Friday, 16 October 2015

Postcards in the Digital Age

It's the 'Experience' to write a Postcard 

Prof. Mahendrasinh Parmar's experimental short story on disappearing Postcard inspired me to rethink about the Postcard. The story is titled as 'Postcard jetli (j) Varta?' It is in Gujarati language. If i have translate the title, it would be something like: 'Story, just as Postcard?'. I do not know if it captures the nuance of the short story.

Cover Page of the Short Story
We used to write letters and postcards before emails and SMS / Text messages / Social Media platforms / WhatsApp etc changed our habits of communication. Now-a-days, it is not an easy task to communicate with people through postcards. I would have not thought of writing this blog or writing postcard or even thinking so deeply(or shallow?) after reading the short story, but an amazing thing happened the next day of reading and having interaction with Prof. Parmar about the postcard.

And that is . . . i received a Postcard from a former student Ketan Bhikadiya. Paulo Coelho has rightly said in The Alchemist“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 


I thought let me reply him through postcard.

I asked peon to get me some postcards. He was surprised. I showed him the cover-page of the short story and told him to get this kind of cards in bright yellowish colour from post office. Yes, he wont be able to get postcards from any other place. Is it available anywhere else? I tried to Google it but was not able to get the destination. See, even Google do not know from where to get the postcards! ;) 

Yes, some designer postcards are available but we have to fix 50 paise post-stamp on it before posting it. By posting, i mean dropping it in the red box.

And
I wrote a postcard!
on 16th October, 2015. After almost 15 years, i wrote a postcard.
I have some fascination for ink-pens / fountain pens. So, just to feel the exaltation of writing with fountain pen, i do write dairies, official letters (where people expect typed ones), just yesterday, i wrote two Ph.D. theses evaluation reports with fountain pen. . .  and so & so.  This fascination was one spur to reply a postcard with postcard but it is certain that - had i not come across the short story, i would have not written postcard. I may have written a letter, but surely, not a postcard.

Today, there are twenty postcards waiting on my table to be written to someone. I am eagerly waiting for postcards so that i can reply with postcard. If you come across this blog and want to give me a chance to write a postcard, please drop a postcard at this address: 

Prof. Dilip Barad, 
Head, Dept. of English, 
M.K. Bhavnagar University, 
Bhavnagar - 364002. Gujarat. India

I would be glad to reply you. Please, do not forget to write your full address with clear handwriting. You know, we have forgot the habit of writing who we are and where do we live in our communications. People, these days, just start posting messages on WhatsApp or SMS without giving proper self-introduction. Most of the emails are without proper signature-note. We have our precious time is asking who the person on the other side is. So, a reminder - please write your full address, if you wish to get a reply and . . . . more importantly, give me an opportunity to write a postcard! I beseech you! Do me a favour by writing postcard.

Some concerns about writing Postcard in Digital Age

This idea of writing postcard in Digital age is a very regressive idea. Isn't it? What do you say? Humans are designed to think progressively. Going back or thinking regressively is not natural to human mind. There may be literary expressions on the dying-ness of things and human habits, but it is not possible for the humans to go back, to think regressively. It seems that it is this spirit of progressive thinking that keeps human alive on the Earth, the only Home of Humans in this uncaring, indifferent Universe. We may cite Paulo Coelho to make a point about coincidence and happenstances in life.

We may cite examples of Il Postino: The Postman (See footnote), a fictional story in which the real life Chilean poet Pablo Neruda forms a relationship with a simple postman. But in real, pragmatic life, the idea of postcard seems to be weird.

Say for instance,
Instead of typing 'hi-hello' or 'a smiley' or acknowledge receipt in form of 'Like' on mobile screen or in Social Media message box, if i write a postcard for the similar purpose, how many humans will be troubled?

The postcard which i mentioned earlier in the blog was delivered to me by a thin and lean, poorly looking postman while i was taking my class. Not only that the class / students and the teacher was 'disturbed' (we all were surprised to see a postcard and a breeze of smile spread over the class in reminiscence of the 'talk' delivered by Prof. Parmar on his story) but also the man, the postcard troubled a lot. He was all sweat, perspiring and heavily breathing as he cycled up hill to the Department. The postmen delivers their posts between 11 and 4. The countries like India are quite hot to work out in scorching sun and that too on cycle.

This is about the postman who delivered the post. There are many people involved in the process of postal communication. Like, i said earlier, i asked my peon to get me some postcards - the peon has to take pains in getting postcard and then dropping it in the Red Box. The post will be collected by somebody from the box. All such letters will be scrutinized, separated, bundled as per the destination, carried in the baggages on the shoulders of some Coolies, delivered to the destination station, from there again the entire process in reverse. So many humans hours and hard work goes into post card communication. And for what? Just for the sake of my insignificant   'hi-hello'? Isn't this entire postal system which runs on the peddles of feeble human legs, sweating out their blood, dreadfully inhuman? If a small digital device can convey the message, why should humans be engaged in such menial tasks? If cleaning of gutters, sweeping roads and similar menial tasks are categorised as inhuman and machines are invented to eliminate such work from human work list, why should we not think similarly about the work done by Postman?

Well, if one argues on the grounds of employment, like people are getting jobs, why do you want to sacrifice a few more jobs to machine? I think, that people will be requires in the offices to process the communication channels on digital platform. These postmen who are doing menial, inhuman tasks would be engaged in better working condition and will work with human dignity.
Apart from this, the time it consumes in communication can not be equated with any other loss. The speed of communication, timely communication and appropriate form of communication are very important for human happiness. It saves human lives. It gives leisure to enjoy the life. The time wasted in waiting is better utilized to enjoy the life. I do not want to say that with faster communication we can work better and we can produce better and our economy will grow at faster rate and the richness of an individual and the GDP of the country and . . . . No! A big No! It is not for economical considerations. Yes, it is getting advantage of faster communication channels. But we not born to work. We are not born to produce material things. We are not born form money. we are born to enjoy the life. And the time saved in communication and shared in communication, will give us better occasions to enjoy the life.

Even with this considerations, i would be happy to receive a postcard from you. . . and would be delighted to hand-write the reply with a fountain pen. Give me an occasion to write with fountain pen. Give me a chance to write a postcard. Waiting happily for your postcard . . . 

Waiting to write reply postcard . . .




The film is worth watching . . . Il Postino: The Postman (ItalianIl postino) is a 1994 Italian film directed by Michael Radford. The film was originally released in the US as The Postman, a straight translation of the Italian title. The film tells a fictional story in which the real life Chilean poet Pablo Neruda forms a relationship with a simple postman who learns to love poetry. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_Postino:_The_Postman)