In the world of fountain pen lovers, it is passion — and not pocket — that unites its citizens. It doesn’t matter whether you use a Mont Blanc 149 or an ebonite Gama made in Chennai; your love for writing the old–fashioned way automatically entitles you to feel different — sometimes in a superior way — from others.
With the emergence of social media, this world has only been growing and this growth, in turn, has spurred the growth of stationery brands. There are times when this world holds offline meetings. They are called pen shows — an idea that’s already popular in the West and is slowly, but surely, catching on in India.
So far, it’s been held in Pune and Mumbai, and starting Friday, Kolkata will have its first–ever pen show, titled Pen Mahotsav. Being organised by the College Street–based Pen Club, the three–day event will be held at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
“There will be 24 stalls. The idea behind the show is to create awareness about fountain pen. All top international brands and Indian brands will be represented. The number of international brands is more than 60,” said Sayak Adhya of the Pen Club.
The international brands to feature include Visconti, Parker, Mont Blanc, Pelikan, Aurora, Pilot, Sailor and Kaweco; whereas Indian brands Click, Kanwrite, ASA, Gama, Magna Carta, and Ranga will register their presence.
Chennai–based L. Subramaniam of ASA Pens, who was born in Kolkata and lived here until his early thirties before relocating down south, who will represent two more Chennai brands, Ranga and Gama Pens, told The Hindu: “This event is going to be very, very close to my heart as it is happening in my favourite city and my hometown. About 25% of my customers are from Kolkata and this is an opportunity for me to meet them. And since I am also representing Gama and Ranga, you can say I am carrying the soul of Chennai fountain pens heritage to Kolkata.”
Mr. Subramaniam expects over 10,000 pens to be available for sale, along with various brands of inks and notebooks — two accessories that every serious user of the fountain pen is picky about.
“I’m excited as I have been only talking to so many suppliers only over call and text — it’ll be fun to meet them and interact with them. Whenever I meet someone new and I tell them that we sell fine writing supplies, the only thing they ask is, ‘Oh, do fountain pens still sell?’
“Shows like this help generate awareness,” said Ayush Surana of Aurangabad–based Ayush Paper, which makes fountain pen–friendly notebooks and whose products have gained immense popularity among pen–lovers in the recent times.
Sulekha Works managing director Kaushik Maitra, though not an organiser, feels like a host not only because the once–popular Sulekha ink, which saw a successful revival recently, is synonymous with Kolkata but also because his company has been supporting small pen manufacturers in the city.
“Eastern India has come into focus after a long, long time. I would say the revival of Sulekha has led to this.
We expect many people from eastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh to come here.
Interestingly, as of now, the event has generated a lot of curiosity among common people. The success/failure of the event will determine whether the art of writing with ink is witnessing a revival, at least in this part of the country,” Mr. Maitra said.