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Comity Tracks on amity mail

January 12, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Comity tracks for amity mail

Namit Agarwal: A love for the letters

Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, The Hon. Prime Minister, Islamabad, Pakistan.

That was the address on the envelope that Namit Agarwal, 19, sent by ordinary mail on November 20, 2003. Inside was a letter requesting a few words from the Pakistani leader “on peace and a message to the youth of the nation (India)”. This earned him a police inquiry — a call from Delhi, followed by a Calcutta Police sleuth at his Jodhpur Park door (who was bowled over by Namit’s “collection”). The reply from Islamabad, on February 12, more than made up for the trouble.

“The times of achieving national glory through war are over… It is only through peace and mutual amity, as good neighbours, that an atmosphere can be created in which youth… can draw the maximum advantage…” The two paragraphs penned by Prime Minister Jamali have inspired the student of Bhawanipur Gujarati Education Society to spread the word of friendship.

It all began in 1998, when the numismatic and philatelist decided to pursue another hobby — collecting autographs and pictures of world leaders. His first letter, to then US President Bill Clinton, went unanswered. His second attempt, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie, turned into a lasting relationship (“The Prime Minister and Cherie are always very touched by the expression of such warm feelings and support,” wrote 10 Downing Street).

In the past five years, Namit has written to, and received replies from, the likes of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Queen Elizabeth of England, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak. His favourite ‘pen pal’ is none other than Nelson Mandela (“Your message gives me strength and hope and I cannot imagine a birthday without it!”).

“I started with asking for stamps at first, and then autographed photographs. Nelson Mandela has sent me books, posters and stamps,” smiles the Ist year B.Com student. “But in the subsequent letters, I ask them for their views on various matters, more recently peace. Now, I am going to collect messages from my school and friends and send them to Prime Minister Jamali, to show him that we understand.”

The envelopes, with just the illustrious name, the city and country on the envelope, unerringly find their target. And the replies renew Namit’s faith. “My teachers are very excited about the letter from Pakistan. And my parents, who have supported me but didn’t want me to send a letter to Pakistan, are also very happy,” adds Namit.

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