In Search Of A Letter Box and…

Konsultramesh
3 min readNov 13, 2023

The look on 40-ish Uday Veer behind the counter at the Badshahpur Post Office on Sohna Road, Haryana was as if a bolt from the blue had hit him.

The entire staff in the tiny post office inside a narrow gully with a seven by 3 feet single shutterable entrance and a cylindrical red post box hung on the wall outside stopped whatever they were busy to look at me at the counter.

I was the only customer the day after Diwali, and the wall clock displayed 1105.

What did I ask?

“Give me a reply card and an inland.”

The Post Master responded after a few seconds: “You are asking for a Card and Inland letter. Right?”

Yes.

He stood up and smiled.

Turning to one of his colleagues sitting on the floor behind him and sorting the parcels to be delivered, “Get one each,” he said.

One got up and pulled the chest of drawers in one of the counters to ferret what I asked for.

“Nahi hai,” he responded.

Post Master: “Look into the trunk in the corner.”

Again, another ‘No.”

We have somewhere. Barabar dhundo (Look properly) commanded the man with an unshaven chehara. (Later, he would explain why these unshaven cheeks. ‘We are brahmins. Don’t shave on Amavasya. And Mangalvar, Bhruspativar and Shanivar.’}

I am curious. Why do you want a card? Inland? he asked.

“I shifted to Gurugram a week ago from Greater Noida. Trying to figure out the nearest post office and post boxes in my locality. I could not find one post box so far in a radius of 5 km. …”

I halted.

He interjected.

How do you like Gurugram?

Like Prannoy Roy, I said: It’s early days!

“Nobody uses postcards or inland these days. There’s WhatsApp hai na?” Udayveer said matter of factly.

I nodded in agreement.

But what about the umpteen villages near several multi-storeyed gated communities?

Yes, they do use smartphones and, therefore, WhatsApp. If they want to write a letter to someone? And post those letters? There is no presence of the once-upon-a-time well-known red letter boxes put up on pavements at several places for convenience. What do they do? Are they supposed to come to the post office to mail them?

“Sir, nobody writes letters these days. People like you who can afford use courier service,” he replied.

He is absolutely right.

Where is the 50 paise postcard or Rs.2.50 inland letter vis-a-vis couriered letter tariff?

Am I overreacting? I don’t know.

I can arrange a post box near your society if you desire, said Udayveer.

His gesture touched me.

I declined his offer.

Meanwhile, his colleague returned with a single postcard and an inland letter.

He handed it over, and we exchanged Diwali greetings. With Udayveer, too.

Can I be assured of the postcard/inland letter delivery to my address?

100%, he promised.

The fact that no postcard or inland letters are kept at the customer counter in this government-owned post office signals the death of this British-introduced mail service.

These stationery items may be available in rural areas. Let me check their availability during my next rural darshan.

Back home, I sat down to — you guessed correctly — write to myself to check the veracity of Udayveer’s promise to deliver. Fingers crossed.

Well, I have to reach his post office to dump my letter written to me to be delivered to my address! What an irony!

--

--

Konsultramesh

An avid watcher & practitioner in the world of communication