The last hawker at our doors -- the newspaper man

Excerpts from '
Oh, for the postman dear!
By Ritvik Chaturvedi/The Hindu

Kevalam Subbu is an old postman in Chennai. Having worked with the
postal department for over four decades, he must have outlived many of
the trees in the city. He obviously cannot cover as many houses as he
used to, but he just doesn't feel it.
He explains it himself- "People
don't write letters as they used to earlier, they now send mails
through the internet." His bag used to be very heavy, but now he does
not even carry one. "A postman these days does not require a bag," he
says "He can fasten whatever five or ten letters he has to the bicycle

The recent years have seen the gradual disappearance of many
professions, which once acquired importance in every society. One such
person who was ubiquitous but is fast disappearing is the postman. The
younger generation of the 21st century hardly knows the priceless
value of a hand-written letter. The words and even the feel of the
paper became a part of a person's fond memories and would go on to
become an heirloom.

This gradual disappearance of such professions, not only that of the
postman, is not confined to India. It started a long time ago with the
Industrial Revolution. In the late 18th century, English cartoonist
Rowlandson depicted the trades that had started disappearing rapidly
with the growth of industrial capitalism. In one such caricature,
titled 'The Rattrap Seller', he shows a picture of how perplexed the
residents of London are when a rat-trap peddler knocks on their doors
to sell his wares.

The calls of hawkers, exhorting people to have their cooking vessels,
zippers and suitcases repaired are no longer heard anymore. It's the
software engineer who knocks on our door more often. The hawkers, poor
as they are, silently go unnoticed.

The only hawker who visits our doorsteps nowadays is the newspaperman.
Perhaps, many of us won't even know his face or name, as he visits us
in the early hours, throws the newspaper on our verandah and goes away
without meeting us. The world will move on, supermarkets, malls and
stores will mushroom and we will get all our wares there (perhaps,
even newspapers!). So the next time you see a hawker, do remember to
wave at him with a smile, or sit with him for a chat, even if you
don't buy anything.

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