Monday, December 15, 2008

Easy way out.

The second instance of my quitting a pursuit after a brief flirtation - the account of the first one is here - was when I was an enthusiastic philatelist for maybe a couple of years of school. How I started collecting postage stamps escapes me. My best guess is that I must have seen someone's stamp album and jumped to the conclusion that it was the thing to do. My parents used to indulge me probably because I was a boy. I remember I had a hard bound dark green 12" x 9" stamp album about ¾" thick. Each page in it had the name of a country printed on top with a couple of pictures of the more popular stamps issued by it on both sides of it. The portion below was divided into several spaces for stamps indicated by dotted squares. I remember buying the album, along with a shiny pair of tweezers, from one of the philately supply dealers on Hornby Road (now Dadabhai Nowroji Road) The shop is probably still there. I also used to buy from the same shop a packet of pre-gummed hinges made of butter paper. One had to simply fold the hinge halfway with the pre-gummed surface outside; lick it; stick one half to the back of the stamp and the other half to the surface of the page where the stamp was supposed to be stuck; and, lo and behold, one of your precious collection was where it belonged. I remember having a lot many India Postage stamps, even old ones retrived from the envelopes of old correspondence. We veteran stamp collectors also used to obtain stamps by barter. I don't quite recall who I used to exchange stamps with. There was a philatelist friend of mine staying in the third of the three identical Arab Houses. (I stayed at 233 Khetwadi Main Road in the first Arab House, you see.) He was probably the one through whom I had managed to find some bartering contacts. Also, some of my school friends may also have chipped in with bartering aid. We used to also buy stamps from the shop on Hornby Road I mentioned earlier as well as a shop on Lamington Road which also doubled as a comic book lending library. What one had to watch out for was in the stamps you bought to add to your collection was postal cancellation marks on them. That was supposed to prove that they were authentic postal issues - not imitations printed to fool new entrants in the august portals of philately. After wasting a bit of my father's hard-earned money for two or three years, I suddently lost interest in and zest for "the whole bally thing" (to use one of Wooster's eloquent phrases) and quit it as was my wont. [Afterthought: Now that email is the rule rather than the exception, I wonder if stamp collecting is a dying hobby.]