I write to you from a distant time. The very idea of a letter might seem a novelty to you for the concept of letters is fast becoming obsolete even now in a world closely integrated by internet and social networking. So it will be practically unheard of in your time. Like many of the artifacts from the past, it will however have sentimental value for years to come and I hope it will retain that even in your time.
I wonder what I should write. Practical letters of course have a definitive purpose. But as I mentioned, letters have begun to lose association with practicality. When talking of letters going beyond practical considerations, one set of famous letters that come to my mind are Jawaharlal Nehru’s letters to his daughter Indira which was published as a book. But that book I believe contains words of wisdom from a father to a daughter. I sincerely hope you would be wiser than me and would not be in need of any words of wisdom from me. So I would not presume to preach to you.
Very recently I was going through the locker in our house and I discovered a bunch of old letters preserved by my mother. Most of them were written by me when I was at college. Reading those letters filled me with nostalgic feeling of those good times. I feel that is the primary purpose a letter can serve: reliving good times from the past. That is what I seek to offer you through my letters: a chance to relive good times from our shared past. Since memories begin to fade with passage of time, my memories of events nearer to me in time will be stronger than yours and I shall write them down for you to read, recollect and enjoy at leisure.
They say the greatest fear one can have is fear itself. I would extend this to say the greatest joy is joy itself. More often than not the people, places and events that give us joy have some joyful event from the past associated with them. The memory of the past happiness associated with them awakens a new happiness. February of 2012 was a month that brought back many such happy memories. It was as if all the happy moments from different points of my life came together and ran before my eyes.
It was a month of marriages. I attended 5 different weddings in 5 different cities. 3 of the weddings were of close friends from my MBA days. The first was in Mysore. 2 friends were coming for the wedding from Mumbai and 2 of us were in Bangalore. The friend who was getting married had arranged a van for our group. It was fun meeting old friends again and chatting away to glory through the journey as if we were back at B-School. We also stopped on the way at the local bird sanctuary and a famous temple making it a kind of semi sightseeing trip. The accommodation turned out to be rooms in a grand Maharaja Style club house. After attending the evening reception, we stayed up most of the night playing cards. Nothing is a joyful as a game of cards with your close set of friends. Then next morning we had breakfast at the marriage hall and we were off to visit the Mysore palace. We were back in time for the final solemnization ceremony of the marriage. Then a sumptuous lunch and back on the road to Bangalore again. We stopped on the way in Channapatna to buy some wooden art pieces. It was an interesting experience looking over the different intricate carvings.
Within a week’s time, a pair of cousins were getting married. One my wife’s in Bangalore and one of my own in Chennai on consecutive days. So breakfast and lunch at local cousin’s wedding and then catch train and rush for dinner at the outstation cousin’s reception! Both the wedding locations had rich memories associated with them. Rajajinagar, the area in Bangalore where the first wedding was held was where I spent the best part of my childhood. Chennai was where I had spent many a delightful summer vacation during my school days and also where I did my engineering as well as joined my first job. Chennai is one city that has a very special place in my heart.
I had heard a lot about Shatabdi express. We finally got an opportunity to travel by it. I was travelling in a train after a gap of 4-5 years and for the first time ever with my wife on an Indian train. So that itself made it special. But the real specialty of the train that everyone appreciated turned a negative for us. For, after a heavy lunch at a wedding and another heavy dinner expected at another wedding, continuous flow of train meals is hardly an attraction. By that night I had almost developed a pathological hatred towards food. Cibophobia is what they call fear of food apparently.
The best part was when we reached the marriage hall. The whole family came out to greet us. Uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmother! Everyone came rushing to the door to welcome me. I had not been in touch with these folks lately and seeing them transported me to the days of my childhood when I used to visit them every summer holidays. Everyone had grown up, priorities had changed, and people had gotten busy. But for that one moment it was as if we were caught in a time warp.
I think we have covered enough ground for one letter. I do not want to be like my professor at engineering who wanted to pack maximum material into every class. Talking of which I am reminded of a joke I read somewhere. So let me leave you with the joke as I end the letter and keep the rest for another letter.
There is this young pastor who is deputed to a remote village. Filled with enthusiasm, he prepares a long sermon to deliver, gets ready early on Sunday morning and goes to the church. But what does he find there? A lone farmer! He waits for an hour. No one turns up. He is confused what to do. The farmer seeing the confusion speaks up, “If I go to the cow shed with a cartload of hay and find just one cow waiting for me, I still at least feed that one cow.” The pastor gets his message. His spirits pick up again and he delivers his complete sermon with full gusto. Then he turns to the farmer who now has a tired look on his face and asks triumphantly, “How did you find the speech?” The farmer pauses for a while and replies, “If I go to the cow shed with a cartload of hay and find just one cow waiting for me, I still at least feed that one cow. But not the entire cartload of hay to one poor cow.”
So I take leave of you. I can’t say I am eagerly awaiting your reply. But if they discover time travel in your life time, do try and write back to me.
Your one true well wisher
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