It has been years since I sent anything by snail mail. I check the India Post site and find that the postcard is now priced at 50 paise but yet it costs the Postal Department more than Rs 6-00 to deliver it to the destination! There is also another one priced at 25 paise, but with an advertisement on the reverse, which means that there is just one side to write on.
This would have upset my grandfather a great deal.
Postcards and inland letters were very much the way by which we kept in touch . I can remember the postcard being priced at 10 paise . It seems strange to think that it did not really matter that the information communicated was there for everyone to read. No user name, no password!
One person who really used the postcard and got value for money was my maternal grandfather. No inch of space would be left unused on the card. He had learnt the art of writing in legible but what could be described as a 4 point font size!! At times the space above the address was used for a hasty post script despite strict instructions that said 'address only'. The addresse (quite a few times it was us) paid the penalty of 20 ps - twice the cost of the postcard.
My grandpa (Ajja) as we addressed him, would set off each day in the morning by 9. An umbrella in hand serving as protection from sun or rain. He was a popular figure in the little town. Always involved in either trying to get a youth a job in the bank or indulge in some match-making. He would trudge back home at lunch time armed with goodies that he would have picked up. After the meal he would retire to his room with the pet dog - Moti, close the door and sit at his old writing desk. At least 4-5 postcards would be written in the tiny scrawl he had mastered so well. During the course of letter writing, both he and Moti would devour some forbidden sweets and fruits behind closed doors ( he was a diabetic). After a short nap, he would set off to drop the letters in the red post-box, in time for the last clearance.
Almost every third day, this little yellow card would be delivered at our doorstep by the postman. My mother would get an update of all the news in the family and neighbourhood. His letters always started with .. I received your letter dated .....and in case you did not date the letter, the opening line would then be ... I received your undated letter. He was very particular about letter-writing etiquette.
I guess the popularity of emails has sounded the death knell for the snail mail. I wonder if Ajja would have been upset. Maybe he would have adapted to this as well. He could have started a matrimonial site, a job portal, a travel blog ( there were times he set off in the morning only to return after 10 days as he would have been roped in as a guide by some tour operator, and this at the age of 70!)
I can well imagine how popular he would have been on a social network site of our times!