Fountain Pen lovers of Mumbai and Pune meet – where nibs are tuned, lives turned!
Take an airline pilot, an artist, a couple of lawyers, a splattering of management consultants, a teacher and a few others whose professions are as diverse as India’s unity. Put them in one of Mumbai’s hippest rendezvous joints for the creatively inclined – Doolaly’s – and the result is bound to be eclectic, electric even. But ask anyone, what could be the common thread bringing them together, and they are bound to be floored.
Hold your breath – for the answer is headier than any of the mixes that Doolaly’s is known to concoct, fountain pens! Before we move on, join me as I raise my glass to the Mumbai-Pune group of Fountain Pen Lovers, the movers and shakers behind the FPAI.
Prof Yashwant Pitkar – the creator of the hugely celebrated “travelling inkpot” – was kind enough to invite Prof K C Janardhan: the Maestro, and yours truly to join a meeting of the group, to unwind after a busy day spent at the 1st Indian Pen Show in Mumbai, which we were all attending. And God, was I happy that he did.
For one it was like being in a family get-together where you were meeting your kith and kin after a long interval as you had somehow been torn apart – perhaps by an attack by terrorists bearing ballpoint pens. The fact you didn’t really know anyone personally was an irritant, but then again, that you were ultimately “family”, exuded a kind of warmth that was strangely comforting, beguiling, exhilarating even. And such was the warmth that even the full blast from the ac’s could not lower the chill factor (no pun intended).
Then there was the common thread – the love for the fountain pen – which is a bond like no other, strong enough to even relegate Fevicol back to the ads! Sudhir Kalyanikar (yes, THE Sudhir Kalyanikar) who had spent the day tuning pens to perfection was in his element – 14k gold to be precise – as he invited us in and introduced us around. Raj Kalra, who has the rare distinction of writing with fountain pens so high up in the sky where even most of our dreams dare not reach, showed us his latest acquisition: a Visconti Homo-Sapien, with his personal crest, between regaling the group with his anecdotes. Kshitij Shetty, in his boisterous best, had all our barrels inked with beer, while Pradeep Dubbula, quietly went about his job ensuring that the spirits remained high, even as the group stuck to the letter of the law.
Tarun Durga whose art is as aesthetically appealing as his boundless energies, was there with Prasad Venkatraman, who is literally writing his way to nirvana and is one of calligraphy’s most celebrated sons. Collectors, connoisseurs, lovers, aficionados of fountain pens, each a legend in his (or her own right) like Hema Koppikar, Shankar Iyer, Mihir Givilkar, Ameya Godbole, Manish Punjabi, Saptarshi (Rishi) Ghosh – Jedi warriors all – were also there scripting the revival of the return of the fountain pen. May the force be with them!
What added the proverbial icing on the cake was however, the presence of legends like Vaibhav Mehandiratta – architect and rock star of pen blogging, along with Jaspreet Singh Gill – Nibmeister in the making (currently the only one in India, if I am not wrong) from Delhi.
What was however, most remarkable about the evening was the level of love, affection and knowledge about fountain pens that the group shared. The passion was on your face, bereft of innuendos, and contagious to boot. Another unique characteristic of the group was the very refreshing (?) absence of anyone who was even remotely associated with the trade, which ensured that the discussions centred around the commonly shared passion for the pen, as opposed to veering towards the inevitable sales pitches that such people are wont to lapse into at the slightest opportunity. That all were professionals, highly regarded in their respective domains of excellence, I guess, was another reason why it was such a pleasure being in the meet – when an architect, a lawyer, a teacher, a calligrapher and a management consultant look at a pen, any pen, their individual views are bound to be loaded with the unique qualities that define their professions, in the process highlighting nuances that are normally lost on us, ordinary lovers of the fountain pens.
These were no ordinary collectors – people with monies to spare, who buy pens for the sake of parking their loose change and flaunt them as though they were trophy wives to shift the attention from their pen-ile dysfunctions (pun, pun – no indication to anyone real or imaginary). These were real lovers of the fountain pens, actual end users, who were united by a passion and were genuinely working to further the cause.
I have been to pen meets in the past. In my city as well as in others – including some abroad, but have I, ever been to one that was this vibrant? Nah! The Mumbai-Pune group rocks. May your tribe increase, siblings of the ink!
NOTE: If you are a genuine lover of all things writing (and written), you can join the newly launched Fountain Pen Association of India (FPAI) where the core comprises of many of the tigers who were there in the meet. For more information visit: www.fpai.co.in