Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Think before you ink!

When I had not yet reached voting age, I used to see these writings on the wall: Think before you ink.

One was expected to weigh the pros and cons, think over and then cast his or her vote. Alas, those days are gone! Probably nowadays you are not supposed to think before you cast your vote!!

I was actually thinking of ink when I remembered the writing on the wall.

When I entered First Form (VI standard) I graduated from pencil to pen. Oh, that was a great joy
in itself.

When I graduated to First Form it also meant that I could now sit on a bench with table (to seat 3 students).
Some of these benches had a depression to hold the ink bottle and another to hold the pen. I wondered
what these were for. My school was started in the early 40s and I was told that the depression was
made to hold an ink bottle and the other was meant to hold a nib pen. The nib pen was in use
before the advent of the fountain pen.

The inks made by Indian companies that were available at that time were Iris (later known as Bril) and Sulekha (to a lesser extent). Parker (later Chelpark) was expensive.The royal blue was the most popular colour. Sometimes the shopkeeper would give blue-black, but then very few knew the difference. They just asked for ink. And then we used to buy the ink-fillers. At first we used to get one with a glass bottom and a rubber top. Subsequently one got to get the full integrated plastic body fillers. I wonder how many among you remember all these.

It was not even necessary to buy an ink bottle. One could go to the stationery shop and get the pen
filled with ink for a small charge.

As I grew up, I liked to visit the shops selling exclusively pens. I have visited the "Gem and Co" in
George Town and another one in Mount Road near Shanti Theatre, several times. I think this company was known as Plaza Pen Centre or something like that, since it was close to Plaza theatre.

I liked to go all the way to Gem and Co. because one could get his name engraved for a small fee.
Many students liked to buy pens with transparent plastic, so that one could see how much of ink
is left behind.

Alas, by the time I reached S.S.L.C. in the year 1966, pens were already on the way out and
ball-point pens were very much in use.

A fountain pen is more of a personal treasure. Because of the nib, only the user will get
a smooth writing due to the peculiarity in wear and tear. Whereas a ball-point pen could be
used by any one without a hitch.

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