Shikhar – literally the summit of Indian penmanship, unboxed
I had once asked Yusuf Mansoor, veteran pen collector, lover and restorer, which “one” India made fountain pen he would recommend that I must possess, if only to prove my love for fountain pens to myself? Without even batting an eyelid he had said, “Lotus Shikhar”.
Aditya Bhansali, the spirit behind penworld.com and a connoisseur of fine writing instruments was equally enamoured, listing the Shikhar as one of his personal favourites. Other experts and fountain pen lovers too, have been unabashed in their appreciation, all identifying Arun Singhi’s creation – the Shikhar from Lotus Pens, as one of the top three contemporary fountain pens turned in India. As a matter of fact, it is now an acknowledged fact that the Shikhar is one of the few Indian pens that is well and truly comparable with pens turned out globally as is evident from its huge international fan following – it sells more overseas than any of its contemporaries!
What makes the Shikhar so special? The Cellulose Acetate that it is made of, is imported from Italy. The nib and feed unit and the converters too are imported, that too from the best that there is – Jowo and Schmidt from Germany, who straddle their respective niches and need no introduction to the aficionados. Point is, the materials that go into the making of each Shikar, like the name are literally the best in class that money can buy. But that is not what makes the Shikhar the summit scaling achiever that it is.
The Shikhar, like every other writing instrument made by Lotus Pens, is the successful culmination of a long process, in which the art of pen turning has been perfected by true grit and sheer hard work. Inputs have been taken – and Arun Singhi is forthcoming in acknowledging the contribution of all those who have magnanimously led him to the light – little quirks perfected, improvements introduced, experiments conducted over many, often frustrating, attempts to arrive at the level of perfection that has been achieved.
The balance is just perfect, the pen resting not as an appendage but moulding itself as an extension of the grip so that even long hours of writing does not fatigue the fingers. The grip too is comfortable and the flow of ink like a well-orchestrated symphony. The F nib that my Shikhar came equipped with is a classic German: understated, built for life and an ode to perfection in functionality. The Shikhar does not merely write, it creates statements that define fine writing.
But that too does not make the Shikhar worthy of the kind of accolades it has consistently got from authorities and enthusiasts alike. Well, first among equals perhaps, but not quite champagne grade.
All Lotus pens, including the Shikhar are hand turned – turned in the lathe machines manually and then finished physically, often painstakingly. The sheer brilliance of the end product – a happy marriage of form and function – resplendent in all their striking exuberance is what makes them stand, head and shoulders above the competition. And this is precisely where the Shikhar emerges the undisputed winner – it is a labour of love, the passion of the maker writ large all over it. The sheer affection with which each pen is crafted is something that cannot be matched by even the biggest brand names with their sensitised assembly line productions. The Shikhar, is not merely a fountain pen on which Lotus has staked its reputation – it is also backed by the dedicated love of Arun Singhi, the blood, sweat and tears of a fountain pen enthusiast who has given up all to follow his passion.
The box in which my Shikhar was delivered was pretty imposing in its look, but what was inside – the bright hue of the pen, that swept me off my feet. I do not recall seeing anything that is as bright and just as shiny in its sheen, ever. And what has turned this particular Shikhar into of my most treasured possession is the way snake stopper entwines around the cap – as if, ready to hand the apple over to me as I prepare to write.
Thank you, Lotus.
Dimensions of Lotus Shikhar
Total length: 154 mm
Uncapped length: 130mm
Max. Dia barrel: 15.5mm
Max Dia cap: 17.5 mm
Dia of grip: 13.5mm
Material: Cellulose acetate
Filling: cartridge converter type
Making time: 9-10hrs
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