My passion An ode to the fountain pen

By the time this monologue is printed, my Arial font would have been converted to a Times new roman or sans serif font like Helvetica or others (the irony of “typing” an article about inks and fountain pens is not lost sight of. me).

Essentially, therefore, any printed medium is making “false copies” of people’s writings and their words, converting them into a dull, drab, homogenized font that essentially removes the layers of character reflected in a person’s handwriting.

But, today, I’m going to let go of my grouses over the typed word and focus on the larger well and the (non) real world of pens and inks and papers. There are few things in this world that can match the tactile sensation of a truly “wet” fountain pen nib stripe negotiating and carving and carving a winding path on a sheet of off-white wove paper. or thirsty ivory.

Few can match the tactile sensation of a truly “wet” fountain pen nib stripe carving a meandering path across a sheet of thirsty off-white or ivory wove paper.

As you watch the little streams of brilliant ink dry on the blank flat surface of the partly cellulose and partly lignin paper, putting your thoughts on paper is truly effortless.

Fountain pens have larger dimensions than standard ball, roller ball or gel pens. They give more substance and individuality to the written word than any factory made 0.5mm ballpoint nib. I love using stub nibs and medium nibs which can add panache to your writing which can otherwise be a dull exercise. A warning to the uninitiated – the experience can get quite addicting – whether it’s fine, medium, large, spiked feathers, or anything in between.

Using a fountain pen to fill in the pages of a leather-bound journal after a hectic day’s work is like stumbling upon an oasis in the desert.

Your inks take you on a journey in which there are no reservations, no itineraries and no fixed travel plans, so you can forge your own path. Pick a fountain pen today, whether it’s a Lamy, Twisbee or Mont Blanc, pair it with a Royal Blue or Sepia and Cyprus Carob Gold Sulekha or a Pilot Iroshizuku Yama -budo.

Fountain pens can be demanding and inconsistent like an icy Persian cat; they have little respect for their owners, they can run ink on your new tattersall plaid shirt or your beloved houndstooth tweed jacket. Like infant formula-fed babies, they often “burp” while writing, which can spoil official documents and check books. They can smear and leave small puddles of ink accumulated at any random part of a sentence. They often leave a ghost effect on the back of the paper, much like a leaky baby diaper!

They require a lot of maintenance, must be supplied with ink regularly, must be washed, cleaned and handled with care. And on a good day, they’ll love you back like a cheerful beagle wagging its tail.

Men being men, they are always up for a little temptation, but there will always be the more pragmatic of us who prefer predictable and less difficult choices. Our world offers many standardized options for the careful and the discerning. Some good examples are A4 paper, USB and USB Type C connectors, Swiss chronographs, powder masalas which are more precise, predictable and precise.

For adventurers and lovers of novelty, there is always the fountain pen. A humble and unassuming roadside dhaba makes delicious food largely because they depend on khara masalas or whole spices. The mortar and pestle are used to crush garlic cloves, tear coriander fibers, and break crumbs from turmeric rhizomes into a heady paste. Who can forget the aromatic layers of a sizzling dal tadka from one of those roadside vendors?

You can’t expect a prepackaged spice blend to bring those spicy puffs. The question is, what is your favorite thing in life? It depends on your philosophy.

Your inks take you on a journey in which there are no reservations, no itineraries and no fixed travel plans, so you can forge your own path. Pick a fountain pen today, whether it’s a Lamy, Twisbee or Mont Blanc, pair it with a Royal Blue or Sepia and Cyprus Carob Gold Sulekha or a Pilot Iroshizuku Yama -budo. You will find that there are many quirky and maverick fountain pen enthusiasts like you; an eccentric and indescribable society of fountain pen devotees will find you soon enough.

As you descend the rabbit hole, you will find many characters along the way. Nib meisters who grind oblique pens on the left foot or any other custom grind like architects’ nibs, stationery “peddlers” who keep supplying you with pen, paper or ink. Then there are the calligraphy enthusiasts who keep finding new ways to write a simple alphabet. Businessmen, media professionals, accountants, lawyers, doctors, engineers united by a common denominator: the love of fountain pens.

In 2021, things naturally moved towards WhatsApp and Telegram. Soon you will find words like railroad, drying time, and grams per square meter in your vocabulary. Some inks can be purchased from Amazon, eBay, or local pen shops in the many nondescript lanes of North Calcutta. There are entire websites dedicated to providing stationery such as gouletpen.com.

A Conklin fountain pen from www.gouletpen.com.

A Conklin fountain pen from www.gouletpen.com.

There is a whole ecosystem of quality papers such as Clairefontaine, Rhodia or Japanese fine papers. Some inks are so luscious and guilty that they deserve their own Instagram pages. Take for example the emerald of Chivor which has an iridescent palette of teal, gold, orange and red. Some inks are muted and understated while others are exuberant, ostentatious and flamboyant. Rushdie, Marquez, and Murakami are widely regarded as the masters of magical realism. Take a sheet of their book, make your ordinary writing tasks a little magical. Start today by writing your shopping lists or your to-do lists with a fountain pen, chances are you won’t regret it!

Good writing.

Rahul jain is a doctor with varied interests. An avid hobbyist and collector, he has a keen eye for things like antique furniture, vintage cufflinks, Indian heritage, original collectibles, and fountain pens.


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