250 stamps later... ready to ship !
By Etan Doronne
30 Mar 2011
Yesterday I bought my first stamps for this time around in India. It reminded me of my last stay here.
That day, early February 2008, I glued Rs. 2500 (about $60) worth of stamps on a Doti in the shape of the Indian map. The Doti is the south Indian male wrap around 'skirt'. I bought it for the purpose of wrapping a parcel to be shipped to Israel.
Later, back in the USA, this beautiful quilt served me to cover items left in my parked car.
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In my childhood I was an avid stamp collector. So dedicated, I used to sell lemonade, flowers, put up neighborhood plays and camps sell tickets. With the money I collected I went to Tel Aviv and purchased stamps to complete my Israeli philatelic collection.
Many years past, my interest focus changed, the albums are tucked away and I can't remember when I ad last opened them. But I always had a warm spot for these miniature art forms, the stamps.
Whenever I ship a parcel or envelope I refuse to use these computerized printed stickers that replace stamps, instead, when I arrive at a city or towns post office I ask them to flip through their stamp available for sale.
Here in India you can only Imagine how colorful, shapely, large and even perfumed stamps are, a feast for the senses and a very affordable one too, even for locals. every sub district town has a philatelic person within every post office. I sit with him in his office peacefully, far from the crowds at the main hall and select the stamps I feel for. These will serve for sending postcards, letters and parcels (sometime the best way to avoid hauling what ever accumulates along such a long travel is to ship it back home. Many use currier but these are more costly and.... they don't use stamps ! :)
Indian post office regulations, or just the mandatory tradition, requires every parcel shipped (abroad?) to be fully wrapped and stitches in fabric. Then every spot where stitches begin/end/cross has to be sealed with molten wax ! Of course on my first visit to the India post office I couldn't guess that. So after standing in "line" I had to go back to the stall outside the post office yard and buy some red wax sticks for Rs. 5 each ( about 10 US cents). Now how do I get these molten ? Luckily, the same person who pointed that stall to me volunteered to help. Right on the post office premises, as you can see at the photo I just had to snap, among the trees, where dry foliage covers the earth he started a little fire. He melted the tip of a wax stick and smeared it using a coin or a key onto the parcel wrap stitches.
The next time I had to sent a parcel I knew the chain of services involved: A grocery shop for an empty box, The textile shop for the fabric, the tailor for the fitting and stitching and the post office. My only twist was the stop at the philatelic office, but that was a perk comparing to standing in "line".
By the time I made friend with the philatelic employee after spending some browsing and gluing hours together, he was happy to introduce our art piece to all others in the office and.... individually count and stamp this collection.
However... there is another side to Indian post: what happens after your mail item leaves your hands. Here's my experience with that part: http://jpgmag.com/photos/3458147