In Praise of Bharatiya Dak (India Post)

by Sharell शारेल on September 24, 2010

in Daily Life in India

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Yesterday’s unimpressive experience with DHL couriers reminded me why I like good ole Bharatiya Dak (India Post) so much. In fact, we are on such close terms that I even have my very own, authentic Bharatiya Dak sack.

I’ve had A LOT of transactions with India Post. Hundreds of them. Since I have a small Ebay store, which sells groovy Indian clothes and art, I’ve sent parcels all around the world. Not one has gone missing. I’ve also had my share of incoming mail from the US (books and jeans from Amazon and Ebay) and home (herbal medicines and other bits and pieces, including the ill fated Goji Berries), all sent via the regular mail service. India Post always delivers… and without any additional fees, charges, or duties. What’s more, they even deliver badly damaged packages that really should be disposed of. Which is how I came to be in proud possession of my India Post sack.

One day, the postman arrived on my doorstep with an Intimation Card from the post office. Package in a breakable state, it had written on it. “Madam, post office leke jao”, he told me gravely. (Take it and go to the post office). A bottle of liquid had smashed inside one of the parcels that my mum had sent me. The package was sodden. Even worse, the smell had infiltrated the whole post office. Nevertheless, a postal worker bundled it up into the hessian sack and handed it to us.

Of course, my relationship with India Post hasn’t always been a happy one. I’ve been driven to the brink of insanity by the service (or lack of) at some regional post offices, where the staff make up their own rules about when they’ll serve customers, and what can be sent and how. And then there is the antiquated requirement (fortunately not in force at my local post office in Mumbai) that needs parcels to be stitched in white cloth and sealed with wax before sending.

But, there’s no doubting, India Post is reliable. I’m an admirer!

11 people like this post.
© Copyright 2010 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly September 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm

yes, totally agree with you! had an experience trying to send a bottle of Irish whiskey as a thank you pressent! DHL, FEDEX etc it all cost over 120 euros to send (Thats more than four times the cost of the whiskey) and then there would be charges on the Indian side (Not ideal for a pressent!!) I sent it by regular Irish and Indian post, no fancy couiers, no charges in India, it arrived safely and in less than a week. Very surprised and impressed by that!

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Ramit September 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm

What store? E Bay? You? Whoa!

No one told us!

Which one is it? Let me see if I like anything!

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Sharell September 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Haha, Ramit, I’m sorry I can’t tell you. There are picture of me modelling the clothes on there! ;-)

Molly, I’m glad to hear you had a great experience too. 8)

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Ramit September 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Oh. Haha! Well, good luck! I’m sure some of them are Indian products, so more power to you!

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seeya September 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Not to generalize or anything, but the Indian post has been dragged through the dust when it comes to sending packages within India. I mean if they are not competitive within, what’s the use of calling them Indian post? Letters have given way to phones, packages have been lapped up by the couriers – who give very competitive service within India. Private enterprise any day over government lethargy.

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Prashanth September 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm

“the postman arrived on my doorstep with an *Intimation Card*”

@Sharell: You are definitely turning Indian! :) How long have you been in India? *just wondering if you passed through all the phases of immigration*

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Sharell September 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

It’s almost been 5 years now, Prashant. I think I could convince an immigration officer that I was Indian… if only I could darken the colour of my eyes and skin a bit!

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naomi September 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with the India Post. When we package and mail our Fading Ladies tshirts (for charity) we have spent a pretty penny on “repeat mailings” because the shirts never arrive at their destination.

What gets me is the “registered mail” option, as we’ve had no luck getting anyone to honor the “registration” after a package has failed to deliver … even though we paid extra for the guarantee.

Sigh … oh well.

(love that India Post bag!)

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Sharell September 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

we have spent a pretty penny on “repeat mailings” because the shirts never arrive at their destination.

Oh no, Naomi. Is that for delivery within India, or abroad? :-(

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Prashanth September 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm

@Sharell

Not a big deal! Just take a vacation to one of those scorching hot places and get enough tan (I don’t know if Mumbai has one of those places, where you can get a tan)….Or else, just bribe the immigration officer and he will make sure that you are Indian. :P

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Indian Pundit September 24, 2010 at 3:06 pm

“India Post is reliable. I’m an admirer!”

Great post Sharell…….free-marketeers are now angry with you……!!!!

How can you choose govt. products over corporate ones!!!!!!

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Marina Marangos September 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm

My best story of the Indian Post is going to the post office to post a letter and being told there are no stamps
No stamps I said incredulously what do you mean ???
NO stamps ma’am
Please to come another day was the reply !
MM

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Sharell September 24, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Marina, that’s a classic story! I LOVE it. 8) I once went to an Indian post office and got told that they weren’t registering mail, and would only start doing so again after 2 days. An English friend once went to an Indian post office and the clerk refused to serve her, meanwhile serving all the locals instead. Funny stuff.

