First there were five; then eleven; then eighteen; and finally, twenty-three in total.
I lovingly hand-picked and hand-wrote all twenty-three postcards as the requests trickled in. The first five were ready to go four days after our arrival but I held onto them so I could send them all at once.
The morning before we left Mahabalipuram, I walked to the post office in the heat of the day only to find out that they were out of stamps. “Come back tomorrow,” the man behind the large wooden desk told me. “But I can’t come back tomorrow; I’m leaving for Delhi this evening!” I had a brief flicker of an idea…perhaps I could leave the postcards and some stamp money so the post staff could take care of it for me? But then I remembered I was in India where post staff have been known to steal stamps off of postcards if you leave them before they’ve been postmarked. So the twenty-three postcards boarded the plane with me in Chennai, the Shatabdi Express train in Delhi and the ambassador taxi in Haridwar. They came all the way to Shyampur-Kangri, a small village on the edge of the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, where Sri Ram Ashram is located.
Yesterday I finally braved the Kumbh Mela crowds back in Haridwar with Jai’s dad, Ramsharan. The post office was fairly empty and we managed to buy, tear, lick and stick Rs 276 worth of stamps in record time. We stood at the window and watched the man behind the glass postmark each and everyone one of them. I said a quiet prayer so that they may all reach their final destinations with ease and we made our way outside into the crowd of sadhus and Indian tourists on the street.
Travel well, postcards!