Amanda is spreading love through postcards Image: Facebook/ Amanda Sodhi
My relatives were in India, so back in Washington DC, I grew up sending and receiving lots of letters and cards. Even during school, a lot of students would exchange cards and handwritten letters regularly. Even when I moved from DC to Los Angeles, friends made it a point to give me handwritten letters, as that was the norm if one was moving out of the city/country. I have held on to all of those letters, cards and postcards over the years. After moving to India, all such handwritten communication stopped. No one here seems to write letters. And there is hardly anyone who sells postcards either.
Of postcards and love
About a year-and-a-half ago, before moving from Mumbai to Kolkata, I posted on my Facebook wall that I miss receiving letters. A few friends were sweet enough to send me postcards after reading the post. Moreover, I also put up a post later on asking if anyone would want to receive a handwritten note. I got some really unexpected positive response. Without a second thought, I went ahead and mailed out probably 40 letters on the day I was leaving Mumbai.
After a few months in the City of Joy, I actually sent a letter to someone I liked in Mumbai telling him how I felt about him. Although he didn't feel the same way, it felt great to get an answer. So, in a way, it helped me move on. And it was then that I felt writing letters, in general, could be a therapeutic activity for many people. That's how Pen Paper Dreams, an initiative to bring postcards back in trend happened.
Pen Paper Dreams
Initially, Pen Paper Dreams started off as a personal poem-a-day page. When I felt inspired to start these postcard-writing workshops, I thought it would be a great idea to make this an offshoot of Pen Paper Dreams itself.
So, I began getting in touch with suitable venues, and all of them found the idea of reviving old-school handwritten communication pretty innovative since no one really sends out letters anymore.
I feel that handwritten notes are so rare that it is almost a novelty now. It becomes a keepsake. Moreover, we barely put our phones aside for a moment. Writing a note, even if it is a tiny one, forces us to switch off from the virtual world for a few minutes to reflect on our innermost thoughts and pen them down without any fluff. It allows us to be vulnerable. A postcard is small enough for someone to feel inspired enough to take a shot at filling it out. So, I started off with postcard-writing workshops.
What I found really interesting is that at first, lots of people have no idea how to fill out a postcard — where the address goes, where the stamp goes, etc. Secondly, many people find it very healing. People have written postcards to parents who are dead, or family members they have a strained relationship with or people they are not in touch with due to various issues. People have cried in pretty much all of the postcard-writing sessions. I guess it's cathartic to be vulnerable on paper.
Paving the postcard way
I have decided whenever I travel or go on vacations, I will look for venues in that city where I can conduct postcard-writing workshops. It is my dream to launch a nationwide postcard-writing tour and document the stories that emerge through a video. If I don't find any sponsors, I'm going to fund this myself and travel by train or bus in 2019. But I will definitely make this happen. After all, every letter tells a story, all of which deserve to be heard.