From pigeons, to the post, to email and now of course, Whatsapp, the art of exchanging letters and messages has come a long way. But as convenient and fast emails and messaging services have made our lives, you've got to admit, there was a certain charm to letters.
Remember the time your friendly local postman came down the street riding his rickety old bicycle, calling out to you to collect your mail? Or the tiny colorful stamps adorning the corners of envelopes? Has been a long time for most of us, hasn’t it?
The eager wait for a letter to reach somebody, the surprise and wonder that came upon receiving a letter or postcard, the urgency to open it and read, all disappeared somewhere in the sea of notifications and blue ticks.
There are some souls however, who decided to not let this art die, and have come up with unique ways to use technology to encourage letter-writing:
In the olden days, postcards were a popular means to communicate while traveling, or to send a short message with a picture. People also bought them as souvenirs. As social media became the rage, they slowly died out over the years. Until Postcrossing happened.
Postcrossing is a project that connects the world through postcards. It lets you send and receive postcards from random people all across the world. Yes, real postcards.
How it works is, you request to send a postcard on the website and receive an address. It could be anywhere in the world. For each card you send, you receive at least one in return. Where you will receive a card from is a surprise. Imagine waking up one morning and receiving a postcard all the way from Ukraine.
Sounds interesting? You can visit https://www.postcrossing.com/ for more information.
The Snail Mail Project:
This project has been started by someone closer home. Sumedha Sah, an illustrator based in Mumbai, is trying to both revive the art of letter-writing and bring the letters to life through art.
You can send her a letter, and she responds by creating an artwork based on the letter.
The project is already two years old, and so far she has received letters from all around the globe.
To participate or simply view the artworks, visit https://www.sumedhasah.com/the-snail-mail-prokject/.
There are those who want to learn a new language, and there are those who would like to make friends around the world. Why not do both together?
InterPals is a great website for learning a new language with the help of a native speaker. You can find a pen-pal (a friend to exchange letters with) who is a native speaker of any language of your choice. You could either opt for writing letters back and forth, or, for the less patient ones, chatting. This not only helps you speak that language better, you also come away having made more friends across the globe.
https://www.interpals.net/ is where you can find more information on it.
Daak - Postcards from the Attic:
India, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, has seen its traditions, literature, art and expressions flourish over the years. And we have but only seen a fraction of it.
Daak, translating to ‘mail’ in Hindi, is an initiative by two women to draw attention to the lesser known stories, artworks and ideas from the rich cultural heritage of India. Although it does not involve real mail, they use the template of ancient postcards to give the reader a feel of reading a postcard and to do the rich content justice.
If you are an old soul on the lookout for some interesting, meaningful content, you can give http://daak.co.in/ a visit.
We all have, at one point or the other, wished we could have told our past selves something. Although that isn’t yet possible, you sure can tell your future self something.
An initiative started almost 17 years ago, futureme is a website that lets you send a letter to the future you. Yes, you read that right. A letter (an email) you write and send, but which is delivered in the future. You can choose when it is to be delivered. It could be three years after, or five, whatever you wish. Years later, when you have forgotten all about this, what a nice surprise it will be to receive an email from the past you. It might make you reflect too; how far have you come since then?
To send a letter to yourself or to read the public but anonymous letters posted by others, https://www.futureme.org is the place. Some websites let you send it to anybody in the future,
such as http://www.whensend.com/.
It's a wonderful feeling, writing a letter. When will it reach, or, knowing our Indian Post, will it reach? The suspense is real.
Jokes apart, as fast-paced as our lives keep getting, do try and write a letter to find that window of old-world stillness, if only for a moment.
Happy mailing to all of you!