This generation may be all about smartphones and digitisation, but it will help to nurture your child’s writing skills. That’s where the good old ink pen will come handy
By Kannalmozhi Kabilan
It took me a month, 10 stores, a persuasive friend and 250 bucks to find a fountain pen I liked. Solid colour, sturdy nib, sleek design – one that didn’t look like it was made for an eight-year-old girl in pigtails who had a thing for pink and sparkles. A decade ago, all I had to do to find a decent fountain pen was walk to the tiny store at the end of the road. And voila!
Well, I got the pen last week and it’s drawn curious looks, strange questions and peculiar interest ever since. And inevitably, it got everyone nostalgic about their fountain pen days. For clearly, fountain pens have become a thing of the past, something to reminisce about. Growing up, the fountain pen was a fixed prop in every scene of daily life – poised in my dad’s shirt pocket, a constant pair with my mother’s glasses, and a mandatory resident of my stationery pouch. It didn’t come easily either; you had to earn it. You needed at least a year’s diligent practice of cursive writing with a pencil to qualify for the fabled ‘fountain’.
With the steady invasion of schools and colleges with fountain pen alternatives, the newer generations do not get to enjoy the fountain pen experience. They don’t know what it’s like to pick the pen that fits your hand just right. They haven’t faced the horror of a broken nib. They’ve never had to hunt down that expensive cartridge. They’ve never had ink smeared fingers to tell the tale of a long work day. They’ve never faced the repercussions of spilt ink. Speaking of which, I almost faced some myself when I dropped a bottle of ink at work whilst trying to fill my fountain pen. Blue pants and a blue carpet were the only saving grace.
But, what kids these days miss out most about the fine device is good penmanship. Writing with a fountain pen is a glide-on-paper-swim-with-ink experience. The structure and working mechanism of the pen allows for the use of thin ink, unlike ball point and roller pens. That, combined with the sturdy nib, gives way for the smoothest writing you’d ever get to experience. Also, fountain pens write with the slightest touch and a whisper of weight. Your penmanship is sure to benefit with the freedom from writing cramps and aching joints. The free-flowing script that the fountain pen allows would make you want to find reasons to write more. Trust me on that; even in my twenties, freed from the obligations of school and college projects, I volunteered to write my younger cousins’ assignments for them.
It was that love for the tool, an impressive-looking journal and a hesitant dalliance with poetry that had me hunting for fountain pens. Now, I’m hooked again. It accompanies me everywhere I go and is being employed in every task – note-taking, grocery list making, doodling, on display for conversation starting and what not.
1. Amp up your hand writing: It can’t be said enough – it’s great for your penmanship. Tested and proven!
I had a bunch of fountain pens that needed various levels of care and repair. I went from shop to shop looking for nibs, fillers and refills. I was laughed at and treated as an oddity. The desk men at the stationery stores couldn’t get why I didn’t just buy new pens. In my time, there were pen shops in every neighbourhood dedicated to servicing fountain pens. Well, not anymore - Peter Selvaraj, 77, fountain pen aficionado
2. It’s good for the hand: The ergonomically efficient fountain pen relieves the hand and wrist of unnecessary pressure. That’s a big advantage to consider.
I’ve never used fountain pens. It’s too much trouble. My school doesn’t require me to either. I generally use ballpoint pens and gel pens. They’re easy to get and easily replaceable - Aravind Sivakumar, 12, clueless millennial
3. It’s environment-friendly too: A fountain pen, even under abysmal conditions, is bound to last at least a good six months. That completely eliminates the accumulated waste of disposable pens.
Started in 1928 by a Sabih Akhter Siddiqui, The Deccan Pen Store is one of the oldest exclusive pen stores that still caters to the city’s instrumental need. They offer pens ranging from 50 bucks to 50 grand. According to the store’s manager, Mustafa Siddiqui, the store has customers of all age group. Says Mustafa, “Compared to other pens, fountain pens don’t sell that well. But, it still has its niche market that’s stable. Handmade pens, broad nibs, fine tips, popular brands – great appreciation for fountain pens still prevails.
In a world removed from simple pleasures in its everyday routine, I believe that paper and pen offer a good escape. If the paper is accompanied by a fountain pen, you’re in for a custom made one. Happy writing to you!
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