[Reader-list] Letter to Lanka shri

Yousuf ysaeed7 at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 2 23:36:54 IST 2004

Few months ago somebody posted a message in one of the
Sarai lists about a letter that was sent from India to
UK, addressed entirely in Hindi. It managed to reach
its destination in London without any hitch – of
course the British postal department had to take help
from someone who knew Hindi to transcribe the address
in English, as was evident from the envelope. While
this incident made one feel proud of the recognition
of our rashtra bhasha in vilayat, I would like to
describe here (in continuation or in contrast to this
pride) what I witnessed yesterday afternoon in a post
office in Delhi:

In the main post office of Connaught Place (New Delhi)
a person ahead of me in the queue handed an envelope
to the officer at the counter for speed post. The
officer asked him, in the usual rude manner, “kaun si
country ka hai?” (which country to send to?). Before
the person could answer, I noticed on the envelope a
zip code unique only to UK addresses (MQ3 78L, or
something like that). Above that it said ‘Lancashire’
but no UK. To my horror, the person bringing the
envelope said, “Shree Lanka ka hai.” (its meant for
Sri Lanka). The post officer got ruder than before,
“Abay to Shree lanka kahan likha hai?” (where does it
say Sri Lanka), throwing the envelope back at him.

The bearer of the letter, probably an office peon,
pointed to the ‘Lancashire’ and said, “yeh galti se
ulta likh diya hai…Shree Lanka hi hai” (they have
mistakenly written it in reverse, it should be Shree
Lanca and not Lanca Shire). This is where I
intervened. I told them it is certainly not Shree
Lanka – this is Lancashire which is in UK. But the
bearer of the letter didn’t pay any attention to me.
The post officer also didn’t seem to care, even though
he probably knew I was right. To my further horror, he
asked the bearer to delete the confusing name and
change it to Shri Lanca in his handwriting, which the
fellow happily did – obviously amused that his boss
(who sent him) was so dumb to have spelt Shri Lanka in
reverse. Despite my protest, the officer entered Sri
Lanka in his computer and gave a receipt to the
fellow, printed with Sri Lanka! During the
conversation, however, the officer had told the peon
“be sure of what you are doing – its 4:30 pm and this
letter will be gone in half an hour, so don’t come
back to me afterwards”, which proved that he knew what
he was doing, and yet he made the guy do what he did.
I was too horrified to protest any further and came
back. Though I did try to imagine how the boss would
react when he sees a receipt with Sri Lanka on it.

Yousuf Saeed

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