Friends afar…..

Friends afar:

Pandemic travel restrictions have helped revive the charm of distant dosti

With international flights yet to resume, Bunny has acquired two long-distance pen friends, one in Toronto, Canada, and the other in Milan, Italy.

The pen friend in Toronto is David, with whom Bunny worked in an advertising agency in a Calcutta of long ago. David moved to Canada and Bunny lost touch with him. Then a chance encounter on social media put them in touch with each other again, and soon they were exchanging long and regular emails about old times and new.

The second pen friend is Paolo, who lives in Milan, where he also has an apartment which he rents. Bunny and I had plans to stay in that apartment this summer till the coronavirus put paid to that, as it has done to so much else.

But though we’ve never met him, Paolo and Bunny have become friends from afar thanks to the internet. When in an email she sent him regretfully cancelling our booking for his apartment, Bunny mentioned she was teaching herself Italian prior to our aborted trip to Italy, Paolo, a retired professor, offered to teach her the language.

For the past several weeks, Paolo and Bunny have exchanged lengthy mails, in Italian, every Sunday. Paolo corrects Bunny’s Italian, and then sends us the latest news about himself, to which Bunny responds by recounting our doings to him.

Bunny’s by far from being the only one to discover, or rediscover, the charm of having what used to be called pen pals.

In the days, not so long ago, before jet travel shrank the globe and made the far near, pen friendship was a common pursuit, particularly for people in countries like India for whom foreign lands seemed as inaccessible as the surface of the moon.

People sought friends afar, and the more afar the better. It was a fun way to learn how people in a place far different from ours – and in those pre-globalisation days places were different – lived.

There was no email, and when the postman brought you letters from your pen friends, the exotic stamps evoked the aura of remote horizons.

As technology made travel faster and cheaper, pen friendship lost much of its early allure. But, thanks to the pandemic clampdown, distant dosti is flourishing again. In fact, you could call it a pendemic.


DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Excerpts from a Blog in the Editorial Times of India newspaper

Published by Shobha Iyer

Always be Happy; always wear a Smile, Not because Life is full of reasons to Smile, but because your Smile itself maybe a reason for many others to Smile ;The Greatest Thing In Life Is Love And The Second Is Laughter..

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