I have not been to a post office for a very long time now. Yesterday, I happened to visit a post office to drop a set of invitations. How ironic that an institution like Post office has no connection with my day to day life. I come from a family closely associated with Post Offices. My Grandfather was a Post Master and two of my uncles worked in the Post & Telegraphs department. But those days are gone. Off late I have used Post Offices only for encashing my NSC certificates. I have not bought NSC for years now.. may be a good option in a declining interest rate regime.
I dont write letters these days. Everything is on the email and even if I have to write a letter it is usually despatched through Courier. The question of reliability of Postal department for timely delivery of letters still remains. Even in this case I was told to split the number of invitations to two or three batches and post it from different post offices due to avoid any magical "disappearance" of the letters. Postal department have also tried to remain contemporary and now I understand that they offer online funds transfer to most of the PO across India. I haven't tried it yet. They also offer various kinds of savings schemes ranging from National Savings Certificate to PO Monthly Income Scheme (POMIS) to Senior Citizens Deposit which offers higher rate of interest. They have also tied up with Western Union Money transfer for handling incoming foreign funds transfer. They issue address certification which is widely accepted when you move from one city to another. I have also used Speed Post services for few times and and I can say it is efficient. Over the last year or so, Postal department is coming out with full page advertisements on newspapers advertising their products and services.
Talking of Post Offices, I would love to talk about couple of things. First one takes me back to a period when my Uncle was the Post Master of New Colony Post Office, Tuticorin. The PO used to function from a huge bungalow spread over good 6 grounds of land and the Post Master's quarters was attached to the Post Office. We used to have a lovely time playing in the garden ranging from Cricket to "Silly Pandhu" (7 stones in City life parlance). We have used lot of paper and stationery of the Post Office for our paper ball cricket, our rough notebooks and so many other things. Small privilege of being Post Master's relative!! All these were some good 20-25 years ago. I want to see if the building which housed the PO still remains and I enquired with a person from Tuticorin about this. He told me that it still remains in the same condition. I would love to have a look at it when I go there next time.
Second thing is about my Aunt and her daughter who used Postal services very effectively for sharing the day to day events. Letters were the only mode of communication at that time with telephone calls being prohibitively costly, mostly restricted to conveying some very good news or death. They used to write two letters every week and the postal department served them unfailingly. The process works like this. My Aunt would write a letter and post it on Monday and it reaches the daughter on Wednesday. The daughter writes a letter and posts it on Thursday and it reaches my Aunt on Saturday. The cycle would go on and on.
When did you last visit a Post Office for some transaction? If you reading this on the web, I guess not for a very long time!!