Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Missing Philatelists

The kid next door to me wanted a stamp of Canada for some sort of exhibition in his school. As I dusted out my old stamp book, I was struck by the kid's lack of knowledge or interest in the hobby. When we were growing up(10 years back, I'm not that old), philately was a big hobby. We had a gang of stamp aficionados, and would set off on our stamp quest every weekend, seeking out new bakras to exchange stamps with. We would target those kids who had a large philatelic inheritance and seek out friendships with them, just for stamps. Boy were those days fun!!!! Not only that, got to learn a lot from the whole hobby.

But nowadays I see a distinct lack of interest in philately in the young people of today. They are not simply bothered, they play cricket, watch T.V. and go to sleep. If you are lucky, you might find them reading something other than textbooks. I was pondering over this demise of the hobby for quite a while and the search for the answer led to the question as to why WE collected stamps. The answer was of one word. Curiosity.

Ours was an innocent age. Mobiles were a feet long, there were 10 cable channels and of course internet was something rich kids had. There was no information overload, no screaming anchors or no 24*7 internet. And we had curiosity about the world. I remember how thrilled I used to be when I would get a stamp from a far off country like Burukina Faso(bet kids haven't even heard that name). How I would place it on the map and look up the Manorama year Book to read all about it. I remember how I learnt about the British Boer wars and the Angkor Wat because of a stamp.

Come to think of it, Its amazing how much you can learn from a square inch of paper. How much of history is hidden in there, waiting to be explored. I would owe a lot of my knowledge to those pieces of paper.

Of course, kids today have wikipedia and what not. Their curiosity(whatever remains of it) is satisfeid by a few types on the keyboard. And in the process, a lot of magic goes missing. And so does a whole world of stamps and the stories behind them.

This is one of the many quaint ways technology has impacted the way we live. We revel in the connectivity but have we ever taken a moment to think what are the little things that we have lost due to technology. If we do, I am sure each one of us could come up with many quant little things that we dont see any more.

Gosh!!! Writing this has made me seem older, it all seems so long ago. And in a slight irony, I am logging on to Facebook now to look out for my old stamp buddies.