Indian Telegraph Service

The closure of India’s 163-year-old telegraph service on the mid night of June 15 may be hot nostalgia of the year 2013. These telegrams were once been common man’s communication need before the internet era may be till the early 21st century. The first telegraph message was transmitted live on Morse through electrical signals between Calcutta and Diamond Harbor on 5th Nov 1850. The Telegraph services were opened to public during February 1855.

Telegrams neither carried the happiest news or the most saddening news. My first experience with telegrams was while I was in my standard 4 my dad received a telegram from my grandfather to my father that carried the sad message “Mother expired. Start immediately” which gave me a wage idea that telegrams are always dangerous ones for a while till I experience the next telegram after an year that carried the happiest message to my uncle “Baby girl delivered. Mother and child are Sound health”

By this time I have grew up and matured enough to understand that the telegram is just a media of communication to convey messages of any kind. The importance of telegrams came back to my life again after I finished my schooling and joined college for graduation. After my admissions are over, the college management said that they will inform me when the classes start. When I was waiting curiously to hear from them got the good news “Classes starts on date. Please come prepared” .

After I joined the college, the communication media was in its budding stage where there telephone numbers had only 6 digits. I don’t have a telephone at home also. The only mode was writing letters once a week. I still remember how we all approach the postman when he enters our hostel.

Later found a post office which is very near to our college. Will go there during the break session and simply send a telegram home with the message “Call tonight at 9”. My dad will call from a PCO from my home town. I will go there near the telephone and will wait for his call. The telegram was charged only rs. 3.50 during those days. Less than the cost of coffee 🙂

As I started frequent to the post office for telegrams, The office in charge become friendly and explained about the various services of telegrams like the way to greet people with telegrams. For the following Diwali festival I sent about 15+ telegrams to all my friends and relatives with my wishes that were really a great feel during those days when I was far off from my parents and friends.

The last telegram I received was in my second semester started feeling homesick and reached home without the permission of the hostel authorities during the Ayodha riots were happening, received a telegram from the hostel management with the message “ Your ward is missing in our premises since ____ . Please confirm his arrival and hand over him safe back to us in person” Later I was allowed back to the hostel after a apology letter given by my father which were really lifetime experiences.

After my first year, My dad took a telephone connection at home so that he can call me without searching for PCO at nights. My devil mind started thinking faster instead of sending a telegram at 11am and waiting for 9pm felt better to ring home anytime and say “ This is me and call back” within the first 15 sec that costs me Rs.3.50 same as a telegram cost. But the response was immediate.

May be that’s where the communication sector started emerging that lead to the demise of telegram which has definitely made unforgettable memories in everyone’s life like mine! Read from the dailies that thousands of people thronged the telegraph offices remaining in the country to send their last telegrams to friends or family as a keepsake. Just 15 minutes to midnight on June 15, the last message was booked at the counter of Central Telegraph Office Janpath, sent by Ashwani Mishra to Rahul Gandhi that put an end to the telegraph service in India that fast became a relic in an age of email, reliable landlines and ubiquitous mobile phones.

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