Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The other day I saw a post box. Now, there was nothing remarkable about that post box to warrant a second glance but I couldn't help myself. I looked back and thought when was the last time I actually posted a letter.
I guess it must have been in Pondicherry when I was doing my MBA. Back then we were so cut off from communication that the post box was the best friend for poor students like me. In those days mobile phones were a luxury I could only dream off and only the cream of the lot had one. I remember vividly my classmate and good friend Jonah sitting on the terrace of our hostel trying to catch a clear signal so that he can talk to his folks living in Uganda. The others like me had the option of walking two kilometers to the nearest phone booth and if that was closed hike, take a bus, cycle or whatever means possible to get to the nearest PCO (remember those?) 3-4 kms away from the campus. Every incoming call to the hostel was an event in itself.
But since this post is about the post box I will come back to my writing days. I remember having a few pen friends (you are forgiven if you have never heard of the concept) to whom I would diligently write and share the happenings of life. It was a great time when the arrival of a letter meant a lot of expectations and joy. We shared our joys, sorrows by snail mail but somehow we still connected. I have lost touch with my pen friends sadly and it is mainly because I have lost my writing skills even as I furiously type on the keyboard.
Life was so simple and so uncomplicated back then. Every letter not just had meaning they also had feelings and they were so intensely personal never mind my handwriting that veered from gloriously legible to something that resembled an ECG report. But it was my letter and it had a part of my personality in it.
When I look back on those days the absence of modern communication tools like the cell phone and the internet managed to bring people closer while today we seem to have drifted further apart. Communication today is so impersonal and cold that it lacks the warmth of old no matter how attractive or comfortable it may be. No e-card can do what the good old greeting cards can, I miss those long hours browsing for cards for every memorable occasion and collecting cards received from loved ones was a pleasurable hobby in itself. Likewise special letters were treasured and retained till the termites felt hungry.
Today in the social networking world I have so many "friends" in various networks, some of whom I have never met in real, some of whom like me in the virtual world but do not even acknowledge my person in real life. And email the invention that killed letters have also disappeared. Nobody writes an email to ask me how I am doing, they ping me, text me, scrap me, call me, voice chat me. I have an email box which is full of mailers, promotions and so much more but no connect if you can understand what I mean.
As I left that place I realized that we have changed but the postbox is still there and will still be there for those who still really care.
The more we try to connect virtually the more we get disconnected...
PS: The postbox image was downloaded from the net and is not the box I saw.