Friday, August 31, 2007

Comic - The incredible Hulk

GPS Position : 34 57N , 075 01W ( )

The last few days have been fun. I'm back at sea & I must say that it does feel good in many ways to be back here & at least have some illusion of control! I am coasting the United States & so let me today show you some comic stamps from the US.
Recently Swan from Postcrossing was kind enough to swap the full set of these stamps with me. But the stamps featured here are the one stuck on an envelope and sent to me by Laura (Also from Postcrossing). It was actually a sort of a surprise to me
that the stamps are actually the sticker type & you only have to peel them off to stick them. For some reason, I don't really like that idea. If it was convenience I wanted, I would send an email. J

But the plus side of the sticker sheet was that they could put behind the stamps a bit of background about each stamp. Here's what the sheet had to say about the Hulk stamp:

" The Incerdible Hulk : Art by Rich Buckler & John Romita. After being caught in a Nuclear explosion Dr Robert Bruce Banner finds himself transformed during times of stress into the dark personification of his rage & fury. The most powerful man-like
creature to ever walk the face of earth, The Incredible Hulk!"

About the cover art :

" The Incredible Hulk #1 May 1962 : Art by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman. When a man unwittingly enters the site where a weapon called the Gamma bomb is being tested, he is rescued by its developer, Dr Bruce Banner. Exposure to the bombs rays transforms
Banner into Hulk, allowing him to express his darker side."

The thing about these stamps I recd was that even though they are fixed on the envelope, they reached me in the mint condition. The reason is that American envelopes must be passed through a machine & that only makes one continuous mark on the
envelope. As a result if the stamps are pasted in two levels, one set actually comes out in mint condition. If this was India, the envelope would be painstakingly stamped so many times that not only would the India post make sure that the stamp could
never be used again, but probably USPS would be suspicious if the said entity was a postage stamp in the first place. J

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Stuck in the middle of the Ocean

There have not been many entries in my blog over the last few days. The reason for this is that I have joined a Ship again and this particular moment finds me far removed from the Internet. But regardless, I shall keep trying to updating the blog by
email. The only problem with this is that I will not be able to check up on the stuff I write. Probably a good thing. :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

300 Years of 15 Punjab Regiment

After my last post about the Indian Regiment that helped squash the first war of Indian Independence, let us talk about another one. The Punjab Regiment has been doing it for much more the 150 year of the Sikh Regiment. In fact the India Post released a stamp commemorating the 300 years of the establishment of the Punjab Regiment. This regiment has the dubious honour of receiving battle honours for crushing the Indian war of independence at Lucknow.

But if the India Post could find it in their heart to forgive the regiment, then who are we to harbour any ill feelings. The Punjab regiment is naturally one of the oldest regiment in the Indian Army. One of the interesting things about the Punjab regiment is that it was one of the first regiments to volunteer for service abroad over sea & land. As a result not only is their motto, "By land & sea", but also its crest also has a ship built in it. This is probably one of the only infantry regiments with a ship on it.

The 15 Punjab was raised on Baishaki Day of 1705 by Baba Alla Singh, the founder of patiala state. Apart from being the oldest infantry in the Indian army, they are also the second most decorated. Of course if you consider that they are the oldest, that might not work out to a very good average rate of decorations per year! But then lives can' be calculated in averages I guess.

Source & further reading : Global Security ,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

150 Years of the Sikh Regiment

While it is much rarer for the stamps to be released on particular squadrons of the Air Force, many regiments of the Army have had stamps released on their behalf. The one that we are going to talk about today is the stamp commemorating 150 years of the third batallion of the Sikh Regiment.

The Sikh regiment is probably one of the most decorated Regiments in the India army with 2 Param Vir Chakra, 14 mahavir chakras & 10 Victoria Crosses & 68 Vir Chakras. The sixth regiment came into existence on 1st Aug 1846. If you go back to my post on the first war of independence, you will probably realise that this regiment actually fought against India in India's war of Independence. It was with the help of the Sikh Regiment that the British were actually able to take back Delhi from the Indians.

India post has decided to demonstrate that it holds no grudges against the good chaps & released a stamp on them in 2006.

Any mention of the Sikh regiment would be incomplete without mention of the "Battle of Saraghari". Its an amazing story of valour in which 21 men fought of an army of more then 10,000 tribesmen till their death. In fact the UNESCO has described the Battle of Saragarhi as one of eight stories of collective bravery.

