Kambi Thapal

This post will make no sense to most..nevertheless I am still hopeful that someone would get it !.

I am not sure what is the actual English translation of kambi thapal. In the beginning, there was anjal post, where the runner carried letters/messages from one place to other. My grandmother used to sing the song anjal thapal karan ( runner) used to sing. I can’t remember it. Then the system improved and letters were send by carriages ( pigeons, bullock carts, horse drawn etc I guess) Then eventually, telegrams could be send from one place to other and kambi thapal office ( kambi = metal cable and thapal = post) came in to effect.

When I was about three, my father read a kambi thapal story for me that appeared in the Balarama children’s magazine. This story and the other one pashantey dooshi ( story about missing needle in the clock) are the two stories I remember clearly from my toddler days.

The story goes like this. This old man had only one daughter. When she got married, she moved to the next village which was two days of walk away, One day, the old lady made pal payasam ( milk dessert)  and both the husband and wife remembered that their only daughter loved payasam  very much. How to send some to her they wondered? They were both too old and they couldn’t walk that far. Then they remembered the kambi thapal. office So they packed the pal payasam in an earthen jar and took it to the post office.

The post man was a young guy. The smell of the pal payasam  was too tempting and he opened the jar to just take a small bite..one bite lead to another, soon there was none left.

Months later, the daughter came to visit the parents and the parents asked her how was the pal payasam?  which got the reply, ” what payasam?”
The old man was very angry and he marched to the post office. He asked the post man what happened to the payasam  he send to his daughter.
The post man replied ” Aiyyoo sarey,  I send the paysam pot on the kambi thapal,  but someone else send a  ulakka ( metal pole used to pound grains) and kaboom they both crashed..

I used to imagine the payasam pot and the ulakka travelling on opposite directions over a metal cable and crashing in to each other..

And why did I write this post?
Yesterday I was working on the retaining wall and was using the metal tamping rode. My neighbours ( the tradies) were very amused that I, an Indian female of “questionable” strength knew how to use a tamping rode.
There was no point in telling them that I used to help my mother grinding grains with the ulakka. I remembered the story my father read for me and tried telling it to my kids. They didn’t understand. So here it is.


4 thoughts on “Kambi Thapal

  1. I have heard this story too…
    Don't know if it was in Balarama, though.

    Good going, I read your posts daily. First thing I do in office daily 🙂

    Wishing you all the best….

  2. I have heard this story too…
    Don't know if it was in Balarama, though.

    Good going, I read your posts daily. First thing I do in office daily 🙂

    Wishing you all the best….

  3. “Kambi Thapal” simply transalated is Post and Telegraphs. The postal services prior to the current British version prevalent in India, were carried out by the Anchal- which is postal service in vernacular. The clerk was “Anchal Shipaai”. The letters were carried by a runner- “Anchal Ottakkaran”. As years passed “Kambi Illa Kambi” or wireless got introduced to Travancore. One had to drop the letter in the “anchal petti” usually present at and in front of the “Anchal Appees”, apart from an occasional one at the village “peedika”. To send a cover we had to use a “Randanna” “stamp coveru” ( Now you know how the Kolaveri song came about!). Money Order was the most trusted way to send money.
    Today post offices in India are trying to survive , selling even coke!!

  4. Shij: it is so good to know that you remember the story. I felt so miserable explaining ulkka and kambi thapal to my kids!
    MK: do u remember the song?? The runners used to have special songs to announce their arrival at the post

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