Life on the massive publish workplace


A teenage boy, his youthful sister, and their mom stood round within the large, high-domed Basic Publish Workplace (GPO) on Raj Bhavan Street in Bengaluru. A postal worker had disapproved of the way in which they’d packed a parcel and needed it redone. The household seemed frazzled and aggravated.

Watching them from a distance, I might empathise. I’ve been to the publish workplace simply thrice in my life. I’ve despatched just one snail mail — a letter to myself, posted from my college to my home handle as a part of classroom exercise. I’m 23, and I used to be born after the appearance of the Web. The glory days of the Indian Posts and Telegraph Division have been over by the point I might learn and write.

I used to be now visiting a publish workplace, the most important in Karnataka and the second largest in south India, with many questions. What occurs immediately on the publish workplaces? Are solely senior residents and authorities workplaces utilizing postal companies? Do individuals nonetheless have pen buddies? How do postal supply workers cope with Bengaluru’s infamous site visitors? Do children even come right here, and in the event that they do, how do they navigate by this old-world maze, this one sprawling throughout 55,000 sq ft? 

A DH reporter and photographer, each younger, determined to go to the most important publish workplace in Bengaluru to get some solutions concerning the Indian Postal system. It turned out to be a day of studying concerning the oldest establishment of communication. Credit score: DH Picture

Good however not ol’

I met Srilekha, one of many supervisors on the Nationwide Sorting Hub, a division that receives parcels and kinds them for supply throughout the nation. She woke me up from my ignorant stupor: “Whoever thinks publish workplaces are dying ought to suppose once more. We deal with one lakh Velocity Publish paperwork and bulk parcels (50 kg and above) on daily basis.”

She continued: Velocity Publish transactions at this publish workplace shoot as much as 1.5 lakh a day throughout festivals like Raksha Bandhan and Deepavali, and the each day quantity has risen by 25% previously 5 years. The Indian postal system reaches the remotest components of northeast India, which non-public couriers can’t service, she stated proudly. And India Publish is cheaper than non-public couriers. A 50-250 gm package deal prices Rs 42 right here as in opposition to Rs 100-Rs 250 with non-public corporations, she identified.

Amid the sound of letters being stamped frenetically, Assistant Chief Publish Grasp (ACPM) Amruthalingam informed me concerning the Mail Supply division, which companies pincode 560 001, the central a part of Bengaluru, that’s. “We ship 8,000 articles, round 5,000 Velocity Posts, 3,000 registered posts and a thousand parcels on daily basis,” he stated. Bengaluru has 90-plus pin codes. They obtain essentially the most variety of registered posts through the KPSC (Karnataka Public Service Fee) examination season, I learnt.  

Chief Postmaster Ok Radhakrishna introduced me up to the mark on the strides in expertise. “We now use stamp embossing expertise (franking) and there’s no want to purchase stamps individually,” he stated. To scale back the necessity for doorstep supply, the division is conducting a pilot undertaking on good postal reserving and supply, for which, they may arrange kiosks at malls and railway stations. The e-commerce portal of India Publish will quickly provide companies on the traces of Amazon and Flipkart, he added.

With 560 workers, the GPO in Bengaluru nonetheless feels understaffed. “One individual does the work of three typically. Even a workers power of 1,500 won’t be sufficient for the workload we’ve,” Radhakrishna stated.

 Chief Postmaster Radha Krishna is the person answerable for the 560 individuals who work on the GPO in Bengaluru. Credit score: DH Picture

In a single day vans 

Effectively-oiled equipment works around the clock.  I acquired to see a few of the operations.

At 7.55 am, a crimson postal truck from Mangaluru arrived on the yard of the five-storeyed GPO constructing, simply outdoors the Nationwide Sorting Hub. Greater than 50 plastic luggage with tags like ‘Maharashtra Circle’, ‘Kerala Circle’, ‘Hyderabad Circle’ and ‘Coastal Circle’ have been offloaded within the open. A few males from the division began taking the baggage inside, shouting ‘opening’ or ‘ahead’ to a lady sitting behind a pc on the door.

‘Opening’ luggage include articles for distribution throughout the metropolis whereas the ‘ahead’ luggage carry articles in transit, meant for different cities and states. This course of is likely one of the many to comply with, and is named receiving.

The following step is opening. Sitting in a line, a gaggle of individuals open the baggage, take out the gadgets and scan the barcodes on them. The gadgets then go to the sorting crew, which segregates them on the premise of their vacation spot. Many hand-written addresses on these packages have been neat and legible, and never a scrawl. I had imagined the artwork of writing by hand was misplaced.

After yet one more spherical of scanning, the closing crew packs them again into luggage, sticking labels indicating the place they have to attain. These luggage are forwarded to the dispatch crew for the ultimate step of their indoor operations, twice a day, at 6 am
and 12 pm.

An hour later, Amruthalingam joined me on the Mail Supply division. It’s a giant corridor. We had simply began speaking when a postman requested everybody to assemble at a nook for a small celebration. They have been ringing in a colleague’s sixtieth birthday, just a few days earlier than he was to retire, and a long-time worker’s final day at work. After the routine ‘Joyful birthday to you’ and a speech by the retiring worker, slices of cake have been distributed. Since I used to be the “visitor of the home”, they gave me a beneficiant portion. 

After a break, I seen an worker stamping an enormous pile of parcels ready to be dispatched. The bell-shaped stamp he was utilizing caught my eyes. It had metallic typefaces on the face, which, I used to be informed, are manually modified and set on daily basis to match the date (see pic under). The primary stamp of the day is logged into an workplace pocket book. The stamp was 150 years outdated, so was the ink pad stored on the desk.

