Mindful Living

Words Worth A Thousand Pictures #SnailMail

Handwritten letters are such a treasure. Snailmail rocks! Vidya Sury

As a child of the 60s I was lucky to grow up in a world without technology at my finger tips. I was doubly lucky to grow up in a joint family with my Grandma ruling the roost, with loving uncles and aunts and of course, Mom.

Our family was scattered all over the country and we kept in touch via letters, or snailmail as it is called today. We sent birthday cards, usually handmade by the kids in the house. And what an outlet for creativity that was!

I remember the first letter I ever wrote – predictably, to the Almighty, fervently looking for a miracle where the nails I had sown in one of the flower pots would grow into a big tree. Yes, I was barely 5 and I wrote the letter with chalk on our red floor in the living room, which was my canvas for drawing, writing, practicing math.

To this day my uncle laughs his head off. But hey, we took green living to new heights. At the end of the day, we simply wiped the floor clean and were ready to start afresh the next day.

vidya sury snailmail

Our family enjoyed writing letters. Loved receiving them too. When the postman brought our mail, we would all gather to see what it was all about. Oh, no privacy whatsoever and nobody minded. Unless it was private, when the receiver would appropriately keep it for later to read when others weren’t around. But those were few and far between.

We had a kit – with inland letters, post cards, and envelopes for special occasions that warranted enclosing something. Usually it was the post card or the inland letter. I still have a stack in my bookshelf.

I remember we would dread receiving post cards from a particular member of the family as that would mean they’re coming over to stay for a few weeks – and they would usually arrive with the letter. The younger folks in the family would suggest pretending we never received the card – but that clever thought would go down the drain when the guest was present to receive his own letter.

vidya sury snailmail

We dreamed of pen pals in far off lands – who knew that in just a few decades we would be chatting, emailing and talking in real time with people all over the world!

I fondly recall standing in queue at the post office trying to hold my breath as I used the stinky gum from the little tub that must have been placed there when the post office was built and topped up faithfully. My nose wrinkles just to think of it! My Grandma would scold me for licking the postage stamps before fixing them on the envelope!

The postman was my best friend as I grew up. I’d desperately wait, swinging on the gate only to be disappointed that all I got was a smile and no letters! The days I did receive one, I’d never be around and my Grandma would smartly use it as a bribe to make me do things. What fun those days were!

Our family loved to receive letters from me – they found them amusing and they also enjoyed my handwriting – such as it was. I also tended to write long letters and they looked forward to them. Why, my aunt would store my letters under her clothes on her shelf and read them often.

vidya sury snailmail

Letter writing is fun – mostly when there is interaction. Very rarely will we come across someone who keeps on writing regardless of whether the recipient writes back or not.

I’ve been very lucky to have received lots of letters in my lifetime – I continue to receive them from friends, friends’ kids, people we’ve met. I love the greeting cards during festival time and enjoy sending them myself.

I have a big box of letters I love to sit with and read at random, just like I enjoy looking through my photo albums. Even though we lived together, my Mom enjoyed writing notes to me. Briefly after I moved to Mumbai when I got married, during the couple of months before she joined us there, we exchanged a lot of letters. I’d jokingly tell her we’d better finish off all the stationery we’ve collected between us.

Here are some snippets of letters I treasure.

This one’s from a family friend – we met in 1987. Her son was 8 months old at the time and we adored him. He’s a sports superstar now and we continue to be close. She sent me this when I was pregnant with Vidur.

Vidya Sury SnailMail

Vidya Sury SnailMail

She calls me every week, still!

Sury loves to send post cards when he is traveling. This one was for Vidur when he was 6 months old. Of course he could read!

Vidya Sury SnailMail

vidya sury snailmail 0

This one’s from my Mom.

Vidya Sury SnailMail

Yes, family of long letters!

Vidya Sury SnailMail

I loved how she included little papers with funny stuff with her letters!

Vidya Sury SnailMail

Vidya Sury SnailMail

This ones’ from my aunt – she usually sent a large birthday card that gave her enough space to write in.

Vidya Sury SnailMail

Vidya Sury SnailMail

From a favorite kid!

Vidya Sury SnailMail

And another!Vidya Sury SnailMail

Incidentally, I receive electronic mail from the child I sponsor at ChildFund.org. I opted for electronic as physical letters are expensive for them.

A lovely family friend’s parents:

Vidya Sury SnailMail

And then, I would wait eagerly for my cousin’s massive birthday cards – like large posters!



Handwritten letters are so precious. I love to see the handwriting and imagine the writer, her thoughts and frame of mind and feel a wonderful connection. Some of my friends added a dab of their latest fragrance. Some of us love pretty stationery and keep on accumulating them as if there was no tomorrow. Pens? Don’t ask! I have more than I need. We love to decorate our letters with stickers – real ones. We still do!

I love technology for its efficiency. But technology can never replace people. Especially those who’re gone forever. I hold their handwritten letters close to my heart and feel the love. ♥

Have you written a letter to someone recently?

How did it feel?

