HAPPY DIWALI and a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR. May the year ahead bring you joy and bliss.
In today’s day and age when one has to really put down all work and concentrate hard in order to try and recall when was the last time you actually picked up a pen to put something down on paper, my friend Bulla makes the most of his profession (he is a math faculty, and a darn good one at that) by using a fountain pen. There’s something oddly likable about a bloke using ink and steel to pour out ideas in today’s world of bits and bytes.
Inspired by this, I decided to start using a fountain pen myself. Initially, I was sceptical whether the friendly neighbourhood ‘Masterjee’ stationery shop (Stationery shop my foot!! It sells everything from ice-creams to iPods) would still be selling fountain pens, but Bulla told me they did. I was wondering how much a run-of-the-mill pen and a bottle of ink would cost. The answer: 20 bucks for the pen and 15 for a bottle of good ol’ Chelpark ink.
I promise you, just holding a bottle of ink in my hands with that distinctive smell floating about brought back vivid memories from school days. In fact, the one most prominent picture in my mind’s eye was of the first day in Class 3 when I was allowed to use pens. We were advised to use fountain pens back then since they would help to “improve one’s handwriting”.
Anyway, I reached home and just when I was about to start using the new pen, I came across a very old Parker in my table-drawer. I had inherited the pen from a great-aunt who used to live in Ahmedabad. I lovingly took the pen and filled it up with ink and to my surprise, the pen was still in pretty good condition despite years of not being used at all.
Curiosity about fountain pen maintenance led me to the Almighty Google and most of the search results gave the same advice; empty the ink-tank once a month and keep filling and emptying the tank with water till clear water flows from the nib. I decided to go along with this and that is where I re-discovered an age old habit.
The Parker that I have is the one with a piston tank, so I needed to first squeeze out the ink, insert the nib into a bowl of water and then release the pressure so that water would flow into the tank. I must have done this for about half an hour only to realize that the ink would show no sign of stopping. There just seemed to be another drop of ink every single time. I kept at it for almost an hour and that is when I realized the joys of learning about patience and persistence.
In today’s “modern age” (every age was “modern” once; the same Parker pen that I held in my hands must have been the “in-thing” at some point of time) of 30-minute home-delivery of pizzas to 30 seconds or less burgers at a McDonald’s, the maintenance of a fountain pen and the discipline it brings into your writing (one site I went through advised not to keep the pen unused for long periods of time; “consider filling up the ink-tank as a commitment to using the pen”…beautiful words to an old-fashioned guy like me) are wonderful qualities that perhaps need to be rediscovered by us young folks.