Ananya Bhattacharjee is a stamp collector mostly focused on thematical collecting and stamps of India. She is also an author of a blog called The curious corner, where she shares her philatelic experience as well as updates about her life and journey to share knowledge.
APS interviewed Ananya to learn more about her collection and philatelic journey. Read the interview below:
Q: Give a brief bio and background of how you began to collect stamps?
A: Hello, my name is Ananya Bhattacharjee. I am from Assam, India and I am pursuing my PhD in electronics from Tezpur University. My stamp collecting journey began 15 years ago when I was in school and I accidentally came across a stamp of a famous temple in India pasted on an incoming letter to my home and then there was no looking back. Slowly, I started getting stamps from my close relatives when they used to keep stamps from the incoming letters to their home. Gradually my involvement in the hobby grew with enormous love and support from my family, who used to collect stamps to gift me on different occasions. After some years, my maternal grandmother gifted me my mom’s stamp album. It was one of the biggest surprises for me when I realised I found some inheritance from my mother. The collection was on and off across the years until the pandemic hit our lives. I was collecting stamps of India from the local post office, and was not in a good network of philatelists across the nation. When the pandemic started and we were all locked up in our homes, I found out that there is a separate world of stamp collectors who connected digitally, although they also connected physically through stamp exchanges and postcrossing. In these past two years I have grown up as a more dedicated philatelist.
Q: Who inspired you to collect stamps?
A: I grew up in a family where everyone is always curious, and I am a big fan of reading about maps of the world. My mom always inspired me to learn about other countries and different parts of the world through encyclopedias and atlases, and later I witnessed this small piece of paper with a huge amount of knowledge - “stamps”. Another grandfather of mine who was a senior professor at a university in India used to keep stamps for me from the foreign letters he used to receive from his students abroad and his international research community. His inspiration to keep stamps on my behalf was an inspiration for me to start collecting. Last but not the least, my mom’s old stamp collecting album made me realize how stamps can help you travel the world while sitting at home.
Q: What stamps do you collect?
A: I initially collected stamps of India as they are in my reach as an Indian, and when I started to earn money as a professional I used to keep some salaried money aside to purchase foreign stamps from dealers. About a year ago I realized that I should start collecting stamps based on theme, so now I collect stamps about science, technology, navigation, cartography, ”stamp on stamps”, joint issues representing postal diplomacy, and the stamps of India.
Q: What are your favourite stamps that you have collected?
A: My favourite stamps are the Azad Hind stamps related to freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose which I received from a postcrossing friend from US and they are the real gems for an Indian who has known about the freedom struggle for India from the senior members of their family. Another favorite stamp is the recently released stamp from USA on the theme “Sun Science”
Q: What inspired you to create your blog?
A: I started writing blog as a way to archive my beautiful memories of my family and my hobbies, but now my writings on my hobbies, and especially philately has shifted to twitter where I try to promote philately through writing about different stamps and the information associated with them. I am sincerely humbled that I received so many great responses from my followers, and I will be continuing to write about stamps of different regions of the world so that knowledge sharing can be accessible to everyone. Also, I connected with many stamp collectors across the world through twitter alone, so the microblogging platform is a gamechanger for me as a philatelist. I must say social media can be a positive platform if one understands the positive impact it can create in your hobby.
Q: Are your philatelic interests related to your professional interests/what you are
A: I am pursuing PhD in electronics and as person who is into science, I am collecting science and technology stamps, which makes me a science history and science communication enthusiast too. I also plan to teach younger people science communication through philately. Therefore my philatelic and professional interests are indeed related to each other.
Q: Are you planning to incorporate your stamp collecting interest to other social
media platforms outside of Twitter?
A: I am interested in incorporating stamp based posts and information in my own blog. I also want to write more details about the postal history associated with my theme based stamps which I am collecting.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is new to the hobby?
A: I must say, this is a hobby which makes you see this world in a different perspective. In a pandemic stricken world where travelling can be on and off the board, you can travel the entire world through your collected stamps. You really have to be passionate about collecting in order to be able to contribute your time in this hobby.
Q: What are your plans for the future of the blog/your involvement in philately?
A: I plan to do science communication through philatelic stamps on science, which can be aligned to my educational background. I also want to create awareness about my nation’s unsung heroes, famous personalities, facts, beautiful places of India through stamps.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I would like to finish by saying that philately can sometimes make you greedy, which will lead to draining out your own hard earned money Because of this, I would suggest to collect stamps based on theme, write postcards to your distant friends and trust me, it can help fight stress, and anxiety as well. This hobby of philately has made me learn enormous patience, which I need in my PhD research as well.