The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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If it’s mail to the hills, trust Santa to deliver

Darjeeling, Dec. 17: Santa Claus will play postman on the hills to spread Christmas cheer.

The Darjeeling head post office will deliver season’s greeting cards and cakes through a Santa Claus between December 22 and 25 in a bid to jack up business during the festival season.

So what if this Santa Claus does not climb down chimneys and rides an engine-driven vehicle instead of a reindeer sleigh. He has what all children love about him the most — the “Ho-Ho-Ho Merry Christmas”— and the flowing snow-white beard.

“Santa will deliver the cards in his inimitable style between 6 pm and midnight on all the four days. He will, however, only deliver speedpost mails,” said John Samuel, post master-general, north Bengal and Sikkim, and the brain behind the idea.

“This is a new idea. We expect even parents to send cards to their children. They will reach their destinations on the same day,” he added.

Those who are not of the “card-giving” type need not feel left out.

“Christmas is synonymous with cakes. We plan to bring out a list of cakes from the leading confectioneries in Darjeeling. Anyone who wants to send his or her loved one a cake can place an order, with an additional payment of Rs 50, and we will have it delivered by Santa,” Samuel said. The cost of delivering cards will be Rs 20.

“The perception that the postal department merely delivers letters must be changed. We need to reach out,” the postmaster general said.

The scheme is being launched in Darjeeling because it has a healthy Christian population. “If it proves to be a success, we will launch it in other areas,” he said. This would be an annual affair “to celebrate during festivals with our customers”.

The post office, too, will get a facelift. A fresh coat of paint will be applied on all letterboxes in the town. Employees have been working overtime to meet the Christmas eve deadline set by the postmaster general.

In another step to improve customer care, the 20-odd staff of the head post office attended a workshop last weekend. Kurseong also entered the superfast delivery track with the launch of the speed post facilities on Saturday.

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