First of all, I’m so pleased and thankful to everyone who has written back saying that they have found Take-A-Step Thursday an interesting idea and that they are quite eager to participate. I created this little weekly blogging event exactly a month ago and it is slowly but surely picking up and getting good feedback. Thank you so very much to the event’s participants who have been inspired in different ways – Stu of Snailzpace Daily for creating a group blog, Ashley of The Bookish Obsession for sharing an inspirational quote and Kez of The Little Novice for writing a letter dedicated to her childhood mentor.
Speaking of letters, I was a big letter-writer back in the day. In fact, it’s one of the things I miss the most before internet and mobile phones took over. I was introduced to this activity at a very young age by my father who would send letters regularly to our relatives and to my sister who was studying in India. In my childish handwriting, I would write silly jokes and riddles that I’d read somewhere and enthusiastically share the meagre happenings of my life as a seven or eight year old with my sister and cousins.
In my pre-teen years, the screeching and groaning dial-up internet connection had already made its way into our home but I was quite wary of using it as a way of making new friends through chat-rooms because you never knew who was on the other side.
I don’t remember when, how or where I heard about pen-paling but the whole concept of writing a letter to someone whom you’ve never met before in a different part of the world was very intriguing. Finding a legitimate way of acquiring a pen pal was not easy back then so my little world consisted of writing letters only to my family. I then roped in a school classmate to be my pen pal. The funny thing is, we would see each other in class everyday but would still get excited on receiving letters in our mailboxes that contained silly secrets and gossip about our other classmates and more commonly, boys.
In my mid-teens, I shifted to India for about a year and continued writing to my parents and sister (who were in Dubai), pouring my grievances and troubles onto paper and basically just being a complaining brat. I would also write letters to a bunch of faithful school best friends who had also relocated to different parts of India. Of course, I would also occasionally chat with friends and family on Yahoo and MSN Messenger in cyber cafés (remember those good ol’ days?) but the real thrill was waiting for the postman to arrive and tearing open the envelope to read familiar handwriting that would put a huge grin on my face. 😀
And then along came broadband and shifted everyone’s attention to full time emailing and chatting. Mobile phones and messaging became cheaper. Social media, instant messaging and smart phones swept us off our feet. Letter writing was sadly, a forgotten thing of the past.
Those days contain some of my best childhood memories. I have saved each and every letter and birthday card that was sent to me with so much love and every now and then, I take them out and read words that still speak to me with so much character. Those were happy and simple times where you would only stay in touch with the people you genuinely liked and not have to worry about interpreting what people said or didn’t say online.
I was reminded of my unfulfilled dream of having a pen pal from another part of the world when I saw it as a goal on DayZero Project, and I did not hesitate for a second to put it on my 101 in 1001 list! Of course, I still had no idea how to find a real pen pal. I know there are many websites that cater exclusively to finding pen pals but I am very iffy about putting up my personal details online.
A couple of weeks ago, I came across Kate’s 101 in 1001 list and saw that she too had the same goal. I commented on her post, things took off from there, and we are now international pen pals!
I have to confess. I hadn’t written a letter in several years and had no clue how to begin! What would I write to a person who I’d never met before? How would I introduce myself? How would I address her? What stationery would I use? So many of these questions ran through my mind. I was so excited at the prospect of pen-paling that I didn’t want to mess it up. The words that so easily flowed from my thoughts onto paper as a young girl were now failing me. Eventually, I got over my momentary ‘paper fright’ and wrote my first introductory letter.
It’s funny how the things that seemed so normal before were now such a big deal! My handwriting was no longer tidy and my fingers were stiff because I hadn’t actually written anything so lengthy in a very long time. Words struggled to come out with confidence so I typed out a list of things on my computer before actually writing them on paper. Even the nondescript acts of going to the post office, weighing and sealing the envelope, buying postage stamps, sticking them on and lastly, opening the squeaky mouth of the red letter box and watching the envelope being engulfed into its big cast iron belly were all things that I had done so many times before and yet it felt like I was doing them for the very first time. But the whole process brought back so many lovely memories which I thoroughly loved revisiting.
Finally my little letter was now on its around-the-world journey across several seas and an ocean to make its way into Kate’s hands! I’m now looking forward to the day when I open my mail box and find an actual letter inside and not just a bill or a bank statement. Oh, for life’s simple pleasures! 🙂
What has inspired you this week and caused you to take a step in the direction of your choice? Participate in Take-A-Step Thursday by following the steps mentioned in this post.