The Village Post Office

When having letters sent by post, ask to have them covered in clear tape (except for the space for stamps) to make it hard for anyone to pilfer. Packages can also be heavily taped, or else stitched up in cloth. If they are packed with cloth, it’s good to take some glue and drip it along the seams to prevent anyone from unpicking the stitching, removing items and then restitching. If it’s important, the recipient’s phone number should also be there.

SpeedPost is the best way to send anything as it has to be accounted for all along the way, and it can be tracked online. Also, it doesn’t sit around like other mail does.

This is the little post office in my village in Himachal Pradesh—almost the whole thing except for the little bench I was sitting on, maybe 50sf total. It’s typical of village post offices, with a single tiny room, very basic.

Nominally, the postmaster is here for three hours a day, but he often isn’t. Sometimes he goes around to other little villages nearby, most of which are smaller than this one. Mail gets delivered to places along the road (but not my house, which is some distance down a steep path that is really slippery during the monsoon.

There are no extra services here. There’s no computer so he can’t track packages. He doesn’t even know all the rates—and I’m not sure if he actually sells stamps. I sent a letter to the US recently and he collected the amount he thought was due, but the next day he asked me for another two rupees.

Couriers generally don’t deliver to remote villages like this one, so the post office is really important. If you are visiting a small village, it’s best to have mail sent in care of some well-known person who lives or has a place of business near the post office. It also helps to know when mail is coming as home delivery isn’t something that seems to happen much.

This particular post office is quite reliable and I have gotten almost everything that has been sent to me here, with the exception of one parcel that somehow got sent back. If you are having anything sent, ask locally about what’s most reliable.

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