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Reclaiming Our Love for Snail Mail (by sending out 52 parcels in 2015)

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How long was the longest letter you’ve written to someone? Mine was 16-page (A4) long. I wrote it to my brother who was studying Engineering in another town. I missed my one-on-one conversations with him so much, I would write each and every thought in those letters. And, the best part was – he was a snail-mail/writing-enthusiast too. So, we wrote epic letters to each other. In the middle of all this, our postman was the one who enjoyed the show the most. He would at times take the liberty to ask me what I wrote, what reply did I receive, how do I find the time to write so many letters when I have academic books to study and homework to take care of.

In Pari, I have found a letter-writing enthusiast. She’s always been. Even at the age of three. That was when I bought her a beautiful leather-bound spiral notebook that she could use to scribble. She decided to use each page in that red notebook to write letters to family and friends.

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And, she wrote and how! Wrote many letter – to her grandmother (my mom and Avie’s), to Micky Mouse, to Santa Claus, to a friend and many more. Sadly, we weren’t able to post many of those letters because the postoffice wasn’t an easy thing to do. Well, in Indian cities, there’re too many things that aren’t easy to negotiate. Simple tasks become complicated due to traffic, heat, pollution, long queues at government offices. And then, my own inertia.

Now, in Goa, the post office is a 5-minutes walk from home and there’re no queues. The head postman is mostly free. So, whenever we go, we ask him questions out of curiosity – about his work, about stamps, national and international rates for normal post versus registered post versus speed post. Then, we take our own sweet time to decide which mode should we opt for.

So, we’ve been taking full advantage of this resource. We’ve been sending letters, cards, hand-made gifts, crafts – to our family and friends all over the country. International is not too economical, but I’m tempted to start that too.

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Over the past few weeks alone, we’ve sent many parcels – small and big. Embroidered cards, old boxes given new lease of life with shells and paint, small packets of hand-made soaps, wedding cards renewed into recipe cards. And, there’re are some more parcels in the line.

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That said, all these things we’ve sent so far seem nice and sweet and sane. Sane? Well, yes, now I feel like sending something odd and surprising and whacky. Something that would startle the receiver, make him/her wide-eyed, make him/her laugh out loud. Like, my friend, Laura Grace Weldon wrote in this interesting article about sending snail mail – how about sending something unwrapped. This is possible in the U.S. and may be other countries I don’t know. Not sure of it’s possible here in India. If it is, I do want to try this out.

Finally, I want to take this snail-mail passion very seriously. This is what I want to do next with Pari – for the next 52 weeks. I want to send out at least one parcel in a week. It could be a letter written on anything else other than a normal paper – our own handmade paper, a leaf, a T Shirt. We can always send handmade gifts but we also want to try out an eatable, plant, seeds, dried turmeric from our yard, pictures, art journal page, a story, a newspaper cutting, a recipe (we’ve already sent one). Or, it could be something relevant to what the receiver is doing at those times – collecting stamps/coins, is interested in movies, wants to learn about crocheting. We can be the helper/researcher in his/her project.

Imagine the learning connections and the heart connections we would make this way!

I can’t wait. What ’bout you? Do you like to keep the postman on his toes too?

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  • Madhu January 7, 2015, 10:56 pm

    Rashmie, I absolutely loved the seashells stuck to the candle holder. As a matter of fact, my daughter Megha and I also did a very similar one. Whats more interesting is that the sea shells look so similar to the one’s that you used. I know, I know, sea shells all over the world look alike but believe me, my sea shells look identical to yours (the soft one’s with maroon pattern on it)! I guess it could be because I picked those sea shells at the Calangute beach in Goa.

    Now to the mails….For the longest time I had a pen friend. That was way back in college and I was in a convent. For about 2 years we exchanged letters; every week. Then the ‘sister’ there was afraid I would fall in love with this guy and promptly told my parents who in-turn made me stop.

    After that, not many letters. Though here and there I did write letters. And then when my daughter was born, I made a post card out of her picture and sent it to all my friends and family, thanking them for wishes, introducing my daughter and also inviting them over.

    Good luck with the snail mail!

    • Rashmie January 13, 2015, 11:25 pm

      What a lovely coincidence, Madhu – our shell art. Last month was the time when pari and I were engrossed in converting all boxes and bottles into shell artforms. We were doing nothing else but this for days together. We would go to the beach only to collect shells when we ran out of it.
      It’s sad to know you were made to stop writing letters to your friend. Gosh.. I feel like venting my heart out here, but I’ll hold back.
      That gesture of yours – to send a picture postcard of your daughter to all your close ones – is precious. What a beautiful person you are, my dear Madhu – full of kindness, thoughtfulness. Really. Pari and I are blessed to have a long-distance, email friend like you. Hope to meet you soon enough in person too. Hugs…