Thursday, June 22, 2006

Life stamped

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.

34 comments:

bloghopper said...

Very true ! My dad is an avid stamp collector and these days he threatens me to get him stamp albums from the US ! You know those that dont get soiled by repeated touches and look neat at every philatelic exhibition. If you get those neat albums, pliss to inform me.

:-) said...

darling post. :-) Along with stamps I also used to collect match box labels in my childhood. Each label has a story behind it. :-)

anantha said...

Okie.. are you sure it was a Japanese stamp? Cos Pandas are native to China and China only!
You might want to brush up that part of your geography and zoology and what not. And do check your email as well.
And ya, my collection started from my uncles and then expanded to include my bro-in-law's set too.
There were also some encounters with crooked stamp sellers who sold "stamps" from dingy stores by a stone's throw from Ranganathan Street!

alpha said...

bh: Wish I could help uncleji. But I'll find out and let you know. Man, I abandoned stamps long long ago. Last time i touched a stamp album was an hour ago to take that picture. that album is old.

:-): Match box labels?..in childhood that too. Does every story involve you walking into a candy house and jumping into an icecream pool? Smoking joints usually does that to people.

anti: which is why I said it was a rare stamp. A rare panda in Japan. there was one guy in vidya vihar who sold stamps in the corner..seemed rather shady. i never bought stamps. only stole.

B o o said...

So true. Every word. Except that my sister did all that you mentioned above and I just flaunted the goods as my own in school! ;)

Rajagopal said...

This brings back so many menmories - some good, some embaraasing. I remember buying stamps from that shop in Shanti Vihar in Mylapore (most of those stamps were fake - you know like 50 stamps for Rs20 or 30 or whatever ). I became friends with my closest friends in school after the scoundrels screwed me over royally in a stamp exchange in the fifth standard - we will still have a chuckle at that incident if we meet.

Another time, a friend's classmate somehow got the address of a postmaster of a town in Singapore (Bikut Timah) who would send you some stamps if you sent him a self-addressed envelope. This character wouldn't share the address with us. Me and my friend plotted to find out the address and what an adventure that was (we did find out the address and we did get some stamps).

Ravages said...

Has nobody else read the last paragraph here?
Alpha, you couldn't have ended the post better.

GratisGab said...

yes...never such a thing as too many stamps. or too many dreams.

sail on girlfriend!

D.N.A. said...

I'll leave the sentimental parts to others....

"You owe 90% of your collection to your uncle who has been looking for his stamps to date."

Hits very close to home. Some of my rare stamps belongs to some of my till date buddies, and I dare not spoken about it to anybody else....

திருட்டு மாங்கா ருசிக்கும்.....

Zoheb said...

You look quite young for ur age. I had no idea you were 60.

alpha said...

boo: Atrocious! btw, that photo courtesy was actually Pi's stamp album. heh!

rajagopal: man, you are a super dooper serious collector what with buying fake stuff and all. i know..the fake stuff looked ..mm..so fake. had even fake post mark on it.

ravages: thanks machi.

gabby: ae you planning on giving me your stamps in exchange for my dreams?

dna: ok, high time you returned all those mangoes you stole from my garden.

alpha said...

zo: now that you are already in shock..it's easier to tell you I am turning 30. when the shock factor reverses, somewhere I hope it would get canceled.

D.N.A. said...

So you can read tamil afterall.....not bad at all, I say...

Rationale said...

Where I grew up, it was first stickers and then you wont believe it... tiles! (Tiny pieces of ceramic from god knows where) I tried my hand at both but never got very far when it came to trading em!

(I once had a gal actually come upto me asking for gold-coins in exchange for her crystal blue tile!)

Ash said...

Well well, what's got you into this pensive mood, Alpha ?

alpha said...

dna: if it came across like I was trying to impress you..I'm sorry.

rationale: tiles? everyonein bahrain was looking for future career in bathroom building? i have some stark white ones...nothing less than 7 dinars

ash: the dentist's office

Anonymous said...

tbfkaa: pandas can be found in orissa too. ever been to that part of the world?

:-): stamps and matchboxes? me too, and also kanyakumari sand and ... thank you, 'echo book of hobbies'.

alpha: re: "gabby: ae you planning on giving me your stamps in exchange for my dreams?" it appears that your dreams have gabby's stamp of approval. btw, before i forget, congrats on becoming alpha.pe!

- s.b.

Ravi V said...

ya ya Royalty bhi mil jaegi - u need to collect it from Bombay tho! - EC

Chakri said...

Hi alphoo,

happy 30th bday.

Cadencia said...

Hey! It's your birthday???? Happy birthday, man! You joined the 30+ brigade too :D! We likes!!

Have a lovely one, Alpha! And an even better year!

alpha said...

s.b: what are you doing in Oriya zoos? Are you saying my panda stamp may not be rare afterall?
Thanks. Even i used to collet sand in my shoes.. didnt know till today it could have been a hobby.

EC- areay wah...start blogging now..that'll be the royalties you pay.

chakri: sushhh! one day too early..let me enjoy my twenties for sometime.

maddie: What cheap thrills I say! thanks.

Me said...

happy bday alpha..btw did pi arrange a surprise party....

:-) said...

alpha: I know its hard to believe. But during those days Match Box industry was pretty much small scale. Distribution and retail was not established then. So almost every town used to have their own labels. Except for few hits like Three Mangoes, Tiger, Man and Lion etc.

Now, did I tell you about my Cigerette Labels collection?

WA said...

Happy Birthday Alpha, trust me it only gets better

Anonymous said...

wa:

umm... what is the definition of "it"?

- s.b. (original question from bill clinton)

Anonymous said...

Lovely ending....

- Amethyst

alpha said...

sb- if u find out, let me know

amethyst- thanks.

alpha said...

me, a surprise outting. much fun.

Anonymous said...

alpha:

re: "s.b: what are you doing in Oriya zoos? Are you saying my panda stamp may not be rare afterall?"

meant to respond to this but forgot ... http://tinyurl.com/z8v4c - haa!

- s.b.

hithaz said...

Really interesting blog u have going on :)

blogsurfer said...

What are you looking for today?

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The Visitor said...

So here we see Alpha - The philosopher. :)