I am linking up with the We’ve got Snailmail Blog-A-Rhythm blog bloghop. We started this a month ago and had fun sending a handwritten letter – and I sent one to Suzy who wrote about it on her blog.

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  • Reply
    September 16, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Such a classic, classy Vidya post 🙂 I could walk down memory lane as you spoke about each letter that you received. And how I laughed thinking about the relative who was there to receive his own letter 😀 You really do have a way of bringing the vision alive , dearest Vids 🙂 I know that feeling of holding on to our memories of those no longer with us. I think we really, really should write more often- by hand, long letters that never seem to end. WHY don’t we make time for it these days?
    Shailaja recently posted…Picture postcards: A Snail Mail lesson

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 16, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Gosh, that was quick. How did you manage to read the post so fast? I barely hit the publish button! 🙂

      Yes, I know – but Shailaja, I still write snailmail. 🙂 And it is a wonderful feeling. Have you seen the movie Stepmom? The mother gifts a blanket on which the family’s photos together are printed – I often envisage something like that with letters! Thank you for your lovely comment. And now, you can write me a letter!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…The Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe. Not just a mobile, A work of Art

  • Reply
    September 17, 2015 at 2:44 am

    So many wonderful treasures and memories you can hold dear forever. I enjoyed hearing all about them. Thank you for sharing them here.
    Kathy recently posted…The Flood

  • Reply
    Beloo Mehra
    September 17, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    What a lovely read it is, Vidya! I loved reading through all your precious letters 🙂 And the part about guests arriving before their postcards cracked me up! I remember those times clearly. Thankfully those days are gone, now with speed post etc things are much better even with Indian postal services. But one thing about Indian postal service that still bugs me is that stupid glue that they keep in post offices – same sticky yucky thing, after all these decades. No change. I am sure you know what I am talking about 🙂
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Book Review: The Thinking Indian (Guest Post: Gilu Mishra)

  • Reply
    Vishal Bheeroo
    September 17, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Technology can and will never replace the love, warmth and emotion poured. Nothing can beat the hand written letter and it remains priceless, rekindling the memories and joys of those days:)
    Vishal Bheeroo recently posted…Tornado Giveaway: I Don’t Wear Sunscreen by Kavipriya Moorthy

  • Reply
    Geraldine Grady
    September 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Love this! Makes me think of all the pen pals I had as a child and adolescent. I still have many of these cards and letters in a plastic bag, hidden away in some closet. You’ve inspired me to pull them out and have a beautiful time down memory lane. Thank you Vidya!

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 17, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Geraldine, I am so thrilled to see you! I love how I think of you and you appear! (More via email!)

      These letters (and hundreds more) are such a treasure to read. I have several dating back to decades! Hugs to you!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Give and Grow Rich #CharityDay

  • Reply
    September 17, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Handwriting letters are precious Vidya. It’s quicker nowadays and it’s always nice to receive a card and a couple of words from people we love. I cherish all letters I received over the years. And I love writing some to dear friends and family members. I like to imagine the enveloppes travelling from one end to another end of the country / of the world.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Exactly, Marie! So precious to lovingly put the cover together and send it on its way, anticipating the joy of the one receiving it! 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comment!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Living is for everyone #SuicidePrevention

  • Reply
    September 17, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    WOW!!! I am so jealous of you, Vidya. So many letters to treasure. I have written and received letters from my friends. And fro my mom and dad when I was in the hostel. I treasured each of them. Once I fractured my leg by running and falling over in the excitement of seeing the postman at the hostel gate. I had 3 letters waiting for me that day. 🙂 But all those letters and cards are lost when I moved to Bangalore for job. My mom never got the sentiments behind these and she didn’t think that they are valuable enough. Only later I came to know that all the letters are lost along with my poems I used to scribble and hid well in one of my bags. 🙁
    Anyways, I felt happy seeing so many letters in this pst. You are so lucky dear. May you stay blessed always. 🙂
    Vinitha recently posted…#MicroblogMondays – What are you up to currently?

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 17, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Vinitha, hugs! I know how you feel. You know, I used to doodle and draw all the time. I remember this one time when my aunt just threw away close to 3 kgs of my sketches (that’s a LOT of paper) to the waste paper wala. She just assumed I may not need them after we moved to another city. Life is weird that way. I am so sorry you lost your precious stuff. Why don’t you message me your address and I’ll write you a letter? Sending you love!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Hard Knock Cafe #MondayMusings

  • Reply
    Darla M Sands
    September 17, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    I recently sent a thank you note to a friend’s parents. They took me in and fed me when their dauther’s son had an emergency that ruined our plans. It was a lovely visit.
    Darla M Sands recently posted…Dancin’ the Night Away

  • Reply
    Camilla Hallstrom
    September 18, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    What a great post, Vidya! I, too, treasure those handwritten letters. Just knowing that a person went through all that “trouble” for you (picking out a card, writing it, posting it), make them irreplacable.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 18, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      How lovely to see you here, Camilla! I treasure my letter box! In fact, ever since I wrote this post, I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia and loving it – going through old letters and photo albums. Even the smell brings back memories. Thank you for stopping by!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Hard Knock Cafe #MondayMusings

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