One of the last "tasks" of the year in our house is to send out holiday cards. As many things are here, I thought it would be too much of an effort so I planned on doing a mass email. I even had a draft set, until I saw the awesome UNICEF holiday cards at Archie's...sold!
We got them all ready to go and put them in envelopes (which didn't have any adhesive to seal them) and this morning I set off with our driver to check out the post office...my first time since moving here. I left the envelopes opened so that the post office could verify that it was just paper inside and brought tape with me so we could seal them on the spot. I don't know if this is necessary, but I take EVERY possible precaution when doing anything here to save time and headaches. In the end, it turned out to be (I think) a good idea.
We went to a small one which was fairly new and it had the basic feel of any post office in the US. Sort of bare bones inside, with 4 "multipurpose" windows, a row of steel chairs against the wall, and an empty writing station with a tub of blue goo on it. When it was our turn, the attendant told me it would be one price to mail the cards if we left them open, and another if we sealed them -- uh thanks but no thanks, I'd rather see the cards go on their way sealed. After weighing and counting, I bought stamps and she told us to go to the writing station along the wall to seal them and put on the stamps.
The tub of blue goo turned out to be adhesive for the envelopes. Our driver grabbed half the pile and started gluing them shut far faster than I could do my half with the Scotch Tape. I guess envelopes here don't typically have those lick-and-press glue edges?
The stamps were pretty old school. I'd gotten used to the laser cut, self-stick ones in the US so much that I almost didn't know what to do when we were handed the flimsy, perforated paper sheets. For ten minutes we both meticulously folded and tore the exact number of stamps for each envelope, trying not to tear them too much!
Once they were done, we just handed them to the attendant and they were on their way. She said they'd reach their destinations in about 15 business days -- right around Jan 1st. Not too bad!
The post office experience this time around was pretty painless, I'd say, but our driver told me that if it was a parcel that needed sending we'd have to go to "the BIG post office" which could take quite a while and was a more complicated process. As always, I was thankful to have him with me to translate as he does when we're in places where the folks speak only Hindi or Marathi.