I feel I’m really lucky to be born in a family who always encouraged me to have hobbies. From a very young age I developed the interest of collecting stamps. Stamp Collection is the collection of postage stamps and related objects. It is one of the world’s most popular hobbies (at least it used to be). A hobby is a regular activity done for pleasure – typically during leisure. It is the perfect Me-Me time where you can enjoy your time alone. Postal stamps always intrigued me with their intricate detail and fascinating history. They also increased my love for learning about different countries, cultures, currencies and lifestyles.
Thanks to my childhood best friends Asma and Sarah, I had been using snail mail regularly from a very young age. Papa was in the Air force so I was always posted to other cities. We used to write each other letters and post cards. For me they were only half the excitement, the other half was on the envelope. I was always so excited to see the stamps that had come with my letters. I even used to go to the post offices in my locality and ask them to show me all new stamps so I could buy them from my pocket money.
My grandmother Rosemary really encouraged me with this hobby and that was definitely very rewarding. I love working on this hobby with her as we both are equally interested in it. Plus she is the one who taught me how to organize stamps, how to put them in proper sequence and how to keep duplicates. She gave me her vintage stamp albums, a whole lot of stamps she collected over the years and stamp equipment like stock books, stamp hinges and magnifying glass to get me started.
My grandmothers’ Grand-pop Walter Mabert was the one whom she inherited this hobby from. He was very much into stamp collection and passed on his hobby to my grandmother and helped her in her albums. She has now passed it all to me. I love these albums as they are so ancient and have priceless stamps from about 4 generations. I feel this also connects me to my earlier generations which are no longer in this world. I still have Walter Mabert’s tin boxes that he used to keep his stamps in.
As time passed by, people started sending emails to each other rather than using snail mail (and then they even stopped sending emails). We then started receiving letters without any stamps. I remember the heartache I felt when I first realized that postal stamps are not used anymore. Meanwhile I moved to England and because of weight limitations, I wasn’t able to take my Stamp Album with me there. I managed to live over 3 years without it. In 2012 when I came to Pakistan, I was able to take my stamp album back with me to the UK. Being so disconnected with the hobby I wasn’t sure how to start again. My sister Nataliya encouraged me to take out time out of my busy schedule to reconnect with my hobbies. By 3 years I felt distant to the idea of starting again. I then started keeping an eye open for any stamps I received by post. Slowly I started looking forward to the few minutes I had at the end of the day to stick stamps into the album (using hinges) or organizing them for my album. I realized I had been missing out on so much happiness in life in all those years.
I once entered a Red Cross charity shop in Windsor when I was overwhelmed to see world stamp packets being sold for only a pound. I bought all 3 that the store had then. Since I was working in Windsor on weekends at that time. I thought I would buy more from there later. I discovered that e-bay and Amazon had a lot of world stamps being sold for really cheap prices like 3 pounds or so. I gladly ordered some. Recently at a Literary festival in Islamabad, I bought 2 expensive stamp albums filled with world stamps that further added to my collection. That’s mainly how I got most of my stamps.
Stamp collection requires a lot of time, dedication and at times money too so you can buy the stamps. One can always find cheaper and reasonable ways of buying stamps but time is definitely needed for this hobby. Since last year, I have finally been getting some time for myself and so have been busy with them. It keeps me busy and happy at the same time. I have come to believe that this time that you spend in doing something that you really love is very important for your overall well being. We all think about our diet, exercise but don’t pay much attention to our other personal needs such as hobbies and interests.
We often spend all our lives in doing things for others. I’m not saying that its a bad thing; but if you keep putting everyone else’s interests above yours, the resentment will be carried in one way or another and will disturb you in the long run. Its better to spend most of your time doing things for others but take out some time for yourself even if its as less as once a week. Use this time to look after your own interests, something that you really enjoy doing. This will make you a contented and happier person while you carry on doing stuff for others with no resentment whatsoever.
I realized that its very easy for us to say that we don’t get time for our hobbies. That is actually not true. We all know that life is short. That is more reason for us to plan and prioritize our lives better. We all are guilty of wasting a lot of precious time watching TV shows that we don’t even like that much, or facebooking for hours when we know we could be doing something more productive. We need to make sure we take out time for our hobbies which identify who we are. If we continue to ignore our hobbies (or our friends), soon enough we’ll left with none. This would damage our personal identity as we’ll only be what our spouse/family/culture has made us.
I really do hope that when my next generations come, they are equally interested in this hobby so I can pass my collection over to them. It would be a pity if none of my descendants are interested and I have no choice but to sell these priceless albums. It would feel terrible to part from such an amazing inherited collection. I don’t think any amount of money would do justice to all these albums which are worth a lot more than any amount of money that can possibly be offered. But that’s life we all have to go one day leaving everything we collect behind. I just would want to leave these babies in safe hands before I depart. I’m sure my great grand father Walter Mabert would be smiling down at me to see how I’ve kept his stamps and hopefully I can pass them on to someone who cares as much.