Meet Anil Thaman, the 64-year-old-youngster who has stunned the disbelievers by clinching the second space in the World handwriting Contest of 2021 organised by the reigning diva of dancing letters Kate Gladstone. As he puts it himself: “to be apart from home and family and move to a different country at the age of 18 and a half, marks the beginning of my story. From being a medical representative in my initial days, to being THE name in the advertising and branding industry in Nepal, my career is summed up in a beautiful journey that has led me towards being a self-motivated individual at the age of 64. My daughter’s gift of a fountain pen to me in 2019 motivated me enough to make sure the gift reached its purpose!” Excerpts of his exclusive tête-à-tête with Inked Happiness:
Inked Happiness: Your handwriting has just been adjudged the second best in the world in the “adults (20-60 years)” category – congratulations! What does this huge win mean to you? What message would you like your achievement to convey to the world, especially our young?
Anil Thaman: Handwriting is the most inexpensive portable skill, and also the best way to express yourself.
Inked Happiness: When did you start practising handwriting? What prompted you to take it up as a hobby?
Anil Thaman: My daughter Dr Arman gifted me with a fountain pen in 2019, and that’s when my journey began.
Inked Happiness: From being a serious hobbyist to the top of the world – what kind of devotion to the cause has helped you traverse the distance? Simply put, how long do you practise in a day to perfect your art form?
Anil Thaman: It required a great deal of studying and practicing. I studied rare books written by the masters and even now I practice for minimum 2 hours every day.
Inked Happiness: Who have been the teachers helping you on the way? Do you also think that self-appointed calligraphers, offering crash courses in calligraphy are actually doing more harm than good to the art form which is known to always command an almost spiritual dedication from the practitioners?
Anil Thaman: Refinement in handwriting would not have been possible without the kind guidance of Prof K.C. Janardhan and Manish Soni. Knowledge in any form should be most welcomed, and will help everyone. Best way to learn is to study rare books written by masters and practice the way the masters recommended.
Inked Happiness: How important is the role played by the writing instruments, inks and paper in the creation and perpetuation of beautiful handwriting?
Anil Thaman: They all equally play a vital role in transforming a good handwriting into a better handwriting.
Inked Happiness: What according to you is the difference between handwriting and calligraphy?
Anil Thaman: Until yesterday my understanding was “Handwriting has unlimited means of expressing yourself with minimum efforts and tools, whereas calligraphy needs disciplined movement for expressions and the tools used for it are highly specialized”. Today my understanding happened with a broader, deeper and greater clarity given by Maestro Prof. K.C.Janardhan.
I would like to quote him for the benefit of the readers:
“Handwriting is a visual expression of speech and a means by which we set down messages in any language we want to communicate, it is a deliberate act of basic day to day communication even in the digital age. Therefore it has to be legible and follow a discipline for readability. This process also needs a lot of practice in the right direction for preparation to proceed to the next higher level called Lettering”.
“When you have artistic abilities you can move to the next level called Lettering which exposes you to different styles of the alphabet with the technical knowledge of Typography, which gives you a in-depth understanding of the nuances of the anatomy of letters. You get a clear understanding of the various styles with greater discipline of practice for aesthetic appeal to reach adorable levels”.
“Calligraphy is the highest level of expression in writing after mastering Lettering. with a clear understanding of the Spiritual dimension. One has to participate in the Spiritual process for an out of body experience. It takes years of dedicated practice to become a Calligrapher. One also needs to be in harmony with the various kinds of nibs, brushes, chisels, other tools, inks, paints, paper, boards, metal, stone, wood, glass and other mediums used for expression.
Your Head thinks, Your Heart feels and Your Hand transfers your thought and feel working in tandem with your breathing rhythm matched to transfer your positive energies into your writing with Harmony”
“So one needs to start with an Academic process to practice Handwriting and proceed to a Cerebral process to perfect your Lettering and later enter the realm of Spiritual process for a Celestial Experience of Calligraphy”
Inked Happiness: How has handwriting helped you cope through these depressing times brought about by the pandemic and the lockdown?
Anil Thaman: I spent most of my time reading, understanding, and practicing books written by masters during the lockdown, and the biggest benefit was that during isolation, I spent most of my time with a pen and paper, which helped me a lot to improve my skillset.
Inked Happiness: What are you doing to popularise the art form? What are your plans for the future?
Anil Thaman: I feel teachers in schools need to be trained first so that they can instil the importance of handwriting in children from an early age. For that, I intend to learn how to teach handwriting to teach children and teachers the correct methods and techniques.