Dil hai chota sa, choti si ASA.

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There’s nothing chota about the Dil of