There is just one thing I would like to raise here. I agree that I come across as a cynic but why is it that the greatest moment of any group, be it a batallion, or a country comes across when all of its members die? Maybe one day in 1968, a platoon of Sikh infantry lost its way & ended having a drink with another pakistani platoon. Why couldn't that be its finest moment?

Sources & Further reading : Wiki, Bharat Rakshak , Saraghari in Wiki .

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

75 years of the Salt Satyagraha

Today is the Indian independence day. I sadly don't have a stamp sheet commemorating that day, so I'll show you a great miniature sheet from the struggle for independence.

This is the sheet commemorating the 75years of the salt Satyagarh, or the Dandi March as it is popularly called. Salt is one of the basic components of any meal. In hot climates like India, there is profuse sweating and salt no longer remains a luxury, but an necessity. The British government had imposed a salt tax, & decreed that it was illegal for anyone other then the British Govt to produce salt. As a result, even workers who could have collected salt for free from the saline fields on the alkaline coast had to pay money for the same mineral.

In 1930, when Gandhi was looking for an issue to unite the people, he decided to use the salt issue & on 12th March 1930, Gandhi & his satyagrahis set out from their Ashram at Sabarmati for the coastal village of Dandi. The route was about the length of 240 miles & lasted for 23 days. The march reached Dandi on the 6th of April & Gandhi boiled a lump of mud & water to make salt.

The Dandi march is considered a major political landmark in the Indian freedom struggle as it raised considrable world awareness to the cause & brought much more of the indian population directly in the cause for freedom struggle.

The beautiful miniature sheet actually shows us the compleat route followed by Gandhi & an acutal picture of the march culminating at Dandi. The Stamps themselves are classics. The first stamp has the above picture in it. It remains the most popular image taken during that march. The second stamp has in the background the headlines from the "Bombay chronicle". The third stamp is a picture of Gandhi symbolically picking up the salt from the coast & the fourth stamp shows the writing of Gandhi.

He writes, " I want world sympathy in this battle of right against might".

Happy independence day! :)

Source & further reading : Scott Graham , Wiki

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dinosaurs - Stegosaurus

My Dinosaur collection is coming along nicely. Following my posts on the Dinosaurs from Thailand, I got some more Dino stuff from friends around the world. Lenka From the Czech republic happened by this blog and so very kindly sent this stunning stamp of the Stegosaurus. The stamp actually bears the picture drawn by Zdenek Burian. You can see his name written on the top left of the picture. Burian is one of the foremost painted of prehistoric life. He has drawn more then 1500 works on the subject & he has also given illustrations for famous books such as Robinson Crusoe & Tarzan. What makes his work most remarkable, is that he did not even have access to the Skeletal structures of Dinosaurs to work on, but actually had to rely on pictures of the same.

I sadly still remain as clueless about the Dino family as I was before , & I would put these Stegosaurus under the category of "Eaten by T-Rex"! And to complete the pudding (or is it the pudding on the cake), I also got a postcard Lamborama of post crossing featuring these chaps.
Thanks a lot both Lenka & Lamborama for the neat stuff. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ascent of Mount Everest - 2003

Another beautiful stamp that India post released a while back was one commemorating the 50 years of the ascent of the Everest.

One of the first serious attempts to climb the Everest was done by the great explorer George Mallory & Andrew Irvine in June 1924. The two never returned & it remained a great mystery till 1999 as to if they had indeed climbed the Everest before perishing. In 1999, the Mallory & Irvine research expedition finally found their bodies and it was established that the two had not been able to make it to the top.

It was much much later in 1953 that Tenzing & hillary finally made it to the top of Everest. Apparently they only stayed on top for about 15 minutes as they were low on oxygen and then made their way down again. They barely had time to bury a few sweets, plant a flag & click a few pictures.

As I have mentioned earlier, this type of a miniature sheet is my favourite where the stamp is only a part of the bigger picture. Every time I hold a miniature sheet like this, I feel like going in a corner & giving an evil snicker at all the suckers who got conned into buying the incomplete picture for the same cost. :)

One great site for people interested in this is the national geographic which has a neat page hosted for this occasion.

