The Allure Of Junk Mail From India

Email spam has me so fixated that when I recently received an odd piece of its tangible ancestor, junk mail, I momentarily forgot what to call it. Land spam? Oh, no, that’s right, we used to call that junk mail.

Dear Mr. C. Dave, Please Send Us Money

This was a strange specimen indeed. What caught my eye was one of those oldschool Air Mail envelope, with what appeared to be a return address in India(“Sri Sri Radha Giridhariji Mandir,” in Gujarat) and a beautiful, postmarked Indian stamp. I was disappointed that the address was printed on an inkjet printer, not banged out on a typewriter.

What was inside was a pamphlet with extremely vague information about cow sponsorship stapled to a printed sheet all in what I assume to be Gujarati. Just like an American direct mail piece, there are notes and underlines printed in red ink made to look like hand-written annotations.

Important Portions Apparently Fake-Underlined

In one sense, this whole rig was quite effective. I opened it, and as I did my imagination ran wild with far-fetched scenarios involving the few people I know in India and what they might be up to these days. The romance of foreign postal mail still makes me a little breathless.

But in another sense, they really need to get their materials in shape. Were they hoping I could read their native tongue? Presumably when they addressed the envelope they knew they’d be sending it to a dumb American. Is there something else behind this? Could it be some sort of second-order scam or is it just a group that wants money? I’m still left scratching my head wondering why this would be worth wasting Air Mail postage to send.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s that someone in India should offer mail sending services for American individuals and companies. If more of my correspondents sent me stuff in Air Mail envelopes from India instead of in those lame “Important Message For” domestic envelopes, for at least a short period of time I’d be reading their messages instead of shredding them on sight. And I’d love a service where I could send a letter to someone down the block via a real post office in India and let them experience the joy of opening a letter from an exotic land, carbon footprint be damned.

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