The magic of letter writing | Sunday Observer

The magic of letter writing

Do you still write and post letters ? If you use e-mail, Viber, Skype etc, you may not have sent a real, personal letter in a long time. However, those of you who have pen pals know what it is like to send a real letter. You write the letter, insert it into an envelope, affix a stamp and send it to its destination, within Sri Lanka or even to the other side of the world.

Stamps were first used in England in the 1840s as a simple way of paying for letters. Later, all countries agreed on the postage stamp system where you only pay once to send a letter to the doorstep of anyone anywhere on Earth. Stamp collecting is a popular hobby among schoolchildren and even adults. Many of us like to collect rare and unusual stamps.

The postal system has brought the world together. Countries around the world celebrate the World Post Day tomorrow (Oct 9). This marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union in 1874 in Switzerland.

In Sri Lanka, you can go to the remotest village and still find the familiar emblem of the Post Office. Long before today’s mobile phones, this was the only place that had a telephone; it was the only place where you could post a letter to someone living on the other side of the world.

Today, you can also pay bills, deposit money, send and receive money and even send e-mail at the Post Office. In some countries, including Sri Lanka, they issue ID cards to students.

The Post through the Philatelic Bureau is also connected with the hobby of stamp collecting which cuts across age barriers.

Despite all technological advances, the Post Office still remains relevant. There are 640,000 post offices around the world that help deliver 450 billion letters, parcels and other documents every year. The Post is truly a public service for every citizen of the world.

The Internet may have slowed down letter-writing, but it has boosted the postal system in another way – people order a lot of things on the Internet which have to be sent by post.

In fact, the Postal system’s share of the parcel business is growing despite the competition from courier companies with global online sales reaching US$ 1.5 trillion last year.

There is even the possibility that old-fashioned letter writing is making a comeback. There is no sense of intimacy in an e-mail, but a physical letter can be treasured for generations to come.

There are many people who still treasure the letters written to them by their mothers and fathers. Perhaps you will take some time away to write a letter occasionally to a relative or friend living in another city or country.

There’s something inherently wonderful about all of this. This is what the Post has been doing and will continue to do so, hopefully for many more decades to come.

It connects people, removing all barriers and bringing nations close together.