newsdog Facebook

Meet Coonoor’s postman who trekked 15km every day to deliver letters

cn traveler 2020-08-18 17:29:00
D Sivan trekked through 15km of forests to reach letters every day. Photo: Thabalkaran

He may not be saving lives, but he is no less of a superhero. He has scaled steep, hilly terrains, crossed pitch-black tunnels, railways tracks and braved wild bears and gaurs—all to deliver letters. D Sivan, a postman in Coonoor, has been walking 15km every single day for over a decade to reach posts to some of the most remote villages in the southern region of Tamil Nadu. 

Sivan joined the Indian Postal Services in 1985. He worked as a stamp collector in Wellington, a town in the Nilgiri district, for 25 years. He bid his desk job goodbye after he received a promotion and transferred to Hillgrove post office, where he served for 10 years. After 35 years of service, the 66-year-old postman retired in March. 

A beautiful film released on YouTube last month pays tribute to his journey and bravery. Thabalkaran, which translates to postman in Tamil, is a six-minute documentary that follows Sivan through his daily path along the Nilgiris bathed in mist, ribboned with gushing streams. The paths vary, some beautiful, some treacherous, but he keeps going with his precious satchel inked with “D Sivan, the postman” across his shoulder. “In spite of the progress man has made in technology, postal services have remained throughout these years,” he says in the film. 

D Sivan has braved many animals along the way. Photo: Thabalkaran

The short documentary has been shot by Bengaluru-based directors Arjun Davis, 28, Anand Rama Krishnan, 28, and Arjun Krishna, 26. The three friends were working on another project when they chanced upon Sivan at Coonoor’s Hillgrove Station. Fascinated with his journey, they decided to return and tell his story. 

From the sights to the sounds, the documentary brings the hill station in Tamil Nadu to life. With help from a friend Balamurugan Kumar, they captured some stunning drone shots. The chirping of birds, rustling of leaves and gurgling of streams were brought to life by Siddharth Sadasiv, a sound engineer. He used binaural mixing—a method of recording that uses two microphones to create 3-D stereo sound sensation—to make you feel like you were right there. 

For D Sivan, it was never just a letter; it was much more than that. Photo: Thabalkaran

One of the team’s biggest challenges while documenting over a period of five days was keeping up with D Sivan. “He walked very fast,” Krishna laughs. The 66-year-old’s wizened face is fringed with grey hair and covered with a grey beard. And while he has the body of an ageing man, he briskly walks through the forest lands like a young boy. 

Sivan delivered letters to places where companies such as  BlueDart can’t reach. He started his day at 8.30am and collected the letters and parcels from Coonoor’s RS Post Office, which is about 10km from Hillgrove. He walked 6km of forest land and tea plantations, then for 40 minutes along the Nilgiri’s mountain railway train track, and across two kilometers of dark tunnels before he reached Vadugan Thottam to deliver the letter. He returned only at 6.30pm. It wasn’t just tracks and tunnels that he braved. “Animals keep loitering around the forest. I am not worried about that. They do their routines. I do mine. This land belongs to them and we are the one’s trespassing,” says Sivan. During a trek, he once encountered a herd of elephants. A mother elephant charged at him, when Sivan hid behind a tree. He was saved when a truck driver spotted him and honked at the elephant. The animals recognise him now, though. They’ve reached a point where they nod at each other, says Krishna. 

He has repeated this routine every single day for a decade. On many days, he had just one letter in hand. However, he still made the arduous trek to deliver it. “He believed posts had to reach in time. It could be a money order or a job application,” says Krishna. 

For Sivan, it was never just a letter, it was much more than that. “A post, a letter, it can come with a good message or a bad one. Either way, these messages are delivered to them by people like us.”

SUBSCRIBE TO YouTube XYou have read of 10 stories this month SIGN UP Not now LOGIN