7 November 2020

What goes best with a cup of cappuccino?

Sometimes it is sitting down to write a letter with a fountain pen!! There is something about the way a fountain pen’s nib glides over paper that just cannot be replicated by a ballpoint pen or a pencil. There is enough friction to slow you down but not too much to make it jerky irritating. Sometimes though, the flow of ink can be a problem. This is mainly due to the paper quality (and sometimes the brand of ink). There are very few brands of paper I have found in the US that have the right texture to neither bleed nor blot. If you know of any that you have been happy with, do let me know.

Meanwhile, if you are stuck at home with Covid, have you thought of giving going retro a shot? Like paper, pen and ink writing. The good old way? No auto-correct though. You have to scratch it over!!

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18 September 2020

The blot thickens…

This started in 1983. August of 1983 to be precise. My first letter that I wrote to my best friend – Avijit Bose. I had moved to a residential school for my last two years of High School and he had stayed back in our home town of Durgapur.

Now we are a bit further apart. He is in the Southern Hemisphere, I am in the Northern. He is in the Eastern Hemisphere, I am in the Western. He is in Perth, Australia. I am in Atlanta, USA.

If you notice the picture very carefully and zoom in, you will notice that both of us are writing with fountain pens. In fact, that is how the whole thing got a restart. Early July, Avijit had posted in Facebook about the three new fountain pens he had bought. I had suggested that it might be a good reason to get back to our practice from thirty seven years back.

So, towards the end of July, I wrote a hand written letter (you see the picture) to Avijit. Admittedly, thirty seven years back, I did not have a glass of martini next to me. That letter took three weeks to reach him in Australia. Fortunately, his response took only two weeks to reach me. Those days, he did not have an iPhone to take a selfie that would make him look like a southpaw either 🙂

So, why this rigmarole of communicating in a way that takes multiple weeks to reach (and daily checking on Whatsapp if it has reached 🙂 )?

Because tradition is not the worship of ashes… it is the preservation of fire!

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14 September 2020

One of my favorite hobbies from the past…

Writing letters to all and sundry with fountain pens. Before the advent of emails and such, this was the way I kept up with all my friends and family. And even strangers!! In fact, in one instance, I met one of those pen-pals after 30 years of starting our pen-friendship!

For those who complain today that I write too many emails… well, even in those days, I would sometimes write a dozen letters a day!!

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22 July 2020

The joys of handwritten letters

There is one thing many of my friends from high school and college might remember me for – and that was my propensity to write letters. It was fairly common for me to write nearly thirty to forty letters in a week. Almost all my childhood friends used to have to deal with this uncalled for level of communication – in fairly bad handwriting too – from me.

Later in life, inspired by an article in the front page of USA Today on Dec 26, 2005, I started writing Thank You letters to anybody who would invite me over for dinner. This is no small thank you card we are talking about. This is full page letter written definitely in fountain pen – sometimes even with calligraphic nibs – and sent by the post office in a snail mail monogrammed enveloped.

With the passage of time I realized that as much as I loved interactions in a small group, I absolutely disliked large gatherings. Which meant I stopped going to parties. And therefore my letter writing took a hit.

Recently, my best friend from childhood days – Avijit Bose – posted a picture of a few fountain pens he has collected. That gave me an idea – yes, one more of those stupid ideas I get from time to time – why not start writing letters to my friends – like I used to do in my high school and college days?

If I take time to come up with stupid ideas, I certainly do not waste time in acting them out.

So, there you see me – out in the backyard, by the pool, under the pool umbrella (it was raining) by the light of my iPhone – writing a heart felt letter to my best friend from yesteryears – and undoubtedly the recipient of maximum letters from me outside of my parents. Sharmila, who came by, did not know what to make of the situation. So, she took a picture to remind me later of my quirkiness.

That particular letter started its voyage to Perth, Australia yesterday. Now I am waiting to see when he receives it. Of course, I have kept pictures of the letter – so I can email it to him if it never makes it to the other end of the world 🙂 Technology may not be my best friend, but it is certainly a back up 🙂 🙂

What I felt particularly satisfied with is that I managed to write two whole pages entirely in Bengali. Beyond the salutation, did not use a single English word.

I could not find a good translation for “Good Day, mate”, though 🙂

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28 August 2018

Orange is the new black!!

Pulled out this pen from the collection. I had bought this from a store in Washington DC about ten years back. I remember that I was taken in by the orange and black color of the body. Moreover, I liked the silver rings which gave it a sturdier look I thought.

This was one more of the pens that I had to take to the pen show in Atlanta and get the nib changed to fine tip. (it came with a medium).

I have not used this for almost a year. I am going to bring it out in October to mark the Halloween colors!

4 June 2018

There was one last box left to be checked in Mongolia…

We had all the normal goals that you would set for yourself if you were to go to Mongolia – you know the gers, the nomads, the camels, the sand dunes and all that. We did all that and more.

We had another goal for ourselves. Not something you would normally think of. But then again, we are talking about Roger and myself. If it is not quirky, it is not us.

We had a goal of buying a fountain pen from Mongolia!! Both Roger and I write with fountain pens and share a common love for collecting fountain pens.

Calligraphy was originally invented in China and the Mongols had their own variation in their scripts (I am talking about 2000 years back). In fact, we got all our family members’ names written in the old Mongol style in wall hangings that we are bringing back home.

While in USA, after a lot of research, we had found out one shop that claimed to carry fountain pens in Ulanbaatar. You can guess the rest…

We are proud owners of two identical fountain pens from Mongolia!!

Disclaimer: While the pens were bought from Mongolia to add to our libraries, they are not actually made in Mongolia. Nobody makes fountain pens in Mongolia. These are of Turkish origin. So, our bragging rights is “we got them from Mongolia” 🙂

6 April 2018

Those indelible ink marks – one more of my favorites

This is one of the heaviest pens I have. Made from stone, I had collected this from a professional pen maker who hailed from New York at a pen show around 2008, I believe. I have always used this pen with red ink. Over the years, the nib has become a little broader and I need to replace it with a fine tip. Still, writes like a charm…

19 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – another new one from China

This is a heavy set pen. Like many fountain pen lovers, I like the pens to be heavy set. The nibs one the other hand needs to be fine for me. One thing I am realizing is that the Chinese medium nibs are not as broad as in America or Europe. But they are not as fine as in Japan either. (Clearly a medium in Japan is a fine in Europe or US).

Thanks to Raji and Karthik for letting me borrow one of their plates when we went for dinner at their place a few days back. I thought it would make for a good composition for a picture of the pen.