Monday, April 04, 2005

Planes, trains, and letters

There's something nostalgic about letters, now that we communicate mostly by email, sms, blogs, and IM. Email is fast and cheap, but nothing beats holding an artefact in your hand that bears the evidence of coming from faraway lands - the postage stamps, the franks of foreign postal systems, the though that this thing travelled a long way to reach you.

I discovered the General Post Office (now the opulent Fullerton Hotel) when I was a teenager, and I realised that here was a way of going abroad without going abroad: sitting in the main lobby of the GPO, you could see people from all sorts of places walk in, and get a taste of foreign lands without buying a ticket. The same experience can be had at the airport, with the added bonus of choosing your emotional soundtrack: hang around departures to see tearful farewells and relieved tourists going home, hang around arrivals to see joyful homecomings and bewildered tourists coming in. They've taken the old GPO away now, and its replacement, some ways away from the town centre, isn't as cosmopolitan in its clientele - functional, but without the colonial feel of the old GPO at Fullerton building.

I haven't written a letter in years, or received a letter, excepting christmas cards. It's too convenient just to email, or to sms from abroad. It's amusing how outmoded things are automatically nostalgic - I'm sure train journeys and cruises were mundane when they were the best there was, but now that we have flights, they're imbued with a certain romance (unless you're talking about the Indian rail network, I suppose). I'd still prefer to travel by train than coach or plane, partly because it's slower, more stable, and gives you the room to walk around and stretch your legs, but also because it seems more like doing things the old-fashioned way.

Anyway, all this was sparked off by receiving a package in the mail from poketo, some things that I ordered from them. I'm happy to report that they delivered promptly (1 week between ordering and receiving) and without fuss, and that they have some very fine merchandise indeed.

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