It is time to say '100' for telegram services

Code 100 was used to transmit message of condolence

It is time to say '100' for telegram services

If you want to express grief following the death of people in your know how, just write ‘100’ -- it will reach the family in a jiffy. With exactly a month left for telegraph services to be closed permanently on July 15, the very code is apt for the occasion.

The particular code is one among 44 code numbers used for faster communication through telegram -- that is on its death bed. A recent circular issued by the Department of Telecommunication, says that telegram services will be stopped permanently.

According to the list of standard phrases for greetings telegrams displayed at the central telegraph office (CTO) at Moti Khana building opposite Mysore Palace on New Sayyaji Rao road, the code ‘100’  means - My deep condolences. It’s the most used code by service users along with ‘1’ reading ‘Heartiest diwali greetings’; ‘8’- best wishes for long and happy married life; ‘16’- My heaven’s choicest blessings be showered on young couple; ‘17’- wish you a both happy and prosperous married life; and ‘25’- Convey our blessings to newly married couple. To wish poll winners, code ‘12’ is used to say - Hearty congratulations on successful election. While all the  43 code numbers are in numerical order starting from the number one, ‘100’ is the 44th code.

Malegappa, who is in-charge of CTO told  Deccan Herald that though Mysore too had telegram services since it’s inception over 160 years ago, he was unaware of the exact date and year. However, he is yet to receive the official memo on stopping the services permanently.

However, there’s been lukewarm response to telegram services for the past five years. When this reporter went to the office around 1.30 pm, the man at the counter was waiting for the first customer of the day. On an average three to 10 opt for telegram serivces per day and in the case of phonogram (taking message over phone if the customer is not able to physically deliver the message) it is between 40 and 50 per day. The charge per minimum 30 words of the message is Rs 28 for telegram and Rs five more for phonogram.

Narayan, a retired employee of the telegraph department said that in the year 1965, the minimum words were 10, at the rate of Rs 1.50, which later saw a rise up to Rs two, Rs 2.50 and Rs 3.50, subsequently. However, it was in the year 1997 that tax was levied along with the charge.

At that time, there were five to six dedicated counters and there were days, when over 1,000 telegrams are handled everyday.

Soon after receiving the telegram, the message was dispatched through messengers. One such messenger, who retired 10 years ago said that it was a time bound job with the “target of 50 messages in three hours”. In case of failure to reach the message to the addressee, the messengers had to explain the reason.

To ensure that the message reached the addressee, another messenger was being sent. Though the messengers were also called ‘telegraph man’, they were later called as ‘phone mechanics’. This required completion of the required training.

From the year 2005 onwards, the messenger’s job was outsourced to private agencies. Change in set up also brought change in services. In the present scenario, barring city limits, outstation telegrams are delivered through ordinary post.

From PO to palace vicinity

Earlier post and telegraph (P and T) was a department catering to both the services. In Mysore, the office was situated at the main post office at Nehru Circle. Though the post office exists still at Nehru Circle, it was in the early 50’s telegraph office was shifted to the current location. Reason - to bring it closer to the public for easy accessibility, according to historian P V Nanjaraj Urs.

In the later days, three branches were added -- Kuvempungar, V V Mohalla and N R Mohalla. While V V Mohalla branch was closed two years ago, the remaining branches function still.

Morse Code

When telegraph services was launched, a particular code called Morse code was used to type (indentation) the message on a paper tape, which was later decoded and converted into words to deliver the message to the addressee. The morse code was later replaced by teleprinter machines in the early 90’s and it still remains the same. The message received will be typed and the print out consisting of ‘to’ and ‘from’ addressess along with the message in the middle space, would be neatly folded and delivered in a cover.

Telegram from South Africa
The Ministry of External When the then Rajapramukh and former ruler of Mysore Jayachamaraja Wadiyar had gone on a South Africa tour, he got the message of his mother Kempucheluvajammanni’s death in Mysore. The former ruler soon sent a telegram asking the palace officers to wait for two days till his arrival  for cremation. It was also in use during the period of rule of Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and Mummadi, claimed Nanjaraj Urs adducing at few references in the annals of history.

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