Letter Writing!

My friend Milind runs an NGO where he arranges for children to indulge in art. He also believes that we are forgetting the art of letter writing and has produced some picture post cards for his friends and family so that they can recommence writing letters. I have sent for some postage stamps and have every intention of sending a few off to some discerning friends who will appreciate the art in the cards as well as the attempt to revive the art of letter writing. A few may even suffer strokes out of sheer shock of receiving a post card after so many decades.


Another friend Unni an occasional blogger has just written a post on letter writing where he talks about the Inland letter form that used to be very popular during the letter writing years. Like his father, many used to write on the flaps too as there was inevitably so much to write. I distinctly remember my mother doing so almost without fail on every letter that she wrote to me.

During my bachelor days, many “love letters” were also indulged in. It is a pity that I don’t have any now to read again!

Talking about letter writing, my father inevitably addressed his letters to me with my academic achievements included in the address after my name as BA, MBA. On one occasion, I had the mortification of a postman delivering a Registered Letter to me asking for Bambaji. (Indian form of respect to attach ji to one’s name instead of Mr. before.) My very mischievous nephew Jai went one step further and started to call me Bamba Mama. (Mama being Indian for maternal uncle}


Do you write letters and post them either in a post box or in a post office?

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21 Responses to Letter Writing!

  1. tammy j says:

    after the last hospitalization and reaction to a blood pressure drug I developed an essential tremor in my right hand of course! the one I write with. sometimes just keeping the spoon or fork from shaking too much is enough to drive me mad. but I used to love to write. always in a journal. and my mother and I kept the postmen busy all the years we lived far apart. and I have beautiful love letters from Bob when I was in NY once for a couple of months. I’m so glad I kept them!
    and to think here in America anyway… there is a new wave of educators to do away with teaching cursive! it’s a shame.

    • Ursula says:

      Sorry to hear about your tremor, Tammy. It is infuriating. Particularly if people offer you a Bloody Mary at ten in the morning to stop “the shakes”. Shakes? What shakes? A cup of coffee is enough to set me off – barely visible but, as you say, just about enough to make my writing jittery too. And yes, I haven’t drunk coffee in years.

      You paint a lovely picture of your letter/journal keeping days. There is something so very moving digging out old letters; not so much, necessarily, about their content though that too but recognizing someone’s handwriting.

      As to doing away with cursive writing and not teaching it any longer: I nearly had a fit when this was brought to my attention the other day. Anyway, apart from it being a shame if ever there was one to deprive children of an essential skill, fact is (and should appeal to Americans) that cursive writing is far more efficient (time saving) than block writing. Only the deluded will think we’ll never need it again – wait for the next power cut. Then what? The whole issue stinks on so many levels, not least that handwriting fires synapses in our brain, arguably our creativity, that no hitting the keyboard can match.

      U

    • I think that I have mentioned elsewhere that I suffer from right ulnar palsy since the last eight years. It makes writing difficult for me and I avoid it to the extent possible. Two Sundays ago, I had gone to a special bazar where a friend had set up a stall to display and sell her organic products. Her son was managing the show and he insisted that I write my name and comments on a visitor’s book. I did and was pleasantly surprised to see that I could and that the handwriting was still good and very legible. The young lad made my day by complimenting on my handwriting!

  2. Aneesh Shahani says:

    During my childhood days I have fond memories of my mother writing letters to my Naani in Delhi, and she would in turn reply her letter. These letters were mostly sent by this “INLAND LETTER CARD”. After having sent a letter to her mother she would eagerly wait for her reply.What used to happen was that if any mail came it was pushed under the door by the postman, and it made a particular sound. So she would get over-excited the moment she heard any sound and so she would tell me ” Aneesh, dekho koi chitthhee aaya kya ?” And if there was a letter for her, her happiness knew no bounds. But if it was something else I would have to go and give her the report of what all junk mail has overtaken her “chitthhee”. More often than not we used to receive a lot of junk mail. The reason was because my dad had subscribed to a number of news magazines like “India Today” ,”TIME” and “Newsweek”.This junk mail was all advertising offers for subscribing to different magazines etc. We even fell for one of their offers. Once we landed up subscribing to ” Business Today ” magazine which my dad was not really interested in but the reason he subscribed to it was because along with the subscription we got a free AM/FM radio.
    I too remember that my mum also used to take full advantage of all the space available on the inland by filling the flaps. One day we received an inland from a company as an advertisement of some sort. so it was not the regular postal inland, it was an inland specially printed by the company and i noticed they had sealed it “FROM ALL SIDES” This made me think that how “enterprising” she is, that instead of sealing from all sides and making the inland more secure, she chooses to use the space to put in more of her priceless thoughts. This would go on and letters would go back-n-forth.
    At times she would prefer writing a letter on plain paper and enclosing it in an envelope. The postal department had these yellow envelopes which were pre-stamped in which one could enclose letters.So she would send the letter through that alternative postal medium.
    At the time of “Raksha Bandhan ” she would send her brother a “Rakhee” with a letter to him enclosed in the yellow envelope.

