Have you been to a post-office? Probably a Big No,if you belong to the Millennial Generation.
The good old post-office has all but disappeared along with the art of writing letters.When was the last time you used an inland letter or a post-card? Or have you ever used one.
Not long ago,collecting of stamps was a major hobby.Today,I struggle to explain to my son what a postal stamp is.
Have you heard of a telegram? It is like older version of a tweet. It is a short message typed on paper in Morse code and sent as an urgent message.There was a time when telegrams were exchanged when there was an emergency.I remember people at home getting worried when they received a telegram.
An urgent message like that meant some one had passed away or was in a serious condition. Telegrams have become extinct today.A few years back,the Indian Government announced that it was closing
its last telegraph office.I remember it was a big day.People lined up
at telegraph offices to send the last telegram.
Letters are also heading that way.Inland Letter and Post Cards have been nicknamed 'snail mail'. Nobody uses them anymore.
At one point of time,in many remote villages,the post-man was the only educated person who
served as the link between the villagers and the outside world.He would
read and write letters on behalf of the villagers.He also had the
additional task of handing over money to the villagers from their people
working outside.I am not sure if this situation still exists in the
villages.With the mobile phones and internet penetrating deeper and deeper
into Indian villages,I doubt if the postman is still relevant today.Even
if he is today,maybe a few years down the line,it may not be the case.
The other use of the post-office was money-order.This has also been
replaced by the use of net-banking and mobile banking these days.
I see the post-office staff being utilized for all other work except
the postal services.I even read somewhere that the government was
planning to sell pulses via post-offices.What?!
What has killed the post-office?
Undoubtedly,it is the advent of mobile phones.When you can instantly call and talk to others,who has the patience to sit and pen a letter. Even those who are not using emails and internet,have access to mobile phones.I see that almost everyone is owning a mobile phone these days.Even road-side cobblers and vegetable vendors have them.Not that they should not have.I am saying this because even people whom you would associate with very low income have a mobile phone means that it has ceased to become a luxury and has become a necessity.
In addition to mobile phones,we have social media.,watsapp,sms and what not to communicate with family and friends.This has replaced the process of sending letters and thus dealt a death-knell for the post-office.Whatever little letters and parcels were to be sent are also being done via private courier operators.
Still, there are some areas where the post-office is still relevant today.Recently,I was supposed to send a letter abroad.It was supposed to go to a post box number.Courier companies wouldn't accept it because they couldn't deliver to a post box abroad.That was when the good old post-office came to the rescue.The guy at the local post-office assured me that my letter would reach its destination in a couple of weeks.
Perhaps,it is this wide reach of the postal service that has still sustained it. Nobody knows what the future will hold for the post-office what with modern communication channels coming up one after the other.Still,my heart leaps with nostalgia when I spot that odd post-box in a crowded market-place.
Writing this so that some day when my son reads this,he will know that there was something called a post-office once upon a time.
Writing for Day 22 of Ultimate Blogging Challenge