Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bharatiya Daak

I have sung the praises of the phone service quite often. But not so much of my postman- we dont meet too often, and when we do he is a little snobbish.

But now I am talking of the Indian Post as a whole- and they sure do deserve praise. Yes, there are inefficiencies, and with e-mail and courier, the post is fighting a losing battle against changing times- or so it seems in the urban areas.

But I was in the hills on that geology trip of mine, and we stopped for chai in a village called Rauton ki Veli. It is the largest village for miles around, but it is not much, really. It is just that this village is on the main road. There are tens of other villages scattered about on the hill slopes. Visiting one means a trek of several very steep miles.

And the postman visits each and every one of these. This is important everywhere, but much more so in a remittance economy such as one finds in the Himalayas.

Then there is what the post means to the villagers. For many, it is the only means of communication. I dont know about here, but among the villagers I have spoken to, going to the village post office to save a bit of money or to send a letter to a husband in the town is a simple but important assertion of self.

I love the picture of the woman here. I love that she has come alone from her village and that she is not relying on a thumb impression, but signing her name.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

not a losing one-
at the pune GPO, one can write an email, it reaches the other place right away; then, someone prints it out and delivers it to the addressee and she can read your email even if she does not own a computer!
the very Catholic Indian post, not only embracing new technology here, but also marrying it to a traditional way.. isn't that something?

thanks for this post. it brought many things for me.

a song-
unlike the woman in your photograph, this woman cannot read and write so she tells the postman, who as you know in may villages even writes your letters for you-
kore kaagaz pe likh de naam Babu,
woh jaan jaayenge

she's too shy to dictate her message so she tells the daak-babu to just write her name on a blank paper-
her man will know what she wants to say.

a poem in school which my Goan catholic teacher insisted be sung in a tune which she had set-
well, 'borrowed' from a hindi film song really,

a few months ago, almost 30 years after she made us repeat it ,
i found myself humming it.

thanks, Chicu.