Letters, now in Fetters?

Did you know that today, December 7, is Letter Writing Day? I did not and a tweet informed me about this day of the year!

As a child though I don’t remember about posts and letters while at Valparai, I do clearly remember them when we moved to a tiny scenic village in Kerala called Pallavur. Though Pallavur had a Post Office, our home was quite away from it. Therefore the letters that came by post used to be brought by a “runner” who carried a mail bag to the next village (Koodalur)  which did not have a Post Office. He would ring the bicycle bell continuously to alert us – one of us would run to the gate to collect the letter. Those days, letters meant a world to all of us for Dad used to be in different locations of Tamil Nadu being a government employee. It was a pleasure to read Dad’s letters. Though the letters were all addressed to Mom, we had no qualms of reading them – in fact it was like it was our right to read them! Looking back, I don’t think we ever gave Dad and Mom their privacy!

Another vivid memory is that of my grandfather writing letters to his sons and daughters in Blue Inland letters. Sometimes when we received inland letters, we would open the wrong end and the letter would actually be in pieces, by the time the tearing was done! Yellow post cards were very commonly used. It had no cover and whatever was written on it could be read by anyone! Today’s privacy freaks would die a hundred deaths if they received one of that kind.

As I grew up, I remember writing letters to my siblings, Dad & Mom and to the extended family. Some how I came to believe that I must do full justice to the postage I am spending for the letter; therefore I wrote in a smaller hand and never ever ‘wasted’ any available space in inland letters. Opening my inland letter was truly an art for I would spare only that stretch where I should use the gum to stick it!

After a while, I graduated from inland letters to envelopes – those ivory coloured ones. Now our  letters ran into pages – this was true of my siblings too. In an era when there was no mobile phones or even telephones, we felt that we could lay bare our day-to-day experiences through these epistles notwithstanding the fact that the reply might come only in a month or so. Life was never in the fast lane, those days! It is this constant flow of information via letters that also drew me into embracing stamp collection as my hobby.

When I moved to the UAE in 2003, I missed my family very much. Though emails were already eating into the share of hand written letters, I still clung to my habit. I remember writing long letters, running to even 8 -10 full scape pages and sending them via airmail. My family too wrote long letters back and it was such a joy reading them. I kept all of them safely and in chronological order. On days, when I felt really low, I would keep reading them, one by one. They really had the power to lift me up!

Gradually life became fast paced; hand written letters and snail mail paved way to the lightning swift yet impersonal email. And nowadays, even email is a rarity. Phones are a  dime a dozen and if we need to exchange views it is at the click of a button or the swipe of a touch screen. Pins, tweets, posts, status updates and the like rule the roost. Many a time there is a word limit like of 140 characters for a Tweet or of 420 characters for a status update in Facebook. We write lesser and lesser. No wonder we need a Letter Writing Day!

When did I last write a hand written letter? I take solace in the fact that it was not far away into the past – in October 2012. For many, it would have been years before? This peep into the past, into the art and science of letter writing is almost creating an urge in me to write hand written letters. Why not make it a New Year Resolution? Find time and energy to write letters to my near and dear ones. I am sure I will never regret it! Nor will my recipients!!  😀

Thoughts make Things!

Today when I checked my Facebook wall, I found Chitraji’s (Chitra Jha) status update:

“Our ‘ill-feelings’ towards others (and ourselves), make us physically, emotionally,    financially and relation-ally ill………….:)
When we are ‘sick’ of others (ourselves, our life, our circumstances, our problems), we become physically, emotionally, financially, and relation-ally sick………..:)
When someone becomes a ‘pain in our neck’, we develop a pain in our neck….:)
When someone becomes a ‘pain in our arse’, we literally experience that pain….:) When we say ‘it’s killing me’….it does…….:)
When we say, we can’t afford it, we can’t…..:)
When we save for a ‘rainy day’, it rains…..:)
It is time we ‘mind-ed’ our language to ‘mend’ our physical, emotional, financial, and relational health……♥ “

The lines were like a whip lash – flagellating my being. A couple of years back when I was struggling to get a grip over challenging times and when books were my favourite friends, I remember reading “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss and “You can Heal your Life” by Louise L Hay. I had come across similar strands of thought in these books and it made perfect sense to me. A dear friend gave me the gift of Reiki (thanks a ton, Anitha Raghunath for this) and I practised it regularly. To this day I believe that it is this energy of healing that helped me regain my health and well being. However, it was so difficult to break the existing patterns of thoughts. At some frail yet revealing moment I remember, I just wished I could take refuge in some serene place in the Himalayas, famed for its ashrams and monasteries. This can never happen for I belong to Kerala, the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula, whereas the Himalayas so far north… and so very far away. Anyway, it was a fervent thought and as things got better, I forgot about it all.

The one line that captures the essence of Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist is this line – “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Yes, the Universe did conspire to make my thought happen, in an ever so strange way. I might have forgotten the thought, but the Universe did not.

The job that I got was at Ranikhet in Uttaranchal. It would never have been a choice I would have opted for; it was so far far away from all whom I love and care about… my darling daughter, my ever so supportive and affectionate family, and friends. But then there are moments when one doesn’t have any other choice – besides, I was too keen to get back to work. At least it will keep me occupied in thoughts, words and deeds and give me the much needed security blanket of a steady income.

Before leaving for Ranikhet, I checked out about the place. These lines took my breath away : “Ranikhet is a hill station and cantonment town in Almora district. in the Indian State of Uttarkhand. It is at an altitude of 1869 metres above sea level and within sight of the western peaks of the Himalayas.”

I landed in the Ranikhet campus on an evening in May 2009. The evening also saw the first first hail storm of the season. As I bid goodbye to my brother who flew from Mumbai to see me safely through to Ranikhet, I took refuge in the warmth of the beautiful home and the picturesque locale.

The next morning I woke up and drew my bedroom curtains. Lo! What do I see? The wondrous sight of the snow clad Himalayas… and when the mist cleared the trident shaped Mount Trishul gleamed in the sunlight!

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Thoughts are powerful expressions of energy; so are words. They are like transmitters that send off powerful vibes. Every thing that we think and speak adds colour, shape, speed and vibration to this. Thus it snowballs either into something we want or never want, based on the emotion that was attached to it. This incident is a constant reminder to me about the need to choose intention with care – and the attention given to it as well as the feeling attached to it. They can either create happy and joyful experiences or make the  experience purely hellish.

And thank you Chitra Jha for reminding me this latent power of our thoughts and words, for I have overlooked this lately! 🙂