Saturday, October 15, 2011

On stamps- that stamped my life

I remember starting off with a stamp collection in 5th grade. Something in me moved, seeing all those pictures and colours and history captured in a small frame and I guess my love for history too began with my stamp collection. I must admit my father was my staunch supporter, and supplied me with stamps from different Arab countries ( thankfully we got letters posted those days with no internet around). But its my mom and her friends at work from different parts of the world who build up my humble collection. Back then getting stamps from letters sent from India was a lovely experience. Those were also times as chidlren we were all asked to take up a hobby. Many stuck to stamp albums and soon we began trading for stamps. Since we all got the stamps of same kinds mostly ( from Arab countires, Indian subcontinent or Africa) these collections ended very soon. My sister and brother were enthusiastic to support me initially but as we grew they got their own hobbies and I was left back with my albums.

I have spend endless hours looking at them, learning from them, categorizing them. The very process of wetting theenvelopes to extracting the stamps ensuring I dont tear the edges to drying and putting them up in albums has been such an aesthetic experience to me. Till date if I find a stamp on a lost cover on a desk , I cant resist begging to the owner to give me the stamp. And to me this is no unscholarly activity. If I remember few countries todays its thanks to my stamps :)

At this point in time being a research scholar I often feel kiddish begging for stamps but I request any friend going abroad to post me a post card with a stamp so that I can extract the stamps from them.

I got acquainted to the art of philately very late in life and it amazed me then and still does that there are individuals who study stamps even without collecting one even once in life. And they are equipped with stamp tongs and magnifying glass to study the rarity of stamps and the processes associated with their making and collecting. I am still a novice in this area and am happy collecting and enjoying them.

My Life with stamps took a swirl 2 years back when my friend from Germany gave me his collection of stamps. We never spoke of our interest for stamps all the while Thomas was at my institute and then during my stay in Padova we spoke about this passion. Maybe he was done with collecting or was overjoyed with my interest and he told me he would share his collection. But I would prefer the term ' inheriting the collection' to 'sharing'. Because one fine afternoon , there arrived a heavy DHL parcel at my instittue office in Chennai and to the surprise of all who urged me to open this covetous parcel from Germany, there came out nearly 12 large stamp albums with stamps more than the albums could hold.

The photos of stamps in this post are some of those precious ones from Thomas's collection. And this post is dedicated to you Thomas. Two years down the line I have still not sorted the stamps satisfactorily. I guess Thomas got tired or busy at some point of time collecting because I got so many envelopes with stamps on which I finished extracting recently. And it has been a pleasure adopting them into my small family of 4 albums. Dear Thomas you made my life with your collection.

And I wonder how an individual could trust me with his entire collection and make me feel so proud. This is perhaps the best gift of my life and they will always be close to my heart. Thanks Thomas for these.

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