Philately instructor P.S. Seshadri does not tell his students how to collect stamps, he shows them. By collecting them himself — having amassed 1,50,150 postally-used stamps of the same design, the 61-year-old is all set to enter the Guinness Book of World Records (independent observers including M.S. Ramanujam, Post Master General, Chennai City Circle, Selva Kumar, Director of Postal Services, and G. Balakrishna Das, president, South India Philatelists’ Association sifted through this vast collection, exhibited recently at Maharishi Vidya Mandir).
Apart from this record-making heap, Seshadri has lakhs of other stamps that constitute his general collection. As he engages his students in his projects, they get practical lessons in every facet of philately.
Rejoicing in his moment of glory, Seshadri’s students (from Maharishi Vidya Mandir, where he manages a philately club) explain to visitors his methods, especially those he employed while he piled up 1,50,150 of the 50-cent stamp issued by the Australian Post to commemorate Rotary International’s centenary year, 2005.
Soumya and Varushav explain how these stamps are kept in stock books and small bundles. Harsha Vardhini tells us what Seshadri insists on — “Master asks us to make friends with other collectors. They may have stamps we want badly and vice versa — in such a case, exchange is an automatic choice,” she says. Seshadri religiously follows this method himself. He exchanges stamps with his students as well as seasoned philatelists.
A few stamps in the record collection came from his students. As if to highlight this point, Sai Ganesh walks into the room, and gives his master a 50-cent Australian stamp on Rotary’s 100th year.
“I will not add this stamp to the collection now. Because 1,50,150 is an impressive figure,” says Seshadri. As nobody else has collected even half this number of single-design stamps, Seshadri is expected to enter the Book without any difficulty.
“This achievement is a compounded result of many contributions,” says Seshadri, adding: “It took me five years to arrive at this number.”
When his Belgian friends Marigke and Marc learnt about this attempt, they sent him stock books. Seshadri says philately has enriched his life by a wide circle of friends. “I tell my students that philately brings fun, knowledge and friendship.”
Philately means a lot more than that to Seshadri. Following an accident that resulted in serious cervical damage, he shut down his factory in Ambattur that manufactured tools and gauges. And, turned to teaching philately, his pet subject. For 15 years, he has been an instructor at various schools. At present, he coaches students of Bhakthavatsalam Vridhtashram, Maharishi Vidya Mandir and also at personality-development camps for underprivileged children that IBM professional G. Krishnamurthy conducts at Suddhananda Ashram, Uthandi.
“When I was in Class VIII, my principal gave me my first stamp. The act was life-changing — it opened up a world discovery and fun. I want to do what my principal did for me.”