Blast from the past : A Letter to Myself



Dear Friend

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

                                                                                                               The Fool


This post is part of the contest A letter to yourself.. on WriteUpCafe.com



22 comments:

sharmila said...

Letter to self indeed! Agree totally when you say,'people change ,priorities change'yet, it takes just one call or better still a visit to connect and travel back in time.Nice..

DS said...

Good one! And I completly agree that playing cards with your close set of friends is a joy indeed!

indu chhibber said...

Letters were so precious-email does not come anywhere near the old,yellowed,hand written poems in love.
The joke was fantastic.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Sharmila. True. Glad you liked my nostalgic piece.

C. Suresh said...

Mmm! A wonderful nostalgia trip capped by a good joke! Excellent!

The Fool said...

Thanks, DS. There is going to be a second letter as I am still not done with the Delightful February and there are more card games to come.

The Fool said...

Thanks, indu. Yeah, reading on paper was always fun. But writing was not, at least for me. I always used to get F for hand writing at school. Without computers I would have never written a word after leaving college.

The Fool said...

Thanks, CS.

umashankar said...

That is a gem of a post! it is a feast to the mind, not dissimilar to what you enjoyed in the many weddings you wrote about. It is also an introspective post that ruminates about the passing away of a way of life that the handwritten letters symbolised. It triggered a train of memories in my work-oppressed mind. And the story of the Pastor and the Farmer is is a cracker of a close, although I never seem to have enough of your writings.

BK said...

Enjoyed reading it. Letter writing is a lost art these days.. I remember writing letters to school friends after we passed out, but that was for just a couple of years..before emails took over and then the social networks..
Your letter also reminded me of my childhood days when i waited for the summer vacations when we all visited my native place in Kerala. Being born and brought up in Kolkata, these summer visits had meant a lot to me.. though the interest and frequency decreased over the years..
Anyways, a very good post and all the best for the contest..

The Fool said...

Thanks umashankar. I always look forward to your comments.

The Fool said...

Thanks BK. Good to see you at my blog.I hoped my nostalgia would make the readers also nostalgic about their own happy times from the past. And good to see it having desired effect.

And I must also thank you for choosing this interesting contest topic.

Rickie said...

Do you think 15 years later when this will be read (by you or whoever else), the reader will smile in bemusement at how common marriages were, and how seriously everyone took them to be?

That's the only think I kept thinking while reading the letter. :D

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

A really nice "reliving the past" letter on many levels. My father still makes it a point to "write" me letters frequently, and only I know how special they feel. My wife recently discovered a letter from decades back from a schoolfriend announcing the "official end" of their friendship, which thankfully survives to this day. Letters tend to be loosely structured, more like a stream of consciousness, and your post captures that aspect beautifully. You have managed to touch different aspects of memories in a fluid way. Loved it.

The Fool said...

You seem to have read my thoughts, Rickie Khosla. I was planning to begin the next part of the post with this very point.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot for your detailed comment, Subhorup. That was very encouraging.

Vaishali Jain said...

The nostalgia... that's what gives us so much of vigor to keep the past alive. The joke was hilarious. Your future self will surey smile at this one... wonder what sense of humor would exist in the future.

I enjoyed reading this. Good luck:)

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Vaishali. It would indeed be interesting to see how humor evolves.

jjamwal said...

This is a cool post. I barely remember writing letters now. It's been so long

The Fool said...

Thanks jaidev. Even I don't remember writing any. The ones in my mother's locker I mentioned in this post are the last I remember writing.

Zephyr said...

Since this seems to be a series, are you planning to cover one thing at a time? Like marriages and marriage as an institution? Looking forward to sharing the letter with your future self.

The Fool said...

@Zephyr - I think you refer to my reply to Rickie. Actually this won't flow like an essay. It is actually meant to be like a real letter covering the events in February for a nostalgic future read with associated musings as I go. So the next part would start on the marriage day of my cousin. So there may be some reflections related to marriage.

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