As the sun set on India’s 163-year-old telegram service on Sunday, it was lights on till late evening for its Old Gurgaon office — the first time in more than 20 years.
As many as 132 individuals had turned up to send their last telegrams, keeping the two employees busy well beyond 6pm. On an average day, the Sadar post office received not more than five telegram requests.
As scores thronged the only telegram office in the Millennium City to be a part of the passing legacy, the staff members worked late and entertained requests of many who missed the deadline of 6pm — the time to shut the office. They said they had never received so many telegrams since the Gurgaon office was inaugurated more than two decades ago.
“The office was kept open on a weekend to process requests. While we usually receive 35 telegrams a day, of which only five are sent by individuals and the rest are medical representations (MRs), we accepted more than 130 telegrams today (Sunday),” said Subhash Chandra Sharma, head, telegram main office, Gurgaon.
Sharma said many families flocked to the office to send one another souvenirs - the last telegram.
“Sending you this historic telegram with lots of love. We are the last generation sending this ‘TAAR’. We miss you a lot,” read one of the last few telegrams written by a resident of Sector 52.
Interestingly, many who visited the telegram office on Sunday were first-timers.
“I grew up in the age of emails so I haven’t sent anything by post. I came here to send my first and last telegram because I want my grandchildren to know I was part of this legacy,” said 19-year-old Anita Arora, a resident of Sector 14.
For many, a taar was once synonymous with bad news. “It was usually sent to inform about someone’s demise. But today, I came here to send this last telegram to savour the legacy of the pre-digital era,” said 42-year-old Sunny, a mobile application developer and resident of Vatika in New Gurgaon.
“The telegram meant something dreadful was in the offing when we were growing up. Today, my kids and I sent it to our parents and in-laws to be a part of this legacy,” said Dr Anu Agarwal, a pediatrician and resident of Sector 56.