Where have all the letters gone?


“Pyaari Asha” begins, what else, but a love letter that set me off on a rambling walk down nostalgia lane.

Picturised on the beauteous Rakhee and Dharmendra, “Pal pal dil ke paas tum rehti ho” is a sweet song with a lilting melody composed by Kalyanji Anandji and sung by Kishore Kumar. I am particular about ensuring that due credit is given to the lyricist and I call my musician friend Ram Nagaraj to confirm that it was penned by Rajendra Krishan; Ram insists that the director should also get kudos for picturisation and I am happy to include the name of Vijay Anand.

I came upon this song on TV and while watching Rakhee blushingly pick up the letter to read it over and over again, I was struck by the notion that letters written by hand, with ink on paper, seem more romantic.

It’s not the medium but the message, you might counter. After all, won’t the same words have the same significance whether you read it on paper or on a gadget?

We preserve emails and text messages too, don’t we? Hoard the nice ones, the funny ones, the naughty ones and especially the romantic lines to re-read? But honestly, when was the last time you scrolled down your messages to retrieve a feel-good message? The only time that I search through the folders is to locate a business mail.

We have all gone the e-way with wishes and condolences. I appreciate the ability to connect with friends and acquaintances across the world who send me good wishes. Emails and text messages seem a tad cold in comparison. They are brilliant for work, I could not think of going back to the days before instant communications.

My smartphone gives me inexpensive and constant access to people. Somehow, I feel that it has deprived us of the ability to truly connect. We spend so much time chatting on social networks and phones, that when we do meet people, we are unable to talk. Instant access is fun but not deeply meaningful.

Once in a while, while rummaging for something, I come across a hand-written note and I sink into the wonder of the moment. How vividly and warmly the memories come back!

And while I’m writing about letters, I have to add that my friend Prathibha Prahlad, the bold and beautiful danseuse, was recently honoured with the release of a Rs.5 stamp with her face on it.

Winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi for Bharatanatyam, she was pleasantly surprised when as a guest at a philately exhibition organised by Indian Postal Department in New Delhi, she was asked to release her own stamp. Prathibha is busy organising the Delhi International Arts Festival but more about that another day.

“The stamps are going to sell out now”, I teased my friend even as it struck me that I have not written a letter for ever so long. I must confess that I can’t recall when I last visited a post office or even the location of the nearest postbox.

I would love to know your views, so feel free to write; I would not mind an email either.

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Author: sandhya mendonca

outpouring of occasional whimsies

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