by the way my uncle would try to squeeze in a few extra words, utilizing the borders. And of course, the signature signing off – “Aar bishesh ki?” or “What’s special happening?”. I remember buying onion skin paper (extra light) when we had to write to a cousin abroad.


Not that I can boast my letter writing skills. In my family, letters were always a group activity, with a specific order to follow. My mom would invariably start the letter, and use the chunk of writing space, detailing everything I would have ever wanted to say plus some. Then it would be my sisters reinforcing the important points. Then the dreadful time would come when I had to write “a few words”. I would think for minutes, and then come up with something which translates:

Hi XYZ,

Please accept my regards. How are you? We are fine.

Regards

My nickname

I was never scolded for my lack of imagination though. It was always the handwriting! And on special occasions, when I tried to write an extra line or two – the spelling!

Unfortunately, no one sends us letters anymore. My aunt calls local. My cousin exchanges email. More than her, her daughter – my pre-teen niece writes email. Even my mom has her cell phone now. I haven’t been to the post office in ages! The only “letters” that come to me are my credit card statements, insurance premium receipts, bank statements, utility bills, and promotion offers. It seems the art of letter writing is lost, this time for good. Unless…

17 comments:

Bhaw said...

:) i used to wait for the postman to deliver letters in the afternoon ... and the effort that was taken to glamorize those letters - i mean with fancy stickers and highlights.. I also have run to the post office a number of times when i have forgotten to put the stamp to catch the postman before he takes all the letters.. hehehe

Days of inland letter are over.. Miss those days !

Butterfly said...

You won't believe this,but even our letter box in broken! Letter boxes are supposed to be covered, with the person's name written on the front side. But our letter box has lost its cover with my parents' name written on it. But, no one really cares. Coz we don't need the letter box anymore.
This was a very good post from you. Had a good theme.:-)

Anuradha said...

hey great pic and post !

this reminds me of the days where i would wait eagerly for the letter from my dad posted in the front or our there in the warzone. phone calls use to be too expensive those days and there were no sms/email either!! The only means of keeping touch.

I treasure those letters and have a bunch around from those days that my dad wrote and also the ones mum wrote when i moved out of home.

Letters were so common even a decade back, there is something so personal about letter writing .

These days i get a few letters from my mum with attachment-, newspaper cuttings that she wanted me to read..but then now even most of those are avail in the online paper version..

Anuradha said...

and also takes me back to the school days where i had couple of pen friends from across the world, and how we exchanged thoughts/ideas/pics/stamps :) , no orkut/email but still found time to pen words and post it !

Aarbee said...

Firstly, the picture has a very real kinda feel to it. I like it!
Two in a day - not bad! :D

I know what you mean! Maybe I can't quite feel it the same way, but even I have lived some part of my life in that age. Cousins living in other cities were such nice souls - they wrote letters to us! And I remember very well that my last attempt at writing a letter was quite a task. I wonder if schools still teach letter-writing to little kids.
Hmm...aapke saath saath mujhe bhi budhape wali feel aa rahi hai. Not nice! :P

*`Simple Is Beautiful~* said...

lol u did that? hehe. mom never told me THAT. you sent letters to WHO in durgapur? mom did tell me tho, abt the time when u guys were rlly young and mom and buchai wanted to do a neighbourhood play and all, and you kept laughing throughout the rehearsals and wouldnt stop so she 'fired' you. sigh...i was laughing at the stupidity of it all. heehee. it was great to hear tho.

ok bb now!
~iman

Subhadip said...

@Bhaw
Fancy stickers and highlights! Totally!

@Butterfly
:) Do they still teach letter writing in schools?

@Anu
Finding time is the key, I guess. Time to join the slow movement?

@RB
Budhapa? What are you talking about?

@Iman
Mejdimashi(your mom's and my mashi - your dida) stays in Durgapur. Have you been there?
And, hello! You are not supposed to spill out embarrassing secrets out here.

Anuradha said...

since y wrote about letters, not sure y have read the book '84 charring cross roads' .. its really nice. !

Rohit Talwar said...

Old age. Sigh. STOP thinking of what you used to do. Whatsay? :P
There is nothing unfortunate about it, as I see it.

Somehow the only writing receiving/giving out I know has been in the form of book notes or cards. But letters? I remember seeing Nanu write to his friends and cousins abroad. And I would ask him always, "why don't you just call them!" I mean, it's quicker and all that... But then he used to smile. That's all.

Rohit Talwar said...

And yeah, never had pen friends or anything remotely marvellous as that. I guess I would never know what it is like...

Kanu said...

That is plain rude...Art of letter writing gone....no letters eh?


hmph

~ Deeps ~ said...

good pic
first human discovers/invent something, then get excited by its use, loves it so much that it changes the old ways and after sometime laments the fact that it has changed life so much :)

pretty much same with everything new change that comes up.........

Subhadip said...

@Anu
Nope. Haven't read the book / seen the movie. Adding it to my list.

@Rohit
There is a whole generation gap happening here... not the right place to discuss.

@Kanu
Hey.. didn't mean to omit your letter and gift and be rude. It was indeed a very pleasant surprise. I should have mentioned it here, that exceptions are still there. Can I write a letter back to you with my apologies?

@Deepak
True. Not lament though. It's more like being nostalgic.

burf said...

hey subbu bro

whats your gtalk id

add me - jetushar@gmail.com

Butterfly said...

Oh Yes, letter writing is still important in English Grammar.:-)

Kanu said...

hmm.....If you intend to follow your usual letter writing instincts...;)

No issues pal...it was a great post and I have to say...people are loosing the whole idea behind a letter and I so dearly love writing letters...

Apology accepted.

Subhadip said...

@Burf
Done bro.

@Butterfly
Nice. Just remembered the good old Wren and Martin.

@Kanu
Naah... I will write more than that... promise.