Letters and Landline calls

A casual conversation with a colleague drifted us back to the school and college days. We laughed remembering the details of romantic relationships of that period. While talking about the same, we realized how much has changed in terms of communication. The memory of the landline calls brought back the feelings of thrill and suspense surrounding the same.

Today with advent of mobile telephony and reduced or may be vanished call charges, the connectivity has become seamless. We can connect to someone effortlessly and can make calls or messages at any time. However, the landline era needed patience, perseverance, and determination to talk to someone. The suspense and thrill about “who will pick the phone?”, was an experience to cherish. There were many unlucky attempts before succeeding to hear the voice of our choice on the other side of line. After so much effort you usually got under 5 minutes to convey your message. There was no sign of privacy and yet the messages were conveyed without leak. There was jigsaw created by stretching the wire to find safe corner for late night talks. The wire’s elasticity was tested to extreme to reach the secluded and undisturbed corner.

Now we are connected more closely yet not every conversation is cherished and reminiscences by us. It is like when something is too easily available, the thing kind of ends up losing the charm around it. Technology made communication easy but degraded the emotions around it. Today we surely can say it as and when we want, but we have lost the art of tracking our words and tone.At times there is so much being said in the heat of moment only because we have the mode handy. Out of these, many things can just be left unsaid if given time to think over. We have become habitual to a ‘ASAP’ and ‘SMS’ communication style. We want to say it as soon as possible and with minimum words. In this saving of time and vocabulary the sentiment of the message also gets lost.

When I was in 5th grade, I had my first experience with telegrams. Yes, you envisioned it right I am talking about the SMS version of letters. My father assigned me to write the content of a telegram for “message to be conveyed to your parents that you have exam fee to be deposited and you need money urgently”. The word limit was set as 15 (there were some fixed charges for 15 words)

I started as

Dear Ma and Papa

I am fine hope you are good; I have exams and need to deposit the fee. Please send me Rs 250 for same.

Your loving daughter


Oops it doubled to the allowed word count. It followed many further cuts.

Draft 2

Dear Ma and Papa

I am fine hope you are good; I have exams and need to deposit the fee. Please send me Rs 250 for same.

Draft 3

I am fine hope you are good; I have exams and need to deposit the fee. Please send me Rs 250 for same.

Draft 4

I have exams and need to deposit the fee. Please send me Rs 250 for same.

Gosh, it still has one more word extra. Either ‘I’ takes the cut or ‘please’ must leave. Well they are my parents, even without please they will send money. Let it be sliced.

So, the greetings and feelings must leave as only the most important thing remains in message.  Telegrams were used only for urgency (which was once in months, unlike today when everything is urgent and important), so it did not matter much. However today we have made our basic communication as telegram communication. We love acronyms, we want to say it in lesser words. This short version leaves so much gap for understanding.

Letters were another magical and expressive way of communication. We have lost the legacy when we stopped writing letters. When a person wrote letter, he focused his thoughts to the person. It used to be a way of undivided attention to a person or a relation, which is absent these days. Letters were written once but read multiple times. Every read used to give the same sensation. A conversation can be very soulful, but it can never be revisited and will get lost in time and memory. Our memory fades, we can have some imprint of experience on our psyche, however we can never relive it. A written word of letter had the ability to take us back in time and with each word we can feel the same passion of our relationship with the writer. The touch and feel of letter can soothe our nerves in ways, no technical gadget or mode of communication can provide.

Technical advancement is the reality of human advancement. Things will change, and the new things will guide us to new ways. However, we should always keep the choice of emotions and feelings to ourselves. We should not allow the craze of ASAP and speed to take toll on our expressions and depth.While getting connected to virtual reality and artificial intelligence we should not lose reality of life around us and emotional intelligence from the relations in life.

I would love to know the happy memories about the landline calls or letter reading, you remembered while reading this. Keep communicating, keep sharing.


Learner for life, from life

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