    • I am delighted to see you here Aneesh. Please do so more often. You have a flair with words and you will enrich my comments section.

      I too get many periodicals by mail besides the occasional letter, usually appeals for donations and the like. Otherwise, just about all the people who used to correspond with me call me up on the phone nowadays.

      Your comments bring back many memories to me too and I still cherish the two Rakhis that inevitably come every year by post from my real sister and one rakhi sister.

  3. I still get letters at home, but they are typed up on a computer and usually from government department telling me something that they could possibly just email me!
    I can’t remember when I last had a handwritten one…

    However, I have been hand writing in some handmade journals I have made, including the one I wrote in (briefly at this point) whilst away…

    On good days I can write reasonable clearly (as long as it’s not lined paper) but I have double benign essential tremor with additional muscles related problems in both hands…born with the darn problems.

    thinking about this idea of no cursive writing, how will these youngsters write up a quick shopping list. I’ve 2 pieces of paper beside me right now with written reminder on for today, one about the brand of my printer/ink; the other brief needs from the food store…

    • Catherine de Seton says:

      I know I could put these details in an app @ smart phone, but who has there phone in the kitchen, when you are checking the pantry/fridge…kind of seems like a mad idea to me!

      • You are unique Catherine. My daily, daughter in love and other users of my kitchen inevitably carry their phones with them to answer calls and / or to make notes. Quite common now.

    • I remember the handwritten journals that you had shown in your blog post.

      Shopping lists also go on to cellphones nowadays. Just last evening, my son on his way out informed me that he was going to a book shop and if I wanted something, I should text him so that he could see if he could get it/them for me! I did, it was not available but, he surprised me with a totally unexpected book which I had been wanting to read for many months.

  4. shackman says:

    I have not written letters in years Truth is my handwriting is so bad because of lack of use I doubt I ever will take t up again. That is interesting as I think I sound like adifferent person when I write as opposes to type.

    • You have made a very valid point which I wish I had covered in my post. When we hand wrote letters, we had to think before we put down what we wanted to say as erasing and rewriting was out of the question unlike now, when on the keyboard, these are simple matters. Yes, when we write by hand, we will be different.

  5. ekoshapu says:

    I started writing response here, but ended up writing a blog of my own, in response to this post. Hope you’ll check it…

    I am again tempted to add a comment after reading a line from shackman’s comment above which says: “I think I sound like a different person when I write as opposes to type.” That’s an interesting thought! I have felt it too…
    I’ll add one more line to this…I sound like a different person if I write in English as opposed to if I write in my mother tongue (Marathi).

    Secondly, I find it so much difficult to write formal letters (to Municipal Corporation or a Ministry, or RTI applications etc) in Marathi…I think that’s where Marathi (like all regional languages) lost to English. We could never make the vernacular languages fit for official government correspondence. All the pompous words such as महादंडाधिकारी, प्रबंधक, सहाय्यक अभियंता, नगर परिवहन sound so weird and artificial in letter that you feel comfortable switching to English.
    ekoshapu recently posted..Letter Writing!

    • You are bang on with the problems of writing official letters in the vernacular. Deciphering what is received is also quite a challenge! Problem of living in a multilingual country. I hope that you will see my response to Shackman’s comments which I made before I read your comments.

  6. I miss getting letters, even though my handwriting has become abysmal. I used to write my great-Aunt and grandmother weekly, and always looked forward to getting their letters each week. And I had several friends I corresponded with. Now my correspondences are all by email. It’s not all bad, though – I still love getting emails.

    • Yes, one does miss getting the snail mails and the all the rigmarole of opening the envelopes, settling down with some tea or coffee to read and savour the contents.

  7. Wisewebwoman says:

    Ha. Daughter belongs to a club that postcard each other all around the globe. Cursive lives on. I also write letters and cards, not as frequently as before but I keep it up, mainly to savour the written word more so than emails which don’t linger as much tho I do have a fairly lavish email correspondence too.

    It’s much like books thinking was they’d die out in favour of Ebooks and they are now flourishing again with little bookstores opening up.

    XO
    WWW

    • I recently had to write my name and offer some comments on a visitors’ register and I surprised myself with my handwriting and was more surprised when I was complimented for my handwriting by the young lad manning the stall. Other than that, I haven’t even issued a cheque in years! I however hope to use the picture post cards that Milind has provided me with and start something like your daughter has done!

  8. nick says:

    I haven’t written an “ordinary” letter to a friend or relative for many years. I never wrote love letters to anyone either. I was never much of a letter writer, preferring phone calls or face-to-face meetings. The only people I write to these days are official organisations – solicitors, the tax authority, banks, the passport office etc. Nowadays of course I keep in touch with friends by email, which is a wonderful invention and much easier than handwriting!

  9. Aneesh Shahani says:

    Moreover as I am very interested in collecting postage stamps and philately is one of my hobbies.Today with the changes in communication trends like e-mail and the
    latest “addiction” towards “Whatsapp” people hardly use the services of the postal department.
    This has caused my stamp collection to stagnate. May be once in blue moon I may receive some mail with a rare postage stamp affixed on it and I preserve it and add it to my collection.

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