EDITED- 14.08.07

All those who actually did read through this post till here, really must read the comment no 2 from Jake who actually was part of the Mallory & Irvine expedition of 1999. Thanks for dropping by & correcting me Jake!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Paquebot mail - the follow up

In addition to my earlier post on the Paquebot, I was kindly directed to the Australian postal regulations by a kind reader. On the page 14, the Regulations clearly define the Paquebot mail & the process to deal with the same. I wish all the other countries had similarly clear regulations.

Also of great help have been Richard from sevenoceans, who wrote back to me in detail about how the Paquebot could be used today. & Also George from Gulfman who is keenly interested in this and has offered to help me with sending the Paquebot once I get on board the ship. I think it'll be great fun to finally get down to sending a Paquebot. Thanks all. :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

1857 - The First war for Independence

I have always believed in consistency & I consistently scored dismally in History. And other subjects. But History in particular was something I simply "Didn't get". And it still confuses me. During the time I was in school, we refered to the uprising of 1857 as the "Mutiny of 1857". The struggle for independence - so we were taught - only began in the began in the 1900's with the call for "swaraj" by Tilak.

But today, any mention of the word "mutiny" is reacted to with great outrage & blogger effigies are burnt on the roads. It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the war for independence truly began in 1857.

To remove any lingering doubts among the cynics, the India post came out with a surprise release titled " 1857 - The First war for Independence "

Reagrdless of the politics of it all, the uprising of 1857 was certainly an event that changed the course of the country. Practically every part of the country under the contol of the East India Company rose up in arms and the conflict was brutal. The Miniature sheet shows the artists impression of the battles at Kanpur & Lucknow.

The Kanpur (Cwanpur) mutiny was a turning the notions of the british public firmly against the Indians. In Kanpur, The British men & women were killed after they had surrendered to the army of Nana Sahib.

The seige of Lucknow was probably the most famous of the uprising. The british Commisrner resident of Lucknow managed to fortify about 1700 soldires inside the residency & after 90 days of the seige, the soldires were reduced to less than 300. In September 25, the first british troops managed to get through the seige, led by Havelock, but as they could not break out, they joined the residency under the seige. The Seige was finally lifted in November by another british Column under Colin Campbell.

The book "Freedom at midnight" tells us that throughout the seige of Lucknow, the Union Jack kept flying on the flag mast of the Residency to signal any approaching relief column that the british still awaited them. Due to this, even after the British supressed the Indians, the flag was kept flying to honor the dead. In the whole of the British Empire, when all Flags were pulled down at Dusk, this was the only Union jack that was kept Hoisted. The story goes that on indepndence, the British Engineers, cut down the Flag Mast & poured cement in the foundation. No Other flag would fly where the Lucknow Union jack Flew.

Postcards from India Post - Endangered Birds

Since we were on the subject of the postcards, I wanted to show you another set released by the India post. This set of postcards and stamps are on the endangered birds found in India. I don't really collect much of bird stamps, but the postards are drawn beautiully. If you enlarge the picture, you'll see that the background is made in a wooden finish and the sketches of the birds are nice to look at.

The birds that have the sad fate of being on this list are the Greater Adjutant Stroke, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, Manipur bush Quail & the Lesser Florican.

Of the above birds, the Lesser florican seems to be a most bewildered bird trying to figure out what we have against it. Indians arn't even that keen on ducks. But a bit of research shows that the poor fellow has decided to breed in Pakistan and live its life in India. As it crosses & recrosses probably the most volatile border in the world, one only wonders how it managed to live for so long. My friends in the Indian Army will only put this down to a definitive proof that the Paki's can't shoot straight!

It is probably singlehandedly keeping the population of Frogs at bay in the wetlands. My Friend Eric collects frog stamps, so I think he'll be glad to see the back of the Greater Adjutant Stroke. :)

And finally lets hope that the Nilgiri laughing trush never has the last laugh.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Paquebot. mail

I'm not sure if the kind readers of this blog know that I work in the Merchant navy. Well the fact is that I do. Out at sea, under international conventions (UNCLOS), Every vessel needs to be registered to a country. And the deck of the ship is actually considered part of the territory of the flag state.

Now under the rules framed under the Universal Postal Union, a letter posted on the high seas, when posted at the first port of arrival of the ship to a country, may be posted using the stamps of the registry of the vessel.

So if tomorrow I join an Indian vessel, I could post an envelope with Indian Stamps at any port from Singapore to New York. This mail is called a Paquebot mail and is valued very highly among people who collect these. (I find that eventually you find that everything is collected by someone!) .There are special marks used by different port post-offices to specially mark the Paquebot mail. & these are the classic's that are highly valued.

