Only the once-wannabe-serious-Philatelic will relate to this post. The rest of you, what’s new?
As a kid, you needed a hobby to answer the question- What is your hobby? There was no other hobby other than stamp collecting that easily came to everyone's mind. Collecting abuses was not a serious pursuit as uniqueness was generally frowned upon. So stamps it was. Collecting them was not the hard part. You pillage, plunder and steal and before you know it you have three assorted boxes full of stamps of various origins containing diverse saliva. The two of the three boxes are in your friend’s house for the time being (till she dies a premature death). You owe 90% of your collection to your uncle who has been looking for his stamps to date.
It’s the categorization and organization that gets tricky. Now to trade stamps, you need to be able to display your wares in a professional manner. Sitting in boxes, under the bed, they end up getting stuck to each other in the heat and no one in their right frame of mind would exchange stamps with you. You dream of filing them all in a fancy album, carefully labeled with notes of the origin and history of each stamp. The exciting world, past and present, lies before you in the form of tiny bits of paper with serrated edges. You coax your parents to buy you a stamp book and they threaten to stop your weekly subscription to Amar Chitra Katha. So you use up all your pocket money to buy this album and curse Amar Chitra Katha for having such a strong hold on you.
The air in the room fills up with excitement when you actually are able to put your plan to action sorting them into different countries- Bharat, India, Malawi, Danmark, etc.. Then you put them in tiny covers and label them while they wait to get displayed on the album as their final destination. A rare Japanese stamp of a panda bear keeps you occupied in admiration for some time. You know it’s rare coz none of your friends have it. A circular one, a triangular one and you know you are probably the most sought after Philatelic in the parts. A smile.
Blue, pink, orange, yellow, green... these guys are so unoriginal. One more of these pesky little queen stamps, you just want to scream. Ok here goes..aaaaaaaaagggggrrrhhhh! How come you have too many Indian stamps? Way too many. No sucker wants to trade your 35 paisa Gandhi stamp with their Madagascar butterfly one. Wonder if these family planning stamps are really spreading the message? Or are they being delivered at the same rate as the babies? Who is Deendayal Upadhyaya and why is he important enough to be made a stamp of? Oh look, here’s the Leonardo Da Vinci one. Muah. Stick it next to the Mona Lisa. How cool!
Ouch your back hurts a little, your vision gets slightly blurred. Now you mechanically start distributing stamps without taking personal interest in them. Soon you start clubbing continents, as the space on your bed has become limited. Your brain is saturated and drained at the same time. You are at it for the last 12 hours and you aren’t even half way done. Numbness ensues and quickly you start gasping for breath. You look at the clock- its hours past midnight and if you don’t stop this now, you will probably throw them all out of the window in disgust(keeping a few rare ones of course). Overdoing things has always been a biggest cause of waning of exuberant interest that was once displayed. You are completely spent and bored out of your wits. With the last ounce of energy left, you clear the junk off your bed before you stagger and hit the pillow. Another day passes with only half your desires fulfilled.
Life is like collecting stamps. You collect little dreams, ideas, thoughts; some hackneyed and some rare. You want to compile those ideas, make an scrap book of your thoughts and implement a plan to realize those dreams. As you begin to execute them eagerly, you sometimes get tired, breathless, abandon interest and before you know it, you are 60. It’s time to retire. Time to complete that stamp album.