This week's story is on stamps! I was to report on the fake postage stamps sold here and the way Philatelists chooses genuine ones from the counterfeit mass.
This was interesting, because I collect stamps. During reporting, I came to know of the various sources of stamps in town, and also met Mr Mathew, a veteran philatelist.
I still remember our class teacher in the third standard asking us to start collecting stamps after she took the Moral Science lesson on hobbies. I did not care much at first. By the end of the year, I also began to keep stamps that were attractive. By next June, I was hooked!
My first stamp album was a notebook. A crude way to store, I used to stick my stamps in the ruled pages.I exchanged whatever I could collect with my friends in the class.
Then on the Onam vacation that year came an envelope full of stamps from my Dad who was in Dubai at that time. That was my first jackpot, shall I say.
Then I was like a star among the collectors in my class. But one day, my stamp book was stolen. You cannot imagine the dismay I felt. That was one of the rare occasions in school when I cried without the teacher's beating.
Then, during the summer vacation that year, Dad came home. He gave me his collection that he left in one of his suitcases, what we called "Bombay Boxes."
Then I had a real stamp album. He gave me a brand new one also. It was made in China. From then on, his letters were accompanied by stamps.
My collection grew. I began understanding the various ways of collection. It takes a lot of patience to collect a stamp, separate it from the envelope, dry it and arrange according to the album space and classification.
There are stamps which when arranged in a particular order gives you a picture. Once I got two stamps of Pilippines, which formed part of a map. I sent it back to Dad and asked for him to lookout for the joining pieces. Then, after two years, he sent me the other two, completeing the picture of the map.
There were times when I totally avoided my collection, adding less than five stamps a year. But I didn't give up completely. My collection was in a dormant state then.
Now I have more than 1200 stamps in five albums. Most are used, some are mint (unsealed). But I am still not a philatelist, but a stamp collector. Philatelists are those who collect, classify and study stamps. I just collect and keep.
Most philatelists specialise in certain areas, such as wildlife stamps, space stamps or stamps of certain nations. I plan to specialise in what I call Joint-picture stamps!