Losing out @ IT
The human face of mail, the postman, is a fading personality in the IT age. PRASANTH. M regrets the loss.
THERE WAS an air of expectancy surrounding his arrival. People used to look out with bated breath for the man in khaki to bring news from kith and kin in faraway places. The postman was a very important member in their lives. He was with them in their joys and sorrows.
But the last one and a half decades has seen a communication revolution in the country. Kerala has welcomed this revolution with open arms and together with the advent of courier services in cities and towns, it has had a telling effect on the traditional forms of communication. Thus, the life of a postman has undergone a change from its conventional role.
Registered posts, money orders, parcels that reach post offices today have declined in number and letter writing is fast becoming a dying habit. Other mediums like money transfers, telephone, fax and e-mails facilitate faster exchanges and better communication and they have become the order of the day for the people. So, the role of a postman has taken a beating. From a situation where his arrival was most eagerly anticipated, the postman has suddenly become the forgotten man of the public.
In the good old days, a postman delivered thousands and thousands of letters into expectant hands. He covered several kilometres and had an emotional bonding with the people. He could walk into any house, be it of a top official or an ordinary man. An easily identifiable figure in the society, he was given utmost respect by the public. He was invited to attend all the important functions in the area and his presence was a privilege to the host. But sadly, all these are becoming a thing of the past in the life of a postman.
The pattern of his work too has witnessed a change. Rather than covering kilometres, a postman has to climb up and down the concrete jungles in cities like Kochi. Nowadays, post boxes are installed in front of gates or beneath the flats and the postman has to merely drop the letter into that box. A. V. Devadas, who has been in the service for 21 years says, " Though this has made the job easier, it deprives one of having personal contact with the people, something that we used to enjoy earlier." In a fast bustling city like Kochi today, a postman performs his duties without ever being noticed.
With the number of articles to be delivered coming down, the number of postmen working in a post office has been reduced. Though the last Pay Commission increased a postman's salary, it is still insufficient to give him a comfortable life, the postman feels.
A. N. Prakasan, Sorting Postman of the Ernakulam Head Post Office, who has been in the profession for the past 38 years says, " It is a job that has given me immense satisfaction. I treasure the khaki uniform, umbrella and the pair of sandals the department has provided me." But he too agrees that the high profile status enjoyed by a postman is slowly fading down.
With new technologies for communication springing up every other day, the role of a postman, especially in the cities and towns, is under threat. In the years to come, postmen may well become an extinct class. Will a postman be confined to the history textbooks of school children in times to come is a question that begs an answer.
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