Joining Tom Jackson to discuss the postcards from their pasts are postcard collector and author of Paper Jewels: Postcards From The Raj, OMAR KHAN and anthropologist at SOAS, STEPHEN HUGHES. In this episode we explore the early days of Indian postcards, the connection between postcards and early cinema, postcards as personal legacy and why the postman was sometimes obliged to read the postcards he delivers. Wish you were here?

A promotional postcard from the SOAS exhibition: FROM MADRAS TO BANGALORE – picture postcards as urban history of colonial India.

View From London Bridge, 1953, “Dears, To-morrow we go to Eastbourne for one week. Here in London we sleep, eat, walk & rest. Bibi’s weight: In Underground station: 8.7 stonesat Kew Gardens: 9.3 stonesat chemist: 8.11 stones”

The River Dart at Totnes, Devon, 1987, “Having a pleasant time here listening to music. The Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke was due to appear this week but has failed to materialise – KGB? British Rail? Best wishes to you all..

Dr Stephen Hughes’ grandfather pictured on a postcard in the Philippines. 

These postcard images of his grandfather give Stephen Hughes a valuable link to his family’s past

Omar Khan’s postcard showing a ‘mali’ or gardener, on a postcard by M. V. Dhurandhar.

Bath, 1983: “I have been here for a few days and tried to ring. At first I thought your phone was busy a lot then decided to check. No listing under this address and then – phone is faulty. Well, whatever, I have to leave and sorry to miss you.

Stephen’s card of a street in Madras. This card provided a missing link in his research into early cinemas in India. The building on the left was a temporary venue for travelling cinema shows.

An example of the disjunction between the posed and the unposed. The central image is carefully stage-managed, but the people at the sides of the frame are simply having fun watching the photographer.

Omar’s card of The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. This card was published by Tuck’s, one of the most successful British postcard producers of the early twentieth century.

A horse, 1970, “The hotel is very nice and meals not very nice.”

An Austrian scene on a musical postcard.