You’ve got mail.

               A week ago, hubby gifted me a new phone so that I could install the latest communication application, Whatsapp. Yeah, my old IPhone could not install this most loved app for free! I cringe in embarrassment as I mention that I gave away my dear IPhone just to bring into my life an entity that has proved to be a pain in the neck, head, ear, you name it. Yeah, there are times when I look forward to getting pinged by  friends and reading their messages or some inane jokes. But, the happiness is short lived. How long does it take to read a one-line message made up of abbreviations and emoticons?  At such times, I remember our old, out-dated form of communication — the letter, sent and received via the humble postal services.
            Some days back, my friend Shailaja also spoke about it and sowed the seed of letter-writing in my mind. It brought about a flurry of memories of my adolescent life, when everyday on returning from college, I would check the mail-box for a letter from a cousin or a pen-pal. And, the sheer joy on finding one was incomparable! I remember, how we wrote lengthy letters to each other. Then, there wasn’t much to life, as it is now. There was college and studies and friends; maybe a movie or two thrown in for weekends. But, our letters would have so much material in them, that reading those would take a long time. I have treasured those letters from all those years ago and go through them every now and then, reliving those wonderful days of simplicity and an uncomplicated life.
           Today, Facebook helps us meet old friends and strike a fresh bond with them, resulting in exchanging of messages. The messages are longer than in Whatsapp, but, there is something missing there, as well! The feel of the paper, the smell of the ink, the eagerness to slit open the envelop are all missing. The writers spoke through their handwriting, each one exclusively different from the other.  Those colourful letter pads, the Inland letters we bought from the post offices, the post cards, all of which we used to pour our hearts out, are all missing. And, all of these  can not be found or felt even in video-calls, or should I call it, Skype?
         Writing this post has strengthened my resolve of beginning to write to friends and cousins and enjoy the joys of writing and receiving letters. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but that’s how I am! All I will have to do is coax my darling friends and cousins to shed off their laziness and write a letter in response. Just once. And, then tell me how they felt. I am sure some will like it, even enjoy it!
        So, friends and dear sisters reading this post, wait for my ping on Whatsapp for an invitation to experience a forgotten tradition from our childhood.  Go out, buy some of those lovely letter pads and pens (yes, you will need to buy those as well!) and get ready to dash off a heart-warming  letter and relive a few moments of  that bygone, golden era!
       And, stop making faces!

26 Replies to “You’ve got mail.”

  1. Great post, Shilpa! I am so in favour of reviving snail mail. I love letter writing and these days I am into making my own cards and love to send them to friends and family. Hope your card gets to you soon as I sent it last week. It makes my day getting a letter that isn't junk or a bill. It makes that long walk along the windy, cold, barren highway with big trucks roaring past all worth it!

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  2. I am so glad I was an instrument in some small way. I am all for going back to traditional ways of communication. They are the stuff of legends- those long letters, the emotional outbursts, the delightful details, the long-winded rants- all take on new meaning when put down on paper. Once I am back on FB, I will initiate the thread regarding letter-writing as promised 🙂 Hugs for a beautiful post!

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  3. I used to write letter to my school friends when I was doing engineering as I was the only one who went away from them. I was never tired if writing and never ever tired of waiting to receive the reply letter. Unfortunately my friends were kind of lazy in writing letters. But I used to write so much to each of them that out of shame finally they used to write me back. Once I was stepping out of hostel and saw the post man coming, I ran towards him to collect my trophies (it was during xmas- new year time) my ankle twisted and I fell and got hurt. Next 3 weeks I couldn't walk. But still the joy of receiving greeting cards and letters was worth the pain. One of my friends recently took a snap of my old letter and whatsapped me. How mushy was I!! Aahh the memories.! 🙂 great post, Shilpa.

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  4. ohh I love writing… I love the curves of my handwriting 😛 you won;t believe I used to draw a comic strip of my bestie everytime I sent a letter to her 🙂 Good old golden days 🙂

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  5. ahh penpals..so many memories. there are no pen friends anymore I think. and letters to friends, cousins, uncles, aunts.. i have also kept the whole stash, ready to be savoured anytime.

