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 🙂

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.

13 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – newest in my collection

A couple of years back, I was looking for a Wingsung Hero pen. It was a pen I used to use in the early eighties. Eventually, after not being able to source it from anywhere in India (or for that matter US), I had eventually found somebody in China to send it to me. For all of two dollars and thirteen cents.

Ever since then, I have become a big fan of some of the pens from China. I am finding out about new brands and boy, they are inexpensive. Of course, shipping takes a lot of time but it is worth it. I have not made friends with some of those folks in China.

This pen had caught my eye in of those emails from them for the bright fiery colors of red and black. I finally have it in my hand as of today. But I will have to wait for some time before I can use it. It has a medium nib and now I have to find out a fine one to retrofit it.

What should I use – red ink or black ink?

6 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – one from 2013

I had run into Ryan Krusac in 2013 while perusing pens at the Atlanta Fountain Pen Show that year. I got to know about him and his family. He lives in North Georgia (I believe near Chattanooga area). His passion is making pens and he does a great job in the craftsmanship of each and every one he makes. That year, I bought this wooden body pen from him. The wood came from local forests of North Georgia mountains. Originally this had a medium tip nib. Ryan was kind enough to mail me a fine tip a few days later which I fit in and promptly started using. I go with black ink for this pen.

I was going to take the next pen picture a week later but this Sunday, while cleaning the pool after the long bike ride, I noticed the pine cone next to the tree trunk with bright sunlight falling on it. I knew the exact pen that would go great with that backdrop. Ran inside to get the pen and the camera.

And yes, much later I remembered that I completely forgotten to finish off the pool cleaning 🙂

Miriam, since you liked the previous pen picture… this picture is for you!!

1 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – Unbranded sky blue

This is one of my favorite fountain pens. I carry this with me on a daily basis. I had bought this in April, 2011 at the Atlanta Fountain Pen Show from a gentleman from the New York area who makes pens from different materials. The sky blue color and the rich veins of indigo had caught my attention. I switched the nib out for a fine tip and today use it with turquoise blue ink…

11 January 2018

“Pen, pen, pen… Pilot pen”…

I have completely lost the moral platform to lecture the girls on all the shopping of clothes they have been doing this trip. I had found out about this place in Kolkata – “Pen Hospital” a few months back. Almost a hundred years old, it is a very small shop in a very crowded Esplanade corner in Kolkata. The owner specializes in fixing fountain pens and has a stack of vintage and new fountain pens. Both used and new.

After dad and mom went off to sleep, I managed to convince my brother to hit the road again and go back to Kolkata to check out the shop. An insane amount of traffic later, I finally hit pay dirt when I found the shop. It is not often that I come across somebody who really knows a thing or two about old fountain pens and their history.

Picked up a few pens – which are incredibly inexpensive by US standards. The crowning glory was the Pilot 51. A few days back, when my father in law and I had gone to the other pen shop, he had mentioned about the Pilot 51 pen. That was an iconic pen in his days. It was somewhat of a folklore when we were growing up. In fact many Bengalis might even remember our old rhyme “Pen, Pen, Pen / Pilot Pen / Siri thekey nemey elen / Suchitra Sen”!!!

My mom used to have one of the non-classical versions of Pilot pens that her teacher colleagues had gifted her in 1972.

The Pilot 51 is an all time classic. One of the few pens with vacuum system for filling ink, it has a very unique nib too. It is a pity that these pens used to be made in USA and I cannot find them in USA any more!! The best part of the pen that I got? The nib is an original 1946 vintage!!!