17 January 2021

My mom, a “Pilot” pen and a guy somewhere in China

This pen has a long history with my mom. It was the source of the fountain of all my fascination towards fountain pens. Way back when, mom had taken up a job as a teacher to supplement our family income. Back then, when you joined as a teacher, you went thru something akin to a probationary period – you were called a “casual” teacher. After that you became a “permanent” teacher.

It was 1972. I was six years old. One fine day, I came back from my kinder garten school (Carmel Convent School – which was a girls’ school but that is a story for another day) and noticed some general elevation of mood in the house. Dad and mom were extra happy and mom was cooking special food in the oven. (When I say oven, I mean an old style, coal burning, mobile oven).

I did not know what “casual” or “permanent” meant. But I was plenty happy with the special fritters being made at home. Perhaps wondering when would mom become “permanent” again!

But the crowning glory was the next day. It was a Saturday. I remember because I did not have school but mom did. (She had half day school on Saturdays). She used to carry a small black handbag with her. Not sure why we called it “vanity bag” then.

In any case, she came back home and showed dad something from her “vanity” bag. It was a shining pen. Jet black lacquer body with golden cap. (I was silly enough to jump to the conclusion that it was made of gold). Apparently, mom’s colleagues had gifted her with that pen upon becoming “permanent” to welcome her to their fold.

That was a very special pen for her. She used to guard it like a hawk. Initially, she even kept it in the locker of our almirah (safe). Much later in life, I had seen her bring it out for regular day to day use.

In any case, what fascinated me about that pen was the nib. It is called a hooded nib. Of course, I did not know all of this at that time – but this is something Parker had come up with to slow down the evaporation thru the breathing hole and the slit of the nib. To me, at that time, it looked like no other fountain pen nib I had seen and I was completely taken in by that.

Dad declared that it was a Pilot pen and very expensive. (I suspect that is why it sat in the locker for so long). I am not entirely sure why this pen was called a Pilot pen those days in India. If you are familiar with fountain pens, you will recognize it as a Parker 51.

Much later in life, I had tried to get a pen like mom had. Three years back (three years and one week today), I had found myself in a small fountain pen shop in Kolkata (near Maidan Metro) station and managed to get myself one. It had a classic 1946 nib!!

After my mom’s death, I amped up the search for a pen just like hers. (the one from Kolkata was of different color). After some extensive search up and down the world, located a guy in China who had some vintage Parker pens. A few weeks of patient wait later, it is here!!! Identical copy of what my mom had!!!

My mom’s favorite ink color was blue (she used Sulekha brand). I think I will stick to that color for this pen.

Ah! Those indelible marks moms leave upon you!!! You might even call them “permanent” !!!

10 January 2021

From the bartender’s corner – Guayaba Martini

This is not the real name. If you have a better name, let me know. I had some Guava juice with me. Guava was one of the common fruits we grew up with in India. In fact we had a couple of guava trees in our own yard.

The fruit itself, as I understand is not native to India. It was brought to India by the Portuguese, who themselves got it from southern Mexico. The origin, as I understand, is in southern Mexico/central America.

Anyways, I asked Sharmila what would go well with Guava juice. Ginger and jalapeno, she said.

So, here is how the drink was made…

Put a small amount of ginger paste or muddle a little piece of ginger with a couple of small slices of jalapeno in a glass . Ginger is very strong – so be easy on the amount. Pour ice, a little rock salt, 3-4 ounces of guava juice and 2 ounces of vodka. I used UV’s Sriracha vodka to get the extra pungency. Shake it and pour in a cocktail glass.

10 January 2021

It was a cold ride

I had not had a bike ride for a week. Usually, if it is 55 degrees (12 Centigrade), I will go out. But being off road for so many days, I finally gave in to the fact that it had not rained, the sun was out intermittently and the temperatures were at least 43 degrees (6 Centigrade).

45 mile round trip and I had get into the hot tub immediately to get the core temperature up…

9 January 2021

Have not done this with her in a long time

Nikita showed up in my music room while I was listening to some saxophone wanting to play chess. I have not played chess in a long time. But I was impressed with her moves. I thought I was in a strong position. She weakened me considerably before I was able to close her out. My guess is about another three games and the tables will get turned…