Erasing the Envelopes

Letters in the era of electronic text


April 18, 2018

/ By / New Delhi


In the digital age, quick taps on the QWERTY communicate implicit thoughts and opinions, thus leading to a major decline in the shipment of personal mails with glued stamps via the postal service.

A girl excitedly tore the brown paper away to grasp at a sheet of paper inscribed with an awaited script, not concealing her delight from the postman at her doorstep. Why should she? The letter had travelled miles, past ports and many coarse hands, to deliver love which was spilling at its seams.

Words are powerful, even more so when they are stringed together to deliver emotions and thoughts. A medium of distant communication, handwritten letters, postcards from scenic destinations, couriers with odds and ends, convey a personal touch when received.

The Envoys’ Anecdote

With the motto ‘Dak Seva Jan Seva’, meaning postal service is social service, the government operated department of posts, India Post, has been operating for 163 years now. The trade has seen many highs and lows through the years, but has always adapted in marked mediums, connecting with the Indian audience by offering facilities like money ordering, banking, postal savings, postal life insurance, and now an e-commerce delivery system as well, with provisions for pre-paid as well as Cash On Delivery (COD) parcels.

Numerous other private Indian delivery networks for national and international distribution have also prospered, like Blue Dart Express Ltd., First Flight couriers, DHL Express, Gati Ltd., which service and handle a large portion of the dispatched packages.

Scientifically, teleportation through technology hasn’t been successfully hatched yet, thus the easiest way to transfer material products is still the courier service, but personal mailing has almost died, and only a few still tend to the dying embers of letter writing.

Collectibles from Town



An old postcard with greetings from Calcutta (Kolkata, West Bengal)

Earlier when a traveller arrived in a scenic destination, sending a postcard was the apt way to share his or her experience of the place with distant friends. Nowadays, the number of Instagram likes on your latest travel post is of more consequential significance.


Released to commemorate India’s first flight


Honouring Swami Vivekananda through an illustrated stamp

Inside leather journals with discoloured spines, numerous postage stamps are conserved pristinely under synthetic films by rare philatelists who caress the history of India through them. The postal stamps of our country showcase beautiful illustrations which honour notable people, highlight events of national importance, or sometimes focus on symbols of national pride.


A Worded Cacophony

With the rise of electronic communication, the transmission of personal thoughts has become a password protected chronicle and the art of writing letters and treasuring correspondence is quickly fading as a result.

The strokes of a pen or stylus writing a letter- soft in love, sharp when aggressive, mellow in the calm, messy when distressed- mirror the feelings of the sender, more than digital emoticons ever will. Boxes filled with ageing envelopes, antique stamps and overflown words, tell the tale of heartfelt relations, be it father-daughter, like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s correspondence ‘Letters from a Father to His Daughter’ or between lovers, friends and family.


“But the postmaster now watched them as eagerly as though each contained a warm, beating heart. He no longer thought of them in terms of envelopes and postcards. He saw the essential human worth of a letter.” (Dhumketu’s story ‘The Letter’)

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