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  6. Not that I don't appreciate modern-day connecting, but when someone send me a letter (rare) or a greeting card (more likely) I have this crazy grin on my face that I can't seem to wipe off all day. It means so much more as I feel that they cared enough to take out the time to do that. I have let writing letters slip through the cracks. This post makes me want to start again. Thank you.

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  7. Couldn't agree more with you. I miss the joy of ink on paper and I often send hand written Greeting Cards to friends during New Year since it has a unique human touch. The joy of reading a letter by someone pouring his or heart cannot be equated by e-stuffs:)

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  8. I so enjoyed this sentence – “How long does it take to read a one-line message made up of abbreviations and emoticons?” 🙂 I don't use LOLs and all that silly spelling even when writing on what'sapp or SMS or email etc. I don't mind a few more keystrokes on the keyboard! Anyway, I am not sure if I am going back anytime soon to writing old-fashioned letters but I do have a habit of writing long, long emails to close friends. Not very regularly but frequently enough to stay in touch. So same thing, I suppose. Enjoy the letter-writing and letter-receiving experience 🙂

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  9. It's a bit of mixed bag for me, Shilpa. While I enjoy writing the old fashioned way, the time constraint and the effort (yes, I'm lazy!) of having to go post it or courier it – that kind of puts me off. Of course, I still do them for special occasions. Or when I have to courier or post something else, it is kind of the norm for me to include a hand-written letter in it. But yes, I also like the fact that technology has made communication a lot easier and the world a much smaller place. We'd never have met if it wasn't for communication through technology.

    That being said, I try and avoid smilies – unless it's in a chat. And use very few abbreviations.

    Thought-provoking post, Shilpa. Enjoyed reading it.

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  10. In school and college, I was so much into writing letters to cousins and friends and had 2 international pen pals too. All this writing a letter and waiting for the postman came to a stop till some 3 years ago when my son went to a boarding school. It is mandatory for us to write letters to each other every week. So letter writing is back in our lives. Though he posts it by Indian Post, we can courier it to him.

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  11. Thank you, Cathy!
    Since the time you told me you have posted a card for me, I have been waiting with bated breath! Your card will sure make my day special! I always dreamt of having many pen pals during my youth. Guess my dreams are getting fulfilled!

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  12. You said it, Shailaja! They are the stuff of legends! How true! How much the future generations are going to miss this tradition!!! Glad that you started the idea. Hope it catches like wild fire and revives this forgotten art!

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  13. Thanks Vinitha!
    I loved reading about your letter writing experiences of your college days. It sure is wonderful reliving those beautiful memories, isn't it? I liked the idea of your friend….whatsapping the snap of an old letter to you. I think I am going to do the same to my cousins and wait and watch their response! 🙂

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  14. Wow, Rajlakshmi, a comic strip with a letter? Must have been fun! I too used to share my drawings with my cousin sis….and in return receive her amazing pictures! Ah! Those were the days! Golden days, indeed!

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  15. True, Ls, there are no pen friends anymore. There are net friends, with whom sharing a hand written letter must be a dream for people like us! 🙂 Isn't it fun to go through those old letters! 🙂

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  16. Shilpa, we not only share names, we share stories from way back!!! You are so lucky you have letter writing back into your lives! I am sure the postman must be feeling equally lucky ! :))

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  17. Thanks Beloo!
    Yes, I plan on enjoying this long forgotten tradition. But, first will have to warm up my writing skills..as in writing with a pen, as against typing on the keyboard! My fingers have almost forgotten what it is to hold a pen! 🙂

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  18. True, Sid, technology has made the world a smaller place and brought people closer, but it has taken away something as pure as letter writing…the old fashioned way. But, now I am going to try and revive this 'dying art' and give myself some moments of incomparable happiness that I used to experience ages ago! 🙂
    Thank you for finding the time to read my post, Sid!

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  19. I used to have one pen pal, though I also used to write a number of long-winded letters to friends and family too I think! 😉 It is always a delightful pleasure to receive a handwritten note – better than my handwriting hopefully – that was especially intended for you. So fun to read and treasure! Such memories! 🙂 ❤

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