Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An afternoon with India Post

Not long after we moved, Dara selected her very own, 'India dress'. It was a foregone conclusion that we would be sending one to her friend Ella [with all the curly hair] as a 4th birthday gift. The dress and Dara made card have been in my possession for a couple of weeks and it was time to get them to the Post Office... belatedly...  Ella turned four this last week. I also needed to get some postcard/letter stamps.

Mahesh seemed confident that we could get a packing envelope at the Post Office so off we went. The closest office is just slightly out of walking range when you have school buses to meet, but it is not that far from Palm Meadows. We found a sandy verge to park the car and made our way along the street to a happily not too busy post office. There was an incredibly complex sign about which services were offered during which hours, but it seems that posting things is always just fine.

What they don't have is a kiosk or post shop where you can buy supplies. Mahesh showed them my parcel and asked if they had anything. No luck, so we trekked back to the main road and went envelope hunting in various shops. Success on about shop 3. I figured that seeing as I was there I would buy three. This is easier said than done...

quick sidenote: This is a cash society - and while you can find yourself ripping through RS500 notes some days (like today when I had to pay the gardener for the month), you also need a supply of small notes and coins for buying bits and bobs - nobody ever has change. I'm at a loss as to how we actually get these and hold onto enough. ATMs always give you RS500 unless you want them when they mysteriously kick out wads of RS100 instead.

... my three largish brown envelopes came to Rs12. I thought I'd try my luck and see if he could change a 100... nope. I saw Mahesh reaching for his pocket, so I quickly produced two 10s. Not bad, but then he wanted Rs2 - I'd have given it to him if I had it. I made a good faith effort at rummaging in my bag to find some, but no joy. I ended having to part with my only 5.

As we left the shop I noticed that the envelopes weren't gummed. Mahesh confirmed I don't need tape, the Post Office will have something... and they did! Glue. A solitary, ancient looking pot on the communal table. It had a lot in common with a heavily used, but never cleaned, candlestick. So I stuffed my envelope and then took the brush out of the glue pot - except it was not a brush, it was a stick. I guess each morning someone has the job of fetching the glue stick from the yard.

With Mahesh to speed things up we quickly got the attention of the counter guy. He looked at my parcel and announced it wouldn't make it to the US without tape. He was so kind, he gave me a customs form - actually two photocopies of a UK customs form, one to tape on the parcel and one to give him - no idea how they track the numbers on those, and he showed me a properly packaged item, so that I would know.

As we'd got as far with that as we could for today, I asked for my stamps. My counter guy doesn't do stamps, only parcels, so I had to get in line for the lady next to him. I told her I needed 20 stamps for  the UK and US (now, dear readers, before you all get excited that you are one of the 20, let me assure you these are as yet unassigned). We had some back and forth about postcards versus letters. I said I needed both. From what I can tell they are no different: Rs 25 per item. They are, of course, ungummed, and so it is a good job I packed my trusty 21st century glue stick.

1 comment:

  1. Even tougher to send a package than it was in Russia in '92. Jenny and I waited an hour in line to send some books home to be met by a closing shutter as the clerks took their lunch. Right after lunch they wrapped our books and put them on the slow boat to the USA.
    Greg S.