Tuesday, May 30, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 9, 1444 H
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History of nation in cards


Collecting the things that one uses everyday, be it those that have emotional values or experiences that last a lifetime, a man is chasing the bits and pieces of the days that he lived on the planet earth. Madhusoodanan Nair, an expat in the wilayat of Sur is on a mission for nearly four decades of collecting the memories associated with his life in the Sultanate of Oman and documenting them.

He possesses nearly 50,000 telephone cards that portrayed important events that the country witnessed during the past few decades.

These cards comprise different decades of the Sultanate of Oman, various five-year plans, major crops, agriculture, dressing styles, people of various wilayats, major events that took place such as the Gulf Cup tourney, First Asian beachball and the like. Important diplomatic visits, milestones in bilateral history with various nations, sources of GDP and the like. These cards bore the images of various celebrations, landscape of Oman’s governorates, life in the wilayats, and many more.

“I started collecting telephone cards as a passion from the day I arrived here some 37 years ago’’, said Madhusoodanan.

Madhusoodanan started travelling as soon as he completed his graduation and went as far as the Indian capital city of New Delhi from kerala and other states before beginning his life in the middle east. Out of his 43 years in the gulf, he spent 37 years in Oman.

The hobby started when he was very small. The little Madhu satisfied his urge to collect things that were of interest in the form of match boxes which had beautiful pictures of animals and birds and made a vast collection in no time which was appreciated by his friends and teachers.

“Next I collected glass pebbles which kids used to play with and was so fascinated with them. As buying newer ones involved shelling out a few paisas, my passion was confined to broken ones and later, I managed to buy newer glass pebbles’’, Madhu adds.

As he started high schooling in 1969, his passion slowly shifted to stamps and coin collection just as many of his age then used to do. Currencies and coins of various countries found their place in his albums.

To achieve this, he was lucky to have his dad working in Malaysia as he kept sending new stamps and coins through his friends and sometimes, by post. Madhu got a dutch pen-friend called Hen Coning who helped him collect different nations’ stamps, cards, etc and they started exchanging stamps and telephone cards.

He used to collect visiting cards of those whom he met during the years he spent in north India. But this he had to let go as storing and carrying it to places he shifted proved to be logistically difficult.

He pursued the passion when he arrived in Oman in early 80s. He found the supplements published from the country were so colourful and began collecting them. Besides the supplements carried by Oman Daily Observer, other regional papers which published special stories and pictures on Oman national day and Renaissance Day have been documented after reading.

Madhusoodanan’s focus shifted to telephone cards in the 90s that were decorated with beautiful images.

He was excited when Observer published an article on Latif al Balushi, a numismatist from Muttrah who then had over 50,000 telephone cards and stamps. Madhu got in touch with Latif and bought some of them besides gaining information on sources of getting these cards and together they exchanged many cards and ideas.

In 2002, when his family joined him in Sur, Madhusoodanan and his children would hunt for these cards near shops and market places. When he and family sorted and stacked all the cards, they were surprised to see nearly 50,000 cards in the collection.

“That was a great inspiration and motivation. we continued our passion of collecting them all the more.”

Any celebrity who would visit Sur used to receive an album of cards as a gift as many of the cards were contributed by his friends and relatives.

“I’m willing to give away the cards collection to anyone who is as passionate as I’m so that this vast history of the nation in cards wouldn’t go to waste’’, Madhusoodanan, who has already retired from work, said.

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