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Living On The Edge

"Incidentally, our ancestral home, too, is located on the edge of another borderline of two states between Meghalaya and Assam."

Living On The Edge

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  11 Sep 2022 2:00 PM GMT

Kamal Baruah

(The writer can be reached at kamalbaruah@yahoo.com)

Thrill-seeking people push themselves to the edge in their heyday. The rare occasion of close-up selfies at the international border made sightseers crazy. A tour of that situation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as tourists flock from neighbouring Dawki to Tawang, Zero Point, Wagah border and Pangong-Tso-Lake that truly fascinated travelers to go along the Line of Actual Control. But the most happening incident of Nathula Pass was memorable while we saw hostile enemy at the mountain passes shaking hands with Indians. I felt like discovering another mini Great Wall of China, where soldiers of both countries are patrolling and gathering intelligence on the inside track of the border.

Incidentally, our ancestral home, too, is located on the edge of another borderline of two states between Meghalaya and Assam. Therefore, the postal address is often hard to locate for a postman. Geographically, our place is demarcated by a rivulet that bifurcates into two Postal Index Numbers. However, the tales of woes continue whenever we get mail. There are many occasions of undelivered mail on the ground of insufficient address. We just wonder what went wrong, where there is no other so-called bye-lane of a maddening city but actually a kachchi sadak (no concrete road) through a terrain following a waterway route.

Not long ago I was eagerly tracking one important consignment from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to my permanent address at a border village, but to my disappointment, the mail was redirected to the neighbouring Sub Post Office (SPO). The current status of track consignment gave us all a shock. The parcel was out for delivery but failed to be delivered. By the time it was evening a day prior to a holiday and the SPO was closed then. The uncertainty made the wait seem longer. It was such a rush to get ready on Monday morning. The woe of riding on stony mountain track was another thing of my mind and I kicked my bike so as to catch up early to stop the mail van from redirecting. However, the Google Maps took me to the destination through street maps. Shockingly, there was no direction anywhere on the way but I had no doubt whatsoever because it was the only road that goes to the border state.

I checked my timing at 0930 hours while the red and orange logo caught my attention that signifies India Post carrying emotion across physical distances. I saw an old dilapidated structure serving as SPO. The Department of Post has the most widely distributed postal network of 1.5 lakh Post Offices in the world, but there must be a vision for resurgent India Post. As the saying goes "rain, snow, sleet or hail, someone else can deliver the packages and mail". I looked through the collapsible grill of galvanized steel in the hope of coming across some information about that undelivered mail. The door opened for a while to see the awaiting visitors outside. Alas, it closed down again.

Soon it was 10 o'clock; the customers were called one after another through a half-opened door. As I conveyed my details; the door was shut again, no matter how unfair it seemed as they had to search mails high and low. I sat down to rest on a stone and stayed awhile. The sound effects of stamping envelopes became louder. I was delighted that the post office must have on job then. Unlike other servicing sectors where there is a large lobby for customers' convenience most of the Post Offices are not designed well. Even the minimal requirements of seating arrangement are not being provided.

After a couple of minutes, I noticed someone pushing the half-opened door horizontally, when the khaki-clad postman begun delivering a pile of yellow, brown, blue and white envelopes which I was longing for that half-opened happiness too. I tried to convey to him the difficulties we all are facing in receiving mail often, but he was scribbling away like nobody's business. Perhaps not surprisingly, the postmen are momentarily unfamiliar with the PIN on our blurred borderline. Probably the incident was reflecting another satire on sarkari work culture, while I was experiencing a harrowing inconvenience. India Post kept me waiting for a couple of days but that yellow envelope of MEA aroused pleasure tinged with a hard day's work over hills and far away.

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