Collections of a lifetime

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By ABHIJEET MUKHERJEE
  • Published 9.01.06
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Sanjay Kumar sits proud before his collection. A picture by Hardeep Singh

Like any other boy, he developed a passion for stamps in school, but the difference is that he did not drop his interest, or outgrew the passion. With time, he pursued and learnt more about it .

Meet Sanjay Kumar, chief consultant of the department of neurology in Apollo Hospital, Ranchi. Kumar joined Apollo four years back after completing his fellowship from Japan?s Fujita Health University in micro-neurology.

His passion for stamps graduated from just random collecting, to exchanging, and then to presenting them to an audience with time. Earlier, Kumar used to treat his hobby as merely ?collecting? and not displaying, but now he sees it differently. He calls it by its much familiar and a more respectful name ? philately.

?Stamp collection is different from philately as the latter is not just about collection but is also related to form, meaning and dimension. Haphazard collection of stamps is not philately,? Kumar says, adding: ?I first learnt of the art through friends. Then the process of extracting and the process of preservation came to my mind. Later, I brought a little innovation to the process by presenting the stamps with catchy slogans,? he added.

In school, like other boys, Kumar was not a sports freak. He was more into literature and quizzing, which added to the young man?s interest in philately. Quizzing required information, and philately was one of the best mediums from where he gathered this information.

It all started with collecting stamps on different personalities followed by sports and Olympic-theme based stamps. Later his passion compelled him to even enter the world of animals.

?Initially my interest in biology attracted me to collect stamps on birds and butterflies. Then the idea of collecting stamps based on a series, came to my mind. The first series that I collected was on Olympics. It was then that I learnt that philately is all about series, which add meaning to the collection,? he said.

The first competition that Kumar participated was in Patna University where a philately exhibition was organised by the department of philately.

It was a serious event as the university had a separate department devoted to the art. It was managed by serious stamp enthusiasts. His first win came in the first year of MBBS. The rest, is history, as he won one competition after the other for many years in a row.

?A judge once clarified to the audiences that I win because I make additions to my collection every year, which is vital in this art,? recalled the neurologist.

One of the interesting moments in Kumar?s journey has been when he took up medicine as a series topic for five long years.

It ranged from medicine, its aspects, social impact and different medical practices like allopathy, homeopathy and ayurveda.

Kumar had meticulously selected stamps and had made slogans for each to give it a different feel and look. Since then he has been associated with medicine and now plans to make a collection, which would highlight stamps related to neurology.

Meanwhile, Kumar has another reason to be happy about. His daughter Shreya is also interested in her father?s passion. But, he wants his daughter to learn the nuances the hard way.

?I don?t want to spoon-feed Shreya by giving her a stamp every week to generate curiosity in her. It has to be entirely her effort to develop her interest in her passion. She will have to find her own way. I will not hand her my collection and she will have to strive on her own for it,? said a confident father.

Kumar insists that he does not collect the ?commemorative? stamps nor buys them from any shop as he believes that philately should not come easy. Over the years he has collected stamps of various series and today is a proud owner of more than 5,000 stamps. But due to time constraints and a busy work schedule, he is often not able to give time to his art and is finds it difficult to keep the stamps intact.