Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Favourite Fountain Pen

Hmmm... the title sounds like one of those essay writing exercise topics in school isn't it - in the lines of "My pet", "My Self"? Well probably the post is too like one of them ;-)

From time I can remember, I have always fancied stationery items and pens top the list! Even today, more than the trendy ball point pen, I adore the ever elegant fountain pen - more commonly called 'ink pen' during school days.

The first time we ever had to write using pens in school was in the fourth standard and we were strictly forbidden to use ball point or micro tip pens. I think Pilot was the only or rather the most famous micro tip pen then.

And being the first exposure to ink and ink pens, there was always the usual "supplements" attached - staining a white shirt, ink on white walls, ink on the floor, ink on desks and leaking pens blotting the school bags, notebooks, pencilboxes. Almost every pencil box had a chalk piece or a blotting paper or a peice of cloth to counter a leaky pen. Ofcourse many relied on their hair too - which I totally despised. Most pens would have teeth marks around the nib area. A few extreme cases had even a bit of blue stain on their teeth.

The classy Hero pen was ever a luxury. I remember the few different models - one with round smooth ends, the other with a metal ring and the other just plain flat ends. There were just three distinct colours - black, green and maroon. Buying a Hero pen would cost a fortune. My first Hero pen was priced at Rs.25! Though I loved the Hero pen, my only fear was going dry on ink during exams. I always felt the inner rubber sac in the Hero pen could not hold enough ink for an exam though time and again I was proved wrong. No matter how much ever I was convinced by my friends and parents, I would never take a Hero pen to an exam. But the best feature of Hero pen - apart from its elegance and flawless nib - is the ease of refilling and the no-mess mechanism. Besides, it was a matter of pride to have a Hero pen showcased in the pencilbox.

My long time patronage was for Camlin. I liked the model which had a little transparent space in the body to see how much ink was left out. And they were not that leaky as well. And I always knew they could literally fill a truck load of ink! Later, during my 10th, I liked this special suction model of Camlin where the tail end of the pen had to be unscrewed to release the ink and screwed again - with the nib dipped in ink - to refill.

There were hundred other local brands - very fancy and cheap but the biggest risk of buying them was the leaking factor. So I always relied on Camlin or Hero.

And when it came to feeding the pen - my choice was obviously Bril ink. There was another brand in use called Chelpark, a bit expensive than Bril; but I always felt Chelpark never had the right viscosity as Bril. Chelpark ink was generally too watery and too light. There was also the Camlin brand ink but still Bril stood a class apart or atleast I felt so! But one advantage of the Camil ink bottles was that they came in plastic containers with a squeeze cap. So it was rather easy filling a non-suction pen. But we had ink fillers and re-used syringes which came in handy for the Brill-like open bottles. And almost each household had this one big bottle of ink to refill the small bottle from time to time.

I don't know why but more than the colours which I was supposed to use, which were blue and black, I've always had a liking for the other exotic colours - red, pink, green and later turquoise blue! I would get them - nevertheless - just out of interest and have separate fountain pens filled with red, pink or green ink and use them for 'other' purposes like scribbling, writing letters or signing greeting cards and ofcourse putting tick marks on old notebooks (as mentioned in this post);-)

I still relish the habit of writing with an ink pen and I still do buy ink pens. I know fountain pens are hardly in use these days other than in schools. But even there, the students prefer other pens while writing board exams. But as the tradition goes - its good to start with an ink pen, which definitely gives a better handwriting than the ball point pen. Long Live the fountain pen!


Balaji S Rajan said...

Fountain pen, Chelpark, Bril, Camlin, Stationery items... RAVI.... you have made me remember all those good old days!

I also get attracted for Stationery items. Even today in UK, whenever we visit huge stores I spend some time in the stationery department and look at things.

My father was involved in some stationery business and so I got interest in that from childhood. It was an art to see him cleaning the fountain pen.

I was impressed by it and I used to do the same on a Saturday when the Quarterly/Half-yearly/Annual exam started on a Monday. I remember all those types of pen you have mentioned in your post. The transparent looking one was my favourite. We had 'Gundu' pens. I love to write with fountain pens and even today I use them. Few months before I went in search of a ink bottle in London, and one of my friend had it in his shop. It was to take some thumb impression print.

By the way, the injection type of fountain pens were able to hold very little ink. Who could forget those school bags which had the mark of ink.

I still remember many parents saying that they could allow the children to use those kinds of special pens only for Annual exams. Since I had a very good handwriting my sisters thought it was only because of my pens. LOL. They used to try when I was away.

How could you think of a post on pens? Good one. After the arrival of Geeflo's the fountain pens had their own death.

Anyhow good post!

Sree's Views said...

oh nice post Ravi..

when u had given the list of brands in the beginning , u had not written abt Hero and I instantly thgt..ahaa..let me tell him in the comment..but was surprised that u have dedicated a full para to it.

That's my fav as it has some comedy behind it. I went to a girls' school and when we say 'hero' it was always made fun of :))

our fingers used to be permanently stained blue and no amount of scrubbing cleans it completely.

Someone told me that scratching the nib against marble improves (?) it and I did so much that a the whole thing wore off :(

My grandfather gave me a 'sheafer' and it was my fav and still is :) though I dont use it these days.
and the best thing is , I have never bght a fountain pen , its always a gift.

ahaa...Ravi..u have again done fond memories :)

No matter how many ball pens come ,
each fountain pen holds a story :)

Ravi said...

