In Gandhinagar area of Vijayawada, he is a familiar face as he can be seen daily in the neighbourhood. Yes, R. Ramachandra Rao belongs to that rapidly disappearing breed of postmen.
Winner of the Dak Seva Award from Andhra Pradesh this year, Mr. Rao is ecstatic.
The icing on the cake is the special postcard on which the department had his photograph printed.
He wears a uniform and paints the town red, riding his red bicycle equipped with a red bag and a red colour box affixed to the rear. The bag he carries has letters, postcards, bills, receipts and notices regarding parcels.
The post office opens at 7.30 a.m., but Mr. Rao is at its door at least an hour in advance, helping the staff sort out letters.
“This has been a routine since 1980 when I joined the department as a GDS (Grameena Dak Seva) packer. In 1993, I wrote and passed the postman’s test,” says this modest postman.
Mr. Rao was given a one gram gold coin and a cash incentive of Rs.1,400 by the Chief Post Master, General Karuna Pillai, at a function held in Hyderabad.
“Remember in the past, photos of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were seen on postcards. It is heartening to see my own photograph now,” he gushes, informing that the initial bunch of the cards is being distributed while order for more has been placed.
Earlier, in 1994, he was given the best postman award in Vijayawada. “In 2000, the Rotary Club felicitated me and presented me a bicycle,” he announces with a sense of pride. At 58, Mr. Rao is as fit as a fiddle and is keen on continuing his job.
“I wrote a letter to the President of India seeking a two-year extension since I am hale and hearty, but the department denied it,” he says.