14th July 2013 marked the last day of the telegram in India, a 163-year-old service known for its speed and brevity back in the day. Thousands of people must have been intimated of the news and happenings that may have changed their lives. News of births and deaths, acquisitions and losses, prosperity and destruction, countries becoming independent and being divided into two – events that shaped history and decided destinies must have been reported in short sentences punctuated by “stops”, quite literally.
As the telegram service came to its end, newspapers and social media went berserk announcing it. People, who are usually quite exhausted by the endless queues in India, voluntarily stood in line to send their last telegrams, however redundant they might have been. From the telegraph office in Mumbai, more than 3,000 telegrams were sent on the last day! And when the staff member announced the closure of the service at the end of the day, she broke into tears.
Is it not true then that as much as we applaud our progress in technology and services and ease of living, we still crave times when life was simpler? Or maybe it is because these are symbols of our childhood, of our years gone by, embossed with fond memories, only to be reminisced, never to come back again.
While the “death” of the telegram has caused much hue and cry, there are so many other things that have died their slow deaths without ceremony. Maybe because they have been replaced by jazzier substitutes, we do not miss them that often. But when the mind goes back to them now and then (and rarely nowadays), there is undoubtedly an instant tinge of nostalgia in our eyes and a happy smile on our lips. This post is dedicated to a few such symbols of my childhood days.