9 August 2022

Meeting my penpal

I thought I knew a thing or two about fountain pens and nibs and all that. But at the end of the evening, I realized how little I knew about what makes those pens and nibs come to life. All because I got to have dinner with a pen pal of mine from the other end of the world.

Let’s back up a little. About twenty years back, I had a colleague at work – Madhuri. She was fifteen years younger than me and we worked in two different ends of the world – Dallas and Bangalore – but of course, we knew each other since we were in the same team.

It was much later – and by that time, she had moved to Singapore with her husband Rupesh – that we realized we shared a common fascination for writing with fountain pens. It was a post on Facebook that she had put up that had triggered my attention.

And that started a long series of writing letters to each other – between Atlanta and Singapore. The topics invariably were about life, travel, parents in India, old friends and so on.

In one of those letters earlier this year, she let me know that they were moving from Singapore to San Francisco. Even after they moved, the letter writing continued. In fact, just last week, something happened when I was setting up my small workspace in the new house. I was carefully putting her last few letters in my letter organizer when Nikita happened to stroll by. I showed her some of the letters and she justifiably marveled at the beautiful handwriting.

Well, guess what? I met up with Madhuri and Rupesh for dinner this evening. The board meeting scheduled in San Francisco offered this opportunity.

I never quite told you what makes fountain pens come to life, did I? Well, that is where Madhuri’s expertise comes in. Paper and ink. I am always frustrated by the quality of paper in the USA. Got some great tips on how to choose paper and some good brands from Japan from her.

You all think I am nuts that I have over 100 fountain pens? Get this – she has 65 different colors of ink!! I have only 8) I learnt a lot about the chemistry and quality of inks from her. I even picked up some new terms like “sheening” and “pooling”. She had brought a few different varieties of paper to demonstrate her points to me.

Incredible evening for me!

Posted August 9, 2022 by Rajib Roy in category "Intersection Points


  1. Pingback: Sunday evening letter writing – Rajib Roy

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