Balaji Sir,
Every time I read your comments, a whole lot of nostalgic memories are kindled and this time too it did exactly the same! I am happy that I found a partner in fancying stationery items ;-)

And probably your sisters were very true about the pen factor! Indeed it plays a big role in the handwriting. Regd. gundu pens, I was amazed to see such huge sized pens when I visited Kamaraj's house in T.Nagar.

I think Reynold's did the trick in almost wiping out ink pens!

Thanks! Your post highlighted the posts I had missed. Yes - those blue stained index finger and thumb!! A typical trademark of a school student isnt it?

"Sheafers" - wow! I remember the pen which my dad had and would give it to me only sparingly and that too only to be used at home. The design itself was wonderful with the nib attached to the body. I used to wonder what if the nib breaks?

Sree, I was specially surprised to know that you too believed in scratching the nib on marble. I used to rely on mosaic flooring and it did work for me many time. For me that technique was like "seasoning" the pen. ha ha!

Thanks for your lovely comments again!

வேதா said...

well ravi u wont believe it, jus a few days bfore i had a discussion with my 10 year old niece about ink pens. she had jus started using pens and i asked her why is she not using ink pens. she replied 'che athai atha use panina kaiyellam ink agidum, enga classla ellarum ballpoints or gel pens thaan use panrom'. i felt really sad bcos i firmly believe that the good handwriting i have is due to the usage of ink pens. i really feel good reading ur post. i advised my niece to use a ink pen now and then and she has said 'yes athai':D

saravansivan said...

Ravi...ippadi ellarum "school days"a ninavupaduthi vitta eppadi, velaiye nadakamatengudhu..Naan kashta pattu season panni vachirundha penava pakkathu seat ponnu vaangittu poi sodhapittu thirumba kudukumbodhu oru kovam varum paarunga, erkanave en kai ezhuthu badu kevalama irukum..en history sir en answer sheeta eduthu classuke kamipaar, unruled sheetsla naan kona konaya ezhudhuven..Nalla velai, public examla ruled sheets kuduthaangapa..thappichen...Indha manja color bril ink atta pottilam, HO bangalore, BO chennai irukum..appathla irundhe enaku bangalore mela konjam kadupu, poramai..Ippa vera vazhi illa..Bangalorela than vaazhkainu ayiruchu..

Ravi said...

Thanks! En varuthamum adhu dhaan. During our school days, it used to quite exciting to use a ball point because we were discouraged to do so and also ball point pens were not in so much abundance as today. But as we progressed to higher classes, we realised the importance of ink pens. I am happy that "elders" (elders-na vayasanavanga-nu nenaikka pidaadhu, unga neice-kku neenga elder dhaane? appadi!!) like you are imparting the good old habit of writing with ink pen to the younger ones.

Thanks for coming by again. Ungaloda prev comments plus unga school pathina posts - all these are the reasons to have stuck to school days!
Well, as you said, that is one advantage or disadvantage of ink pens - it cannot be used by others. Yes, seasoning is very important for pens. Hindi/Tamil ezhudharuthukku pattai adikkara pens would be good. They make the letters looks bold and neat. For English it should be thin. Enna correct-a?

saravansivan said...

Ravi, pudhu snegamndradhala pudhu postsoda niruthama appadiye unga pazhaiya posts pakkam ponen..meendum oru 1hr well spent..Mikka nandri..Andha DD news post, i enjoyed..ditto experiences with me..enga veetlaiyum DD than..anga comment potta gavanikaama poiduveengalonu than inga podren..tendency illaiya...Suganya balakrishnan tamizha naadunu mudive panniten..Sangitava sight adichu adichu than ivlo englipish kathukiten, naalu vari "..." vaikama ezhudha mudiyudhu..Courtesy DD news..Indha threada pidichu en experiences ezhudhren, kochikaadheenga..royalty venumnaalum katren..but idhu oru nalla lead...inga monsoon thaandavam adudhu ravi..nalaiku unga bloga meendum dharisikren..

R.Prabhu said...

Miga Arumaiyana post Ravi!!! Bag-la mattuma ink spill aagi irukkum. Ethanai peru sattaiyila spill aagi irukkum. Adhuvum on April 1st, which rarely comes during schooldays, becomes a special occasion. And the last day in school before the annual holidays. Splashing ink on friends' shirts was fun. But veetla semaya dose ulugum, but adhula thaan thrill :)

Nice post!!!

Ravi said...

Thanks! Yes, Sukanya was Tamilian for sure but her Tamil pronounciation was a pain to the ears! Sangita was really cute. It would be a pleasure to hear your experiences. Royalty? Enna vechu comedy keemedy pannaliye??

Yes! How did I forget that? Infact on the last teachers used to stand guard so that the guys don't resort to spraying ink on other guys' shirts. Thanks again Prabhu for your comments and filling the gaps ;-)

Siva said...


This is the first time I was reading your blogs and the moment I saw you had put something on the ink pen...I read it because I love fountain pens. I used one in my MBA 2 years back. We had a Business English session where we had to write some thing...this professor was walking along when the class was writing...but when ever she cam near me she used to look long at my paper and I used to become fidgety...Then during the last five minutes...she came to me, smiled and is nice to see that you still use a fountain pen, i love fountain pens...the sparkle in her eyes told everything...thanks for making me remember the old days.

Ravi said...

Hi Siva, welcome here and thanks for the nice comment. Anybody who has used and appreciated a fountain pen never hide their fascination for the same! At office too I have now started using fountain pen and just as my post, people on seeing it, would joke at first and then start narrating their school/college tales.

Even your tidbit here asserts that point! Nice one Siva - thanks!

//thanks for making me remember the old days.//
Pleasure is mine Siva! And I equally enjoyed reading your comment.

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