Most of my schoolmates would have hard bound notebooks filled with stamps, occasionally from never-before-heard countries. The most beautiful stamps would be from poor or insignificant territories such as
In our simple lives, we would not compete on how rare our stamps were or how many commemorative or first day issues we had. Our unhealthy competition would only be about the absolute number of stamps we had or the number of countries in our collection. Of course, Indian stamps would be ignored from these calculations. We would scorn against those who bought collections from bookshops as that went against the spirit of our competition. But soon we realized that it would be extremely difficult to build our collection the organic way, since few people in our small town had contacts abroad. So like everything, this also became a question of how much money our parents had that they could spend on such hobbies. Eventually, most stamp books were lost and forgotten at some corner of the house.
These days, we receive a lot more letters, courtesy all the bills, marketing flyers and account statement; however, they invariably come in envelopes marked by postage seals rather than the perforated stamps. In
And even now, scanning through an old stamp-book provides some sort of a connection, not just with my youth, but also with those countries that seemed so remote during childhood days and don’t exist anymore: Czechoslovakia, East Germany, or the USSR.