On this room, paperwork and parcels are sorted into postboxes (by pin code), and beat containers (meant for giant workplaces such because the Vidhana Soudha). There are 90 beats within the 560 001 postal code alone, up from 64 earlier.

Out they go

The postal supply workers are the face of the system, going across the metropolis on cycles and scooters from 8 am to 4 pm and chatting with individuals to whom they ship letters and parcels. Some learn out letters to unlettered recipients. Generally, in addition they carry out the position of scribes, and write letters on request. 

The GPO employs 96 postal supply workers. Of them, 10% are feminine. I wasn’t shocked to see postwomen. My aunt Tara B Ok had labored as a postwoman in Bengaluru for about 30 years. She would speak about individuals feeling thrilled each time they acquired one thing by publish. In recent times, solely the arrival of a passport had elicited such cheer. As for my aunt, she took satisfaction in how she knew the very best medical doctors, engineers and shopkeepers on her beat!

One hazard postmen and postwomen face is aggressive road canines. As for the postwomen, lack of excellent public bathrooms is a problem. They are saying a creche on the workplace would make their work simpler.

Varalakshmi, an award-winning postwoman who has labored for 32 years, stated, “Again within the day, having the ability to afford sanitary pads was a luxurious and discovering good bathrooms throughout one’s interval was a problem. On such days, I took depart as it could get too tiresome to journey and stroll round.”

Over the counters

The nice outdated counters the place the postal, in addition to monetary transactions, occur on the GPO which see a footfall of near 100 each day. Credit score: DH Picture

After lunch, I made a decision to hover across the varied counters to watch who got here there. The GPO has a devoted counter for armed forces personnel. And one for the differently-abled. Some site visitors policemen had are available to see if they may open publish workplace financial savings accounts. An enormous bunch of younger clients have been visiting to replace their Aadhaar playing cards and ship college-related paperwork by way of registered publish.

Center-aged and older individuals have been on the market in massive numbers, at counters for financial savings certificates, postal life insurance coverage, and pace and registered publish. “Previous individuals don’t belief expertise like OTP authentication. They get pissed off if the servers are down. They prefer to get their passbooks bodily up to date,” a postal worker informed me.

I noticed a person over 70, and it turned out he was ready for his insurance coverage agent. A retired ceramic engineer and an ardent letter-writer again within the day, he talks fondly about how the postal system impressed the author in him. “I used to put in writing to my household in Hassan ceaselessly, describing the form of place Bangalore was,” he recalled.

He hasn’t written a letter in a decade however nonetheless refers to letter-writing as an artwork. “Individuals would write letters usually in order that they may hone totally different types of writing, like poetry and prose,” he stated.

He’s happy with how his technology might bear in mind names and numbers. “We used to memorise each little bit of the handle. Your technology relies on expertise. Someday, if all of those techniques fail, what are you going to do?” he stated.

I took that with a smile. As a result of I realised, , publish workplaces immediately stand on the cusp of old-world communication and new-age expertise.

Postal historical past in India

1296: Horse and foot postal system through the rule of Allauddin Khilji.

1672: ‘Mysore Anche’ was established by Maharaja Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar. Anche means publish in Kannada.

1727: The East India Firm opened its first publish workplace.

1854: The Indian Publish and Telegraph division (Publish Workplace Act XVII) was launched. 

1986: Velocity Publish launched. 

Sending a postcard would price 1 or 2 annas in 1921, 5 paise in 1975, 15 paise in 2000 and prices 25-50 paise now. 

Monetary companies at the publish workplace

Postal financial savings account

Postal Life Insurance coverage (now open to graduates too)

Sukanya Samruddhi (Financial savings scheme for lady kids)

Doorstep banking utilizing Aadhaar Enabled Cost System and biometric

Invoice cost (For electrical energy, water, phone)

Making use of for a PAN card

Cellular and DTH recharge

Reserving flight, bus and prepare tickets

Whereas some may say that mails and stamps are a factor of the previous, these children for positive have a ardour for philately (assortment and examine of postage stamps). Credit score: DH Picture

What’s in, what’s out

My grandfather as soon as wrote an inland letter to his kids 14 days in a row, chronicling his journeys round south India. Do individuals nonetheless use these blue letter-writing sheets?

Sure, stated the chief postmaster. Small companies would relatively spend Rs 2.50 on an inland letter than get their matter printed on a postcard for Rs 6, he says.

Postcards are nonetheless in demand, due to ardent collectors like him. Because of, a novel web site, strangers are in a position to alternate their postcards from world wide.

Philately, the examine and assortment of postal stamps, can also be going sturdy as many children have picked it up as a interest, an worker on the Philatelic Bureau informed me. By the way, a younger graduate was ready to use for a membership, which will get individuals easy accessibility to limited-edition stamps and envelopes as and when they’re launched. The membership comes for Rs 200 a 12 months.

On provide listed below are stamps of 15 and 25 paise, a Mahatma Gandhi stamp set for Rs 150, stamps perfumed with sandalwood, rose and jasmine, stamps paying tribute to Covid warriors and Indian troopers from World Struggle I, envelopes commemorating the pink ball Take a look at matches and the singer Late Mangeshkar, they’d all of it. Often, dwelling individuals aren’t featured on stamps and envelopes, however cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and M S Dhoni are exceptions, an worker informed me, pointing to commemorative envelopes launched in 2021.

Paperwork, candy containers and items are most ceaselessly despatched by publish immediately. Misplaced and located keys are additionally despatched, however they’re uncommon.

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