Friday, January 7, 2011

The pleasure of letter writing

The pleasure of letter writing
                   insight into whether letter writing has lost it's sheen ?

I recently posted this on FB Wall of a good old buddy of mine

Me     :  What’s up bro, u look so f* up?  How many beers last night?
Reply :  WTF?  I stopped drinking from last night J ROFL ! 
Me     :  Dude, seriously start drinking, look what have you become in a day.

Out of nowhere, a sudden thought ran across my mind – Why did the primary school teachers teach us letter writing at all, when we are not using it anyway. Probably it was 5th standard or so when we had to write those stupid letters to pen friend etc. So polite official & humble, with formatting & all, as if he would receive it in whatever country he stayed & replied.

  Image credit: The Motor Cycle Diaries.

A letter back home read : 

Dear mom...Buenos Aires is behind us
Behind is as also the miserable life
The faculty, the exams and the dissertations that make you sleepy
Before us lies all of Latin America
From now on we will only trust in "La Poderosa"
                                                                               ……from The Motorcycle Diaries

           Gone are the days when letters & postal service was main medium of communications. Apart form official mails, writing a letter to a friend, relative, or to a beloved person brought joy & had its own thrill in anticipating the probable thoughts of the reader. At the other end when the post man delivers the letter, the wonderment behind the question - Whose letter is it?  fills up the mind. Excited reading of the letter like trying to read the mind of sender & replying back are yet other pleasurable aspects. You may have been on some college trip writing back home the things you liked the most, details about the places visited, or sent a post card back home - the ones which carry a picture of the place on one side. The Pankaj Udhaas song Chitti Aaye hai, Aaye hai Chitti Aaye hai, seemed so wonderful & relevant with this postal concept. 

                 With the advent of instant communications using electronic media, internet has not without a doubt brought a revolution in the way we live our lives, the way we stay in touch. Optical fibers across oceans floors & satellites orbiting earth transfer information in almost real time i.e with slight or no delay at all – certainly the most effective one. Unlimited storage mails, social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, IM- instant messengers like Yahoo & Gtalk almost eliminate the need to write a letter & post it as mail at your nearest post office. The entire aim of social networking is to bring the entire social networking experience in electronic media accessible by just being plugged into the wall from the corner of your house, Thanks to those free Sms’es & now the latest trend - twitter where people can post silly things like:  I missed brushing my teeth today LOL! etc, thereby keeping their friends updated about even most silliest thing happening in their lives. Software professionals hardly find the need to use a pen, leave the case of writing letter to someone. I don’t carry a pen around, work is mostly on office laptop & find it easy to write down any note in my Blackberry or Ipod. It's easier to maintain, paper gets misplaced every time. Apart from the Go Green campaign of printing only very essential items writing has become a passé in modern computer offices. More & more offices which used to function on paper records are now opting electronic media thus avoiding paper which is indeed environment friendly. Nobody has time these days to sit & write a letter an hour long to parents etc, even if they are not familiar with internet mailbox etc. As the Airtel advertise says truly states - Impatience has become the new life, even breakups happen over sms’es.

              At 25 paisa, post card was the commodity which retained its price for longest duration. A 1 Rupee Inland letter served the purpose well for most of the personal communications. Thanks to postal department which still connects the remote parts of India, where there is still no internet connectivity or mobile towers have not come up yet. Many TV serials feature this – a son working in city sends money order & letter about his well being to his parents back home in village & the post man all senti n stuff reads it to his illiterate parents.        

     When it comes to romantic love letters in not-very distant past, the love letters exchanged could be treasured & read over again to feel the love again, to relive the moments of their love life. Nothing beats the touch & feel - the pleasure of reading a handwritten love note from person whom you love. Perhaps this delay in communication through mail creates a romantic void, desperation, missing of each other, making them realize the depth of love between two lovers, to hear from each other, meet each other. A letter sent from a Soldier to eagerly waiting parents back home, bringing a sigh of relief hearing about their son along with making them proud. Perhaps Pankaj Udhaas singing chitti aayi hai song appreciates & glorifies the feeling behind this letter writing paradigm. Although internet era brings its own advantage of effective & faster communication, letter writing though is not as popular as it used to be. I recall a couple of instances in my life when a letter brought me utmost joy, like a reply to my query about careers in Astronomy from a noted astrophysicist Prof Jayant Narlikar & was so excited & jumping with joy when my letter was read out on DD national TV serial, Surabhi.
              I wish to fill in the ink in the old fountain pen, found in my old cupboard & write a letter once again, but wonder whom to send! don't have the addresses of any of my friends, only IP addresses are important in this era !


Vikram Pyati said...

Brilliant dude... you have captured the essence of letter-writing very well. The point about twitter is so true ( I missed brushing my teeth today LOL! .. LOL!). Letter writing really had a different charm - pity we won't experience it again in our lifetime.

Priyanka said...

Nice take on the subject.. we live in the era of information overload that we miss out on the simple things of life.. the last line is a killer :)

Unknown said...

Wow.. nice to know that your letter is read in the Surabhi! :-) Hope your blog will be shown at some prg in DD :-)


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