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WHEN was the last time you wrote something - something literal, that is, writing something by hand instead of posting a message on the computer or sending an SMS? One of my friends told me the only thing she writes by hand these days is the shopping list.

Just the other day, my grandmother asked me to get her some aerogrammes. Do you even remember those? If you are 25 or under, chances are you have no idea what I am talking about. Well, aerogrammes were what people used to buy from the post office when they wanted to write a letter to someone who lived overseas. It sounds so antiquated now, right? Aerogrammes were blue sheets of paper: that were self-sealing and prepaid. You didn't need an envelope or stamps. Just write on the aerogramme, seal it and pop it into the postbox. I don't even know if they make these any more. After all, do people even write letters to each other these days? They write emails and forward jokes or they leave comments on blogs, but letters?

Yes, with the advent of the email and the mobile phone, the art of writing is dying, if not already dead. There was a time when you could recognise someone by his handwriting. These days, the only bits of handwriting we come across on a day-to-day basis are hastily scribbled notes. There was a time when we were taught good penmanship in schools. It was not good enough to learn how to read or write... you had to write beautifully. We had to practise our cursive writing and there was a prescribed way to form and join letters of the alphabet into words. But as we grew older, individualistic tendencies crept in. In secondary schools we started developing our own unique handwriting style.

When I look at my own handwriting now, I see I have become lazy. Computers are the enemy of good handwriting, don't you think? Still, my handwriting is pretty legible, even when I write fast. I often thought the entire time I was growing up that I would have beautiful, elegant handwriting when I became an adult. That didn't quite happen. Now that we hardly write by hand, I think even that will deteriorate further.

I miss the joy of receiving letters and writing them. I know email is faster but there is something about holding those pieces of paper in your hand and reading words formed and joined together in the unique way of the writer. Oddly, the handwriting I miss the most was also the worst handwriting I have ever come across. Rosemary's handwriting was the subject of many jokes in our circle of friends. The sentences were worse than scrawls. Somehow, I was the only one who could decipher her letters from the many places she lived overseas with her diplomat husband. Whenever a letter from Rosemary arrived, we had to meet up and I had to read it to the gang. By the time they lived in Venezuela, there was email and those lovely, scrawly letters ended. It was through those sprawling letters that we got to know about those foreign lands and more importantly, how she was doing.

These days, there is the immediacy of SMSes and emails. So, there is simply no need for letters any more. But this much more personal method of connecting with people you care for is not quite dead. My best friend still gives me cards to celebrate various occasions: my birthday, Christmas. And in them, she always writes a little message. I love those little personal touches even though we live in the same city!

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. From paragraph 1, why is posting a message on the computer or sending an SMS not considered literal ?
  2.

From paragraph 2,

a) what are aerogrammes ?

b) give two reasons why using aerogrammes for letter writing is considered antiquated ?

  3.

From paragraph 3,

a) what are the three aspects of good penmanship ?

b) what happens to one's handwriting as one grows older ?

  4.

From paragraph 4,

a) why do you think the writer says that computers are the enemy of good handwriting ?

b) what does the writer feel will eventually happen to her handwriting ?

  5.

a) From paragraph 5, what two things did the writer gain from her friend's sprawling letters ?

b) From paragraph 6, how would you like your friends to send their greetings for various occasions ? Give reasons for your choice.

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Answers
 

1.

They are typed messages, not handwritten messages.
 

2.

a) They were blue sheets of paper for letters to be sent overseas and that were self-sealing and prepaid.

b) The two reasons are: (i) most people do not write letters now (ii) they write emails and forward jokes or they leave comments on blogs.

 

3.

a) The three aspects are -- writing beautifully, cursive writing and following a prescribed way to form and join letters of the alphabet into words.

b) Individualistic tendencies creep in and one develops one' sown unique handwriting style.

 

4.

a) with a computer, a person types instead of writing and may become too lazy to write.

b) It will deteriorate as she hardly writes by hand.

 

5.

a) She got to know about the foreign lands her friend stayed in and more importantly, how she was doing.

b) (i) I would like the greetings to be sent by SMS and email because they can be received within seconds. (ii) I would like the greetings to be sent by letter because they are a more personal way of connecting people.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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