UBC Day 16 : The Last Telegram

We saw the end of an era. Our 163 year old telegram service was shut down on 14th July 2013.

I remember, as a kid, going to the post office in our colony and sending telegrams to relatives on behalf of parents.  Those days we used telegrams mostly for sending greetings for Diwali and New Year and also about informing about ‘Reached safely’ or ‘Girls have passed their exams’ or ‘Reaching on 16th’ etc.

I am regretting not sending the last telegram to Aaryan, as a kind of souvenir. I am sure he has never ever seen a telegram. While, I was mulling over this loss of a memorable opportunity, I remembered something…

Like a woman on a mission, perched on a high stool, I searched for a bag full of memories, which lay on the upper shelf of a cupboard.

Soon enough, I found my object of desire…  seeing it brought back so many memories…

It was 1995, KG and I were dating and had decided to spend our lives together. KG was posted in Indore then and I was in Jaipur. Letters and cards were the main means of communication between us, though sometimes we spoke over the phone too. I remember the STD rates were so high then and mobiles were still unknown to us.

One evening in February 1995, when I returned back from work, my mother gave me a piece of paper with a smile. I was curious and amazed at the same time. It was a telegram! Without much ado when I read the message in the telegram, it not only brought some smiles but some happy tears too.

It was a telegram from KG. While the mother and sisters could understand the message, they couldn’t decipher (O-Y-S).  Of course, KG must have filled the form as OY’s and the person in the post office typed it as O-Y-S. (It should be OYs though, I guess).

Seeing it today, again, brought some more happy smiles…


Can you see, the way his name is spelt here. He has such a nice and a unique name (ok, not so unique now-a-days) and how it has been mutilated to Satish!!

I asked KG, if he remembered sending a telegram to me. His answer as expected, was a “No”. And when I showed it to him, he said, “Did I send this?” and in the next breath, he added, “You are not blogging about this, are you?”. I smiled and got busy in keeping this prized possession in my bag, but not before seeing him roll his eyes!

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59 thoughts on “UBC Day 16 : The Last Telegram

  1. The telegram doesn’t look 18 yrs old, you have preserved it really well :)… They changed your husband’s name ! I have heard about stories where telegrams gave wrong messages because of the limited words used 🙂 I have never sent or received a telegram .. so no memories associated with it !

    • No special preservation efforts, just kept safely in a folder! 😛
      His name is Kshitij and since it is difficult to pronounce and spell, some people simply call him Satish! 😛

    • I was going to say the exact same thing 😛 Actually don’t remember sending and receiving telegrams other than composing them for the English class.

      Such nice memories here Shilpa 🙂

    • @ Smita and Swaram : Men, I tell you!! 😀
      I have all the letters and cards that we had exchanged then. They make for some good hearty laughs and warm smiles every Diwali, when I do spring cleaning! 😀
      Oh, yes, writing telegram messages were part of our curriculum too 😀

  2. If we received any telegram when I was young, people would panic and would want to know if it is any bad news! Otherwise, inland letters and post cards were quite common. Yes, the telephone killed all of them and the cell phone has killed the telephone. What would kill the cell phone, now? Preserve your’s so that you can write a blog post after another 17 years showing an antique cell phone! 🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • True, mostly the telegrams were associated with a bad news.
      Wonder what would make cell phones obsolete… a micro chip in the body, perhaps!

  3. Nice of you to keep all these memories alive, by 1) safekeeping 2) blogging. I have never sent a telegram, but I’ve received one from my Dad when I was in a camp (way back in 1996) and hadn’t sent any letters / made calls for close to a month. It was short & curt. “Dead or Alive!” it said, and I got a dressing down from my camp commandants who made sure I wrote back a long long letter. The telegram sure served its purpose, aye!

    • Thanks RGB. Yes, I remember reading about your participation in NCC – Republic Day Camp. Wow… that’s a wow! telegram from your father 😉

  4. Awww……so cute….were you married in 95? Me too the same year in june:)
    LOL at your husband asking if you are blogging about it.
    Yes, telegrams….i remember it brought all kinds of news. But, whenever the post man said’Telegram”. All of us would rush out praying to god. We wanted only good news. An era ends with it. I wish i too had gone to the post office to send the last telegram to any family member.

    • We got married in 1997.
      The family members of we bloggers now know very well that we are crazy enough to write/do anything for our blogs 😀
      Yes, wish had known about it a bit earlier… would have definitely sent one last telegram! Sad, we missed it!

  5. Preserve the telegram and you can show it to yr grandkids. I had to explain to my son about the telegram era. But a telegram , for me, has evoked more scare than joy. I would always fell it was the harbinger of bad news.

    • Laminated!! KG would think oops believe oops get confirmation…. (I guess, he already knows it) that I am raving mad! OMG!! Guess, it is safe on this blog now!! 😀

    • I have bags full of such old things. Have all the cards and letters that we have exchanged. They make for some fun reading and reliving old memories every now and then! 🙂

  6. What an amazing keepsake!! In this day and age of electronic means we just don’t have these types of things to treasure. My folks always got each other the loveliest greeting cards for all occasions. When my Dad died and I was going through his desk, I was touched and moved that he had kept every single one. This is priceless and you are so lucky to have it!! It is hard to save a text message of love, but something like this you can keep forever!


    • I can relate to your experience on seeing your father’s cards. Every now and then when I read these old cards and letters, it is such an heartwarming experience, I can smile for days together on remembering them. True, now we are in this tech age, though it has it plus points but it cannot match the charm of these old cards, letters. 🙂

  7. Hi shilpa

    I got reminded of that character in ‘the sound of music ‘ obsessed with telegrams . That’s a sweet souvinier 🙂 I remember a few people used to be terrified of telegrams as it usually brought some bad news

  8. This is so adorable! and such a precious piece of memory you have there, Shilpa! In recent times, we never bothered about telegrams till now, when it finally retired… i feel sad somehow 🙁

  9. One of the sweetest posts, Shilpa! Awwww at OY’s!

    I felt rather sad to read about the end of telegram service! Although it was, to a large extent, synonymous with ‘bad news’, it did deliver some wonderfully heartfelt messages too, like the one you’ve shared of KG.

    An end of an era, hai na!

    • Thanks Deeps. Glad you enjoyed reading this. True… telegrams have marked an end of an era. Though feeling sad, but am glad that we were a part of that era! 🙂

  10. such a cute post Shilpa 🙂 I an actually expect my husband to react same if I asked him something of this sort. He doesn’t remember anything from our courtship period or so it seems 😀 Wow Shilpa it must have been such a lovely souvenir 🙂

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