KATHMANDU, Nov 28: Snail mails: That’s what handwritten letters is referred to these days. As the term suggests, the mails are so slow in coming, it represents a snail’s pace.
The incessant messaging, uploading of photos and exchanging news (trivial or otherwise) have taken over the process of writing letters. Once upon a time, we would sit down, choose a worthy sheet of paper and mull over the news we wanted to relay.
No doubt now that today social media, emails and mobile phones are the normal choices of communication amongst the youth.
And Pukar Karki, a class 12 student of Hotel Management at Universal College, is just a normal young man. He says, “I have Facebook and my Yahoo email account where I exchange mails and news with my friends. In this age of evolving technology, it’s hard for the post office to catch up to the convenient and speedy effectiveness of the Internet.”
Letters, Pukar reminisces, were last written by him when he was in primary class. And he has never had any need to send any parcels.
What the 18 years old says next is a sentiment that a majority of youth can connect with, “Post office ta chalako bhanda nachalako nai ramro.”
However, talking to clerks at the General Post Office (GPO) at Sundhara brings in new revelations.
Sarada Poudel has been working in the GPO for three years now. She says it’s hard to believe that youths don’t use the post office when there are hundreds of them coming in everydat. “Three out of four people who visit the post office are young,” she says.
Radha Bhatta, a bespectacled lady with 34 years of experience as a postal clerk, picks up a long envelope. Pointing to the address, she says, “Young people come here to file their job applications. Most companies leave a P.O. Box address where applicants can drop their CVs. Last month, many of them came here with application letters for a certain bank.”
Sarada confirms, “Yes, it’s mostly for official work that they come here. Though there are a few letters and parcels, it’s for college and job applications that young people use the post office.”
Miming talking on the phone, Radha says, “These days, the young people do everything through their phones.”
“Around 30 young people come here in a day,” says Bimala Shrestha, taking a break from her work. She looks on as her colleague weighs and stamps the parcels. She says, “The parcels are mostly for abroad. I think most young people are sent by their parents and they come with letters, files and books for mailing. Hardly any clothes, though.”
The easy accessibility, the swiftness and the reliability of the internet cannot be denied. Where a registered letter might take a week to reach the destination, an email appears instantly in the recipient’s inbox, saving both parties a lot of hassle. But there’s an undeniable charm and excitement in receiving handwritten letters.
Receiving postcards from different places is certainly more exciting than viewing pictures on social media sites.
Understanding the importance of communicating through handwritten letters and postcards, Priya Rai, 25, has not stopped exchanging news in the old fashioned way since she was a little girl.
“I´ve been writing letters to my brother and father since my school years and I like the fact that letters can stay as part of something memorable,” she explains.
She also wrote to her friends in India and sent occasional postcards to her Thai friend. “I only wrote after long intervals because I knew it took many days, weeks even, for my letter to reach the person I was writing to. I believe if the postal system works on its reliability factor and improves its speed, then more people will be attracted and will be using it to send greeting cards or even letters.”
Currently pursuing a specialization course in Haute Couture from Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale Parisienne, Priya still writes to her brother in the US or to her relatives in the UK.