An ode to the humble telegram

Do you people remember good ol’ weddings (especially the Tam Brahm ones) that you attended when you were probably anywhere between 5-12 yrs old, provided you were born on the wrong (or is it the right side) of the 80s?, ie, before 1980 itself. Apart from all the lovely gift wrapped boxes (which for some funny reason were always in red color), and the white envelopes containing Gandhi notes (which in those days were only the Rs 500 ones, unlike today) you always had the smattering of congratulatory telegrams from relatives all over the country who couldn’t quite make it to the wedding.
Why they couldn’t make it to the wedding is yet another blog post in itself which will tell the story of Indian Railways in the 80s. That in itself is a long walk down memory lane, but this post is more about the telegrams themselves.
I don’t remember whose wedding it was, but this I clearly remember, me and my dad and my uncles sitting down in the afternoon of the wedding with all those telegrams. We actually used to make a list of the names and locations of the people who actually sent out these telegrams. In fact, I remember one of my fastidious uncles actually going ahead and sending out personalized “Thank You” inland letters to each of these well-wishers who sent out the telegrams.

In fact, those were days when you actually had the Short Address of the Kalyana Mantapam on the Wedding Invitation itself, for eg, if the Mantapam was located at Kaustubam, Thrissur, the Short Address would be printed something like “Grams: KAUSTUTRCR” right at the bottom of the wedding invitation. This was our way of telling people that it was ok for them not to attend the wedding itself, but had to surely send out at least a telegram with their blessings in it.

The main reason I was taken back to these lovely days was this article in Livemint in which the authors have chronicled the rise and the fall of the Indian Telegraph System. This article is comprehensive in terms of the coverage and historical accuracy, and what’s more interesting is the fact that it is peppered with quotes and anecdotes from Telegraph employees who are still in the service of the department.

Read on, if you have ever received or sent a telegram in your life. This post will make you feel nostalgic and even a little sad at this dying mode of communication in India.
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One thought on “An ode to the humble telegram

  1. Man !! I wonder when i last sent a telegram or worse still, recieved one. Whenever there was a telegram, i recollect, it was for some bad news. I used to look with dread if there was a telegram getting delivered !Those were the simple days !! You took me to a different era !

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