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Dear stranger, you’ve just got a letter from another

Group of people come together in the city to take requests to pen and send handwritten mails to friends, family

Published: 15th March 2017 10:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2017 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

A group of participants at a letter-writing workshop in the city

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Nearly all of us have had a penfriend and been excited about sending and receiving letters. But have you ever written a letter to a complete stranger, who you know nothing of?
The Good Will Tribe, a group that started its Bengaluru chapter in 2015, organizes such letter writing workshops in Dubai and India, in collaboration with Letter Earthlings, a group based out of Sri Lanka. They receive requests from people across the world to send letters to their friends or family, and they ask volunteers to pen them. The requests could be to send birthday wishes or to motivate people who are going through some tough time in their lives.

It’s Not Easy
Though it sounds interesting, it could be challenging too. A participant at Good Will Tribe’s letter writing workshop, Haleem Sherif, says, “It is difficult to put down thoughts in a way that does not offend anyone. You cannot share anything intensely personal because you barely know anything about the recipient. All you know is the brief that is shared by a friend or family.” Another participant Sanandan Ratkal adds, “Also, there is a fear if your message could be misunderstood by the recipient.”
It is usually easier when you are writing to your friend, says Shruti Krishna, another participant. She adds, “But I like the whole idea of anonymity.”

Why Ask a Stranger?
But why would one depend on a third person to write a letter to their loved ones? Soumya John, a co-founder of Good Will Tribe, says, “Well, it could be because they may not know how to write a complete compelling letter. They may need some assistance to articulate the message in a letter. Also, when you receive a letter from an unknown person from anywhere in the world, it is overwhelming. Sometimes, it is good to have a third person’s perspective too.”
In a digital age where emails send quick messages, handwritten letters give you more time to think, says Soumya. “The content is different when you type an e-mail. When you write, it is raw and honest. It may be messy but beautiful. What you write is the naked truth.”

If you want to send request for letters to friends and family, all you need to do is fill out a Google form. Soumya says, “We receive requests to send letters to people who have gone through heartbreaks or need motivation...  The weirdest request we have ever received would be from someone who requested we send a letter to a ‘cute and fashionable girl’, as he described her, on her 21st birthday. We didn’t know how to approach it. We just sent her love on her birthday. That was weird.”
Flooded With Requests
They say they get more than 50 requests a month. “We have closed the forms for a while and we will start again once we send letters to all,” she says.
Can it get creepy, bombarding letters a stranger with letters? Akshi Shah from Good Will Tribe says, “We get mixed responses but most people like receiving letters. One fine morning, when they wake up to these letters and feel good about it.”   The letter writing workshop was held at Dialogues café recently.

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