When it is the last day of a working week, you usually expect a long queue outside. But it was a different scene at the post office on Anna Salai that wore a deserted look. Except for the officer behind the glass clicking away at his computer, there was no other noise, not even the whirring of the fans. It was the day before telegram services were slated to close, as only the CTO would be open on Sunday. The number of people coming in to send a telegram for one last time was reduced to a trickle.
Officers in most of the city’s telegraph officers unanimously agreed on one point: the swamp of people coming in to send telegrams had increased almost 50 per cent since the government announced the closure of the service. And a major part of the telegrams sent in these last few days were from history enthusiasts, families wanting to relive some memories and people born in the telegram-era, bringing in their children to show them how it worked. By the time it closed, the Anna Salai post office saw 400 odd telegrams on Saturday alone.
“It’s such a nice thing to see people sending telegrams, even it is to themselves. It’s been a long time since we’ve sent so many telegrams so quickly,” reminisced an officer.
Meanwhile, at the Mambalam telegraph office, the supervisor M Shankar was filling up a few telegrams of his own. “We’ve around 150 people send telegrams today. I’m just upping that number,” he said cheekily. The office, which usually saw policemen, lawyers and army officers send important and urgent telegrams, only had reminiscing 70-year-old grandpas sending telegrams to themselves and eager parents bringing school children in to show them a piece of history.
“Ever since I heard that the service was closing, I wanted to send one to myself, just to preserve history,” said 67-year-old Krishnamoorthy who had come in to send a telegram. “It used to be such a fast way to communicate. I know modern technology has improved by leaps and bounds and the telegram has become outdated, but it’s to let go of it,” he added.
“Announcing the closing of the service has just increased the popularity of the service. Too bad it is going to stop,” said Shankar.
Rajaji Salai’s telegraph office, where most of the telegrams came from the Madras High Court a couple of buildings away was almost empty. S Dhananjayadu who has worked in that office for nearly 24 years said, “It will be the rare person or two who hops into this office today. It’s a slow day.”