I was rummaging through the old drawer in search of a lost novel, when I hit  upon a neat stack of letters at the bottom. There were multi coloured envelopes, affixed with quaint little stamps of USA. It has almost been a decade now. I fell into a retrospective mood…

The letters were from my ex pen pal – Erin Noble hailing from Illinois, US.I was in high school, when I received the first letter of its kind. I was truly on cloud nine. In those days when getting a personal letter itself was a matter of much pride, receiving one from an alien friend from another part of the world, called for an extreme case of vanity.

This pen-pal ship was initiated through an exchange program by 'Young World'. The acquaintance soon blossomed into a wonderful friendship through a series of letters. Each letter was eagerly awaited; read & re read a zillion times; showcased around to poor buddies(poor = no pen pals) & finally a lengthy reply drafted.

Like many contemporaries, Erin Noble’s India represented a land of tigers & snake charmers. Probably, Americans watched too much of Discovery Channel. It must have been real hard on Erin’s part, to believe, that I didn’t live in a tree house , surrounded by dense rain forest, crawling with snakes & tigers

To make matters worst, I was unofficially declared as their mentor/guide for summer project, which involved a study of tigers. I didn’t have the heart to tell that, the only tigers I have seen are the ones in zoos & the only fact I know is they are India’s national animal. So the next 2 days, I sweated it out in the library, trying my hands on translation work of a Malayalam book “ tigers of India”.

We exchanged cards on all occasions. Once I received a pink envelope, scribbled with “don’t open before 14th ”. For an uninitiated gal to whom Valentines Day existed only in the pages of the novels she read, it was a pleasant surprise. Thus Erin Noble became my first ever Valentine at the tender age of 13.

Then, there were 2 other pals, rather e-pals: Heron El Khwaja from Egypt & Jung Hwa from Korea.

Heron El Khwaja is an engineer from Cairo, Egypt.. After exchanging a few mails , it suddenly dawned on me that El Khwaja rhymed with Al Quaida & timely ended what I believed was a disastrous friendship. Another result of my “ chronic suspicion syndrome”:)

Jung Hwa is a fiery young gal from Korea, pursuing her studies in medicine. Being a Korean, English language was never one of her finer points. But her communication skills were excellent to an extend, where I could imagine the beauty of her vivid descriptions. I still remember her descriptions of her winter music camp, where they huddled around a campfire in the picturesque woods singing, when gentle snowflakes danced all around them. She is an excellent example of how language can never be a barrier to effective communication


as a kid I had penpals too... wonder where they are these days..

ajish said... 5:58 PM  

That innocent valentine’s day card really is interesting…..especially if we get it during school days and from the other part of world….

droppin in after a reely long time.. reely cause i've been busy making movies , that is apart from other crazy things.. like changing jobs n stuff..
i've had a few friends myself.. like this girl i was tryin to hit on on the plane at the tender age of 10 or something.. and who said she had a grandfather from poonjab.. heh heh.. but sad none of them lasted beyond a few years..
PS: i read your reply to my last comment only now..
(*wink wink*)

@ thanu: i too used 2 think, where they r now & it'll be nice 2 resume those old friendship..it'z soo nice to read thru' a loong handwritten mail, in these days of instant messaging

@ ajish: i'z quite excited to get vday card:), but my mom was not!!!heheee..a comment frm middle east'z alwayz welcome:)

@toothlesswonder: making movies!! u seems to have ur hands full with quite a lot of activities...keep going.. poonjab was funny:)

but my hands are empty.. hah hah hah..
i've put up a trailer to the movie at my blog.. http://toothlesswonder.blogspot.com

looks like your office proxy doesnt support streaming video.
you're on a bsnl line, so it shouldnt normally have happened, but i dont see another reason.

i'm confused.. :|

That was a nice post. Really remember those days of 'Young World'. I always wanted to have a pen-pal abroad, but Achan always chanted that pen-pals should be in India. Little did I know that his loan-drunk salaries will be stretched by mails to 'onsite'. :)
But its really nice to get to know with the people of other cultures, I thankfully got the chance to have some nice friends in US.

hmmmm.... for a moment... i too got lost in my teen years....
how r u honey???

@popabhi: so u got " onsite" opportunities, very early in life itself :)))) it'zz so wonderful to know, how people of our age lives in other parts of the world... hope u settled down after u jumped out of ur 'comfort zone'

@preety: nice to see ya here... anyway, did i tell ya , i found out ur blog looong back, though u tried hard not to...heheheee... that'z via celestefriendz...:)))

Hey i also had penfriends...
even one was my crush..(now also she doesnt knw tat..;))
But all of them i met in some camp or another..
and all inside kerala..;(
but the feeling of getting a letter from a person whom u have never seen or have remotest chance of seeing again(if seen once as in my case..)is so beautiful.
and u have caught that feeling remarkably well..kudos..

@neermathalam: it's great to share ur feelings with somebody whom u will never meet in your lifetime..you need to have no inhibitions or worry about being judged...

Anonymous said... 7:59 AM  

thats stupid i do not believe in pen pals

Anonymous said... 8:01 AM  

oh fuck pen pals everyday