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D. Jain September 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Wow Sharell, our experiences have been so different. I don’t trust the Indian Post because we’ve had things stolen from letters we’ve sent to my nephews in Delhi. Once I sent a cool musical birthday card to one nephew, and he ran to the mailman for weeks looking for it, and it never came. Another time I sent some packs of cute stickers to my younger nephew, and wrote some comments about them in the card, and they were all confused because the stickers were gone. Someone had opened the envelope, taken them out, and then delivered it.

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Sharell September 24, 2010 at 6:11 pm

D, that’s terrible. I guess my items haven’t held the same appeal as stickers and musical cards!

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Bejuwala September 24, 2010 at 6:41 pm

So funny- my housemates saw one of those signature white cloth-wrapped/wax sealed packages of mine (probably a paan tin) and they thought it was a bomb! I had a good laugh. In fact, everything i get from DesiStores comes that way. How traditional!

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Anees September 24, 2010 at 7:25 pm

I think you have been lucky with India Post so far. I can believe what D.Jain & Naomi say. Because, I’ve heard my friends complain about missing parcels & stuff stolen from packages, especially when sent from India through India Post.

In your case, may be they didn’t like your designs (hahaha… ) or may be they had too many clothes themselves.

From my own experience, when I send stuff from UK I prefer Royal mail & India post delivers it efficiently. And nobody sends any parcels for me from home :(

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botham September 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm

A story about indian postal service:

This experience of mine is quite indelibly imprinted in my mind. I was may be 10 years old, and my father had gone to soviet union for his work. This was at a time when india was really closed off from the world, in terms of its economy. Well, my father, started sending me some great remote/wire controlled toys, cars, lunar buggies, race cars, model planes, etc. You name it, all the stuff a ten year old boy would love, after spending most of his life to date with uninspiring toys.

Well, the toys were not reaching us though. So, my mom decides to go to the post office and do some forceful enquiry. Lo behold what does she find, most of the post office workers had the toys all out and playing with them! I never got all the toys, some were broken, and some had their unique soviet batteries depleted. Crazy stuff. And, india being what it was, we just had to take it, no real recourse.

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Vir September 25, 2010 at 2:16 am

My in-laws often used to send foods and other stuff for my wife from abroad. One week after the package was sent, I used to start visiting the post office which happened to be in a small house in a nearby village. The postman at times used to be busy with his household chores when I used to knock. No intimation and no delivery though it was sent through speedpost.

Then we moved to another locality and i started visiting the main post office in Gurgaon. One fine day when I reached there to collect the package, the guys there pointed towards the stuff lying on the floor and asked me to collect and put it in an empty bori (jute bag). They blamed the customs officials for tearing off the package box so badly.

I hurriedly (and embarrassingly) collected the stuff including some clothes that had been sent for my wife and ran home. Later when my wife spoke with her parents on phone, we found out that some cans of Tuna and other foods were missing.

At times, packages sent by speed post were received in totally rotten condition. Tired of all this, I have somehow managed to stop the in-laws from sending anything. We travel to INA in Delhi and buy from there.

Compare this with the postal service in South Korea. We were on a holiday and had to send my son’s homework so that my brother could submit it on time. The postman there stood up and welcomed us and then himself neatly packed all the stuff. Free envelopes and cardboard boxes, drinking water, tables and chairs for visitors, and well maintained washrooms were the other pleasant features.

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Anna September 25, 2010 at 3:57 am

I love reading your blog, it has given me a deep love for India, and Indian culture. I am so pleased to read good things about India, because much of the time all that we who live in the West are exposed to are the negative aspects of a developing nation, and reading such lovingly crafted words about both the good and bad things about living in India has made me willing to consider traveling there one day in the future.

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Andrea September 25, 2010 at 6:50 am

I have mixed feelings about india post but would still prefer to use them over any extortionate private service. I have sent numerous parcels within india and to india. When i send a parcel internationally, i will always now include insurance after having lost one parcel. But when i put on insurance, i just put the bare minimum as i think it acts as a deterrant to would be thieves.

In small towns where there are no tourists there is no parcel wrapping service and it takes me at least two hours to get my parcel prepared. And then if a tailor has stitched, I often have to argue extensively with even the manager of the post office that the stitching is good enough to survive the trip. They fanatical about parcel wrapping. I have had to be very very persuasive when sending parcels as it seems they live in fear of poor quality postal service. Sometimes they refused insurance because the parcel was not wrapped so that the fabric was tight. As a traveller I don’t usually carry around sealing wax materials but it seems neither do the post offices and this is another part of the procedure which is tiresome to get resolved.

Finally i had to send parcels home the day before I left Mumbai this time. And guess what? That was the day there was a train strike in Mumbai and so the post offices weren’t operating normally because the staff couldn’t get to work. That was a most infuriating day since the post offices were open (as some stafff were there) but they refused to deal with my parcel. After a long runaround to several post offices, i returned to the original post office where the clerk on duty had offered to take my parcel but would not give me a receipt. it was only with the assurance of my mumbai friend who said she’d get the receipt the next day that i could be persuaded that this was a safe (and the only) way to get my parcel in the post (short of having my friend do all the running around for me and i didn’t want her to have to do that.

But you know, excepting that first one, all my parcels have arrived in tact and the costs are reasonable so i think i will stick with them in the future also.

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JAYESH September 25, 2010 at 7:46 am

I guess, Sharell, even home-made masala is not appreciated by the Indian Postal System!
Twice a year we parcel nearly 5 kg. masala from my grandmother’s place and every time it reaches safe, though, sometimes a few weeks off!

An interesting experiment that Baba tried was once he asked Rs. 100/- to be kept inside the masala box, without sealing the box properly and parcel it. We got everything just as it is!
But then, the strong stingy smell of masala powder must have put them off!

Its not related to the postal system, but I must tell of a story of a ‘delivery’ boy. (Just make sure Baba doesn’t read this!):-

Once, there was a young man who used to study at a college which was quite far away from his inaccessible village.
Indeed, travel to the village involved, in those times, changing two State Transport buses and even crossing a river by a ferry.
It so happened that the young man, now homesick, decided to visit his dear parents back in his village and declared his intentions to his friends staying in the nearby villages.
Friend One: Well, then, meet my mother, she will give you 50 puran-polis (Chapati stuffed with sweet puran – ask your sis-in-law and try to eat them. They are one of the best things I have eaten!)
I will write to her that you are coming.
Friend Two: My mother will give you 50 ladoos. Bring them safely.
Friend Three: Just my mother’s chapati and bhaji will do!

So, armed with these requests, the young man left for his home.
On his way back, he collected the required items.
However, the combination of so much food, a two-day journey and a hungry man was biased against the intactness of the food.

He stared longingly at the dabba containing the ladoos – bundi ladoos, so yummy!
Well, he decided, he couldn’t just open and eat any as the number of the items were known to both parties and besides he didn’t want to anger any of his friends. So, he thought, untill he came with a brilliant idea!

He took the ladoo dabba and shook it vigorously.
Opening it, he saw that some bundi had been forced to be separated from the parent ladoos, which remained of the same number, and were lying forlonly.
He was a good soul and so decided to end their misery. So he ate them.
He tried that trick a few times till the ladoos were almost half the size!

Then he eyed the more difficult (and far tastier) puran-polis.
He picked out two and ate them.
Two, however, were not nourishing, so, two more puran-polis left their companions forever!
He then opened the bundle of chapati and bhaaji.
He took a few chapatis and placed them carefully in the middle of the puran-poli bundle.

He reached his college.
The four friends sat in his room and opened their respective packs.
They checked and counted everything and were pleased.
They offered some to their friend, who for the sake of politeness, took two ladoos from the first friend.
Then, he offered to distribute the puran-polis.
He took the four ‘puran-polis’ and on insistence, took two more for himself!

After munching for a while, they thanked him profusely and went on their way.

Being a delivery boy, he declared to himself, was not such a bad thing after all!
Though, he decided, that repeating the feat, the next-time, might be hazardous to his friendhip.

(By the way, he later confessed and they still laugh about it when they meet! :-) )

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Carly J September 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

IS there anyway you could be convinced to send me a link to your Ebay store?
After all, I am an Indiaphile..I need to support my “habit”! ;-)

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Kate September 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Yes please for a link to the eBay store. I am interested in purchasing Indian art and clothing. Pleeeeeeeeeeease!

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Sharell September 25, 2010 at 1:57 pm

It’s actually not traditional Indian art and clothing, it’s more that bright trippy stuff that you see in tourist places (like Goa) which foreigners love. ;-)

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Prashanti September 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I must send this post to my mother. She works for India Post and will be mighty proud :)

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tina September 29, 2010 at 1:58 am

the link is http://stores.ebay.com/ShalinIndia

i highly recommend the store.

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Sharell September 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

Tina, that does look like an awesome store. Thanks for sharing! 8)

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Cm October 5, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Well, that explains why whenever I order something from India, it comes wrapped in white cloth! I was wondering about that :)

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Diana October 10, 2010 at 1:45 pm

hi, how do u buy books which are only available outside India? i’ve been looking on amazon and the cost of shipping is even more than the price of the products. wat do u do in such an instance?

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Sharell October 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Hi Diana, I was actually going to write a post about this because I’m a big reader! As an alternative to Amazon (which I do sometimes use), I either use http://www.flipkart.com/ (Indian based company but they often stock imported books) or buy them off US Ebay and get them sent. Hope this helps! :-)

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Diana October 13, 2010 at 2:48 am

thanks :) it’s a very useful site.

keep up the good writing. interesting to see India from your POV. love your assertiveness which comes in handy otherwise ppl take you for a ride. could be a reason why you’re treated better than your hubby?

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Sharell October 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

Hi Diana, I’m glad you like the site! I think it’s fabulous, one of my favourites! :-)

I think you could be right in regards to your other point. My hubby is very shanti and it takes a lot to get him irritated. Back home, I’m the same and I used to be very unassertive. However, I think my assertiveness here comes from frustration and injustice. It makes me so mad when people try and cheat me, or there’s no proper explanation for something. It depends on my mood too… I’d been irritated immensely by the whole bed incident and wasn’t in the mood for any more! ;-)

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diana October 15, 2010 at 9:51 pm

cant wait to start using it.

keep at it (the assertiveness) but make your anger work for you, not against you. you dont want to ruin your health.

familiarity breeds contempt i guess. have heard of many instances of indians treating other indians not so wonderfully as they would a non-Indian. Maybe it has something to do with stereotypes and assumptions that a non-Indian is always friendly.

I agree with u about the explanation part..logic is a concept that’s lost on some ppl..if they dont have an explantion, they just make things up. for example that guy/girl on your blog who assumed you should know things being an accountant.

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Sharell October 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm

for example that guy/girl on your blog who assumed you should know things being an accountant.

Oh, I remember that, it was absurd!

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Sagar November 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Indian post is very reliable & fast yet cheap. Few days ago my cousin sent me a parcel from Satara(approx 110km) through a private courier it took 7 days to reach, I felt like felt like hanging myself.

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shweta jain chopra March 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

wow!! what a post…im soo soo happy that someone has something nice to say about the indian post. I am a newly wed Indian bride living in South Korea, and a total fan of the streetside food in India. So you can understand my state here when i craved for gol gappas, or papdi chaat every now and then..also, im a designer..and a crafty geek..and delhi is such heaven for people like me where all the crafty materials are available for so less…well thanks to indian post and my darling of a mum…she sends me 20 kgs worth of food items and craft supplies every 3 months….for less than a 100 $!!its like i’m home in a foreign land!! Now im looking for a similar service in south korea,..which could help me move back to india when the time comes…but nothing is coming close to the prices and service i require.
Love your blog..and its amazing to see you seep in the indian culture..way to go!

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Sharell March 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Welcome to the blog Shweta. :-) I’m so glad to hear of your positive experience with India Post. I’m still a big fan. They haven’t let me down yet.

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Anuj May 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Im not sure about india post but i always get parcels delivered from speed post. They used barcode tracking system which really helps. And i should mention that i receive parcels from speed post more quickly than private couriers like DTDC or firstflight, like always within 3 days max. parcels from hong kong or surrounding south-east asia countries take at least 2 weeks to reach me. They have never missed a delivery for me.

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Soumi Roy July 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

India Post is definitely not reliable. I’m a book blogger and reviewer. I receive many review copies form well know US and UK based publishing houses and authors. I never receive most of the books and they either get lost or being stolen in their way to me. I have also noticed the items that are misplaced are mostly send to me via regular air mail. I think whoever is doing is is very cleaver and doesn’t steal items with tracking id, only items of regular mail so no one can track it. India Post sucks and worst service in entire universe.

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Sharell शारेल July 6, 2012 at 10:23 am

Oh no! Very sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad experience. :-(

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ashu August 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Really glad to seen these valuable words about the Indian post from you. i have seen the comment from Diana that the flipkart is best for online books purchase. I want to knew whether you bought books from snapdeal because i placed order on snapdeal for books
http://www.snapdeal.com/products/books-movies-books
Stieg Larsson box pack
money and law of attraction

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Sharell शारेल August 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I buy all my books from Flipkart. I’ve used Snapdeal for other things but not books.

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Saurabh September 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

Hey Sharell,

Gud to read ur positive experience with India Post.
I am currently living in Melbourne, Australia, and want some stuff delivered to me from India.
Would u recommend using Speed Post service by India Post?
Thanks in advance for ur reply. :-)

-Saurabh

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Sharell शारेल September 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

Hi Saurabh, I would strongly recommend that you don’t use it!! In my experience, it is not speedy at all. I’ve tried it around 5 times now. They say the delivery time is around 3 days, but it’s more like 10! :-( It’s terrible. Regular registered airmail is more cost effective, and reliable. I’ve had parcels reach Australia in a week, sent by registered airmail.

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ashu sood October 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm

sharell Thanks for your reply. but i had really very good experience with snapdeal. I would like to suggest snapdeal as a best place for buy books online

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