When you think about it, I've been on merchant ships for the last decade and half and sending mails through the normal means when the abnormal means was normally available to me. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Postcards from India Post - Buddha

In continuation of the series of postcards on the Himalayan lakes, the India post has also come out with a similar series on the 2550 years of the mahaparinirvana of Buddha. The quality of these cards is great as well and the cards look classy even without the accompanying Buddha Stamp. I think the India post is simply another thing that keeps getting better with age. :)

Postcards from India Post - The Himalaya lakes

I wrote earlier about the five himalayan lakes on which the Indian post had released postage stamps on this year. It came as a pleasent surprise that they have also released a set of postcards as well on the above subject.

This set of five postcards comes in a neat package and does give some nice views of the lakes. There are of course one each for all the lakes.

I have been hanging out at postcrossing for the last few days and the people who actually like to collect postcards, really like postcards with matching stamps. The guys out there would really dig these posties. These kind of philatelic packages are probably common for any reader from US or Europe, but it feels great to see such releases by the India post.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

National parks of India

I haven't got much to put up here today, apart from this FDC on the national parks of India. I snapped of a picture of it before I dropped it off in the post to a friend in Turkey. These are some great stamps featuring the Bandhavgarh National park, Bandipur national park, Kaziranga national park, Periyar national park & the Mudumali national park.

Of the above, I have been only to the Kaziranga park sometime during the early Nineties. Stamps like these remind me that there still remain so many places to visit and so many things to do that it all seems a bit depressing. :)

Would have been great if they have made a nice miniature sheet of the five stamps.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Indian Air force - The Gnat (Mk I)

Another neat stamp that I recently got my hands on was this one from way back in 1967. The stamp depicts the Gnat. The Gnat was made by the Folland company in 1955, but it never came to much till the Indian Air force decided to pick it up and use it as its mainline fighter plane. The Indians bought 40 airframes in the various stages of construction and then built a modified version of the same at HAL called the Ajeet Gnat (Mk I). The IAF operated the Gnat from 1958 to 1978 & 175 of these beautiful aircraft were built at the HAL.Dad with Gnat 1969

The reason that I'm rather fond on these air planes is that dad flew these planes extensively in 22 Sqn and 21 sqn of the IAF, and also flew a lot of these babies as a test pilot in the HAL.

The Gnats achieved great success as a combat air plane against the more technically superior Sabres of the Pakistani air force. As per dad, during the 1971 war, the biggest advantage that they had during the 1971 war was that the Pakistani pilots simply couldn't spot these small airplanes.

I've put up more pictures of dad during that time over at "My daddy Strongest". Drop by there if you have some time. Dad still has the helmet worn in the picture down below. I'm sure there are a lot of great memories of the plane inside the head that wears that helmet as well. :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

100 Years of the India post

The kind reader might remember my previous post about the 150 years of the India post. I recently got my hands on the stamp released by India post on the occasion of the 100 years of the India post in 1954.

For some strange reason, all the three postmen in the stamp look the same. Its as if a cartoon character went hopping in different settings for a photo-op.

I agree that true blood philatelists out there will shudder at the state of the stamp. But maybe the 50 years stamp that must have been released in 1904 will be in better shape. :)

Anuradha & the Speed post

I came across a story of Anuradha and the India Post. Its always great to hear nice things about the India post & experiences such as these do restore belief in the one of the great institutions of the country. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The postbox Revisited

This is my last post on the letter box. I swear. At least for the near future. So kindly bear with me for this post.

You might remember this distasteful picture from one of my previous posts Reg the postbox. I was going through my first day covers and came across the cover for that particular series. This postbox looks remarkably like the postbox in the picture.

I'm not sure how much you can enlarge the picture of the FDC, but the postbox has markings of the kingdom of Travencore. Below the writing "Travencore" the emblem of the state (a conch shell) is also displayed.

I went back to the picture of my postbox and if you enlarge it, you'll see some indentation also at approximately the same place. On my next trip to the post office I determined to find out more about the postbox.

When I went there yesterday, I realised that the indentation was actually the scar left on the postbox when someone had gouged out the original markings (with probably a crowbar). I'm sure it must be a rage to destroy all traces of the British raj on the eve of Independence, but I find it truly sad to see some of the injustices we commit to the History in the name of the future.