As telegrams get ready to take steps backwards, we talk to a few youngsters about their telegram memories

We all have our favourite souvenirs carefully placed in the cupboard reminding us of our memorable visit or the person who gifted it to us. Two friends on Facebook hit upon a unique idea to gift a souvenir to each other. And what did they gift? A telegram!

They sent a telegram to each other to keep it as a souvenir reminding them of not just their friendship but of the telegram service which is all set to bid us goodbye. Come July 15, telegrams will become a closed chapter.

With Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited resolving to put an end to the telegraphic service due to financial constraints, the oldest messaging service will soon walk into history.

Pramodini, who works in a private company, remembers the telegram sent by her uncle. “When my cousin was getting married, my uncle sent a congratulatory message through a telegram. What’s special about that telegram was that we were all (including my uncle) living in the same compound. It was my uncle’s way of introducing us to telegrams,” she says. If for the older generation, telegram was the fastest and only way of sending emergency messages, for the younger generation, the ‘outdated telegram is all old and forgotten.’ “Who has the time to go to a telegraphic office, fill the telegram form and send a telegram. We need to just pick up the phone and call or send an SMS or for longer messages, send an email. It is cheaper and faster,” smiles Pavan Kumar, a commerce student. Sushmita Gopalan, who is pursuing her masters, has never sent a telegram in her life. She has only heard of her grandfather sending a telegram to her father about his exam results. “He had sent, ‘Cleared everything including Tamil,’’ she says with a smile. “It (telegram) has become pretty obsolete, it is better to shut down,” she says.

Ambika Bhalerao, who works for a production house remembers her father’s telegram - ‘I am fine’ which he had sent during a holiday. “Technology has grown by leaps and bounds and there are faster ways of communication. We need to progress,” she says. Agrees her friend Abid Ahmed Asad, who works as a producer in a travel channel: “This is the generation of mobile apps and skype. We need to adapt to the change and move on,” he says and adds, “We can still keep telegrams functional in some form or the other. We cannot be indifferent and cut ourselves off from our roots. We need to know what an email is but we cannot ignore the way we evolved to an email.” Ask him about his telegram memory and he says, “I have spent all my life in boarding school and the only telegram I ever received was about the news of my grandfather’s death.”

Before the humble messenger who walks in with a telegram in his hand completely fades away, send a telegram and be aware of the way your grandfathers’ generation sent messages and communicated with friends and family.

Telegram code

Telegrams are differentiated according to their priority

OS - Ordinary service

XS - Express service

XX - Death message

XW - Weather message

GM - Greeting message

OCD - Condolence message service

XGM - Express greeting message

Some memories

Jamuna: I used to receive lots of telegrams for my birthday. I remember one ‘congrats’ telegram sent by late Rajiv Gandhi.

I have preserved all my telegrams, letters and stamps. They are such happy memories. There were many telegrams sent to us by the fans when my children got married. Earlier, if a family received a telegram, all the members would be scared, assuming that it brought news about somebody’s death. This generation doesn’t even know what a telegram is. They only know mobile phones.

Tanikella Bharani: Say telegram and the one thing which comes to everybody’s mind is: ‘Start immediately’ the message often used by people (laughs). The message in a telegram is conveyed in bits and pieces. I remember the telegram which my brother Suribabu had received. He was taking bath and hurriedly came dressed when he heard the word ‘telegram’. The message said that he was selected for a bank job. He couldn’t contain his happiness and started dancing.

Let the telegram go, but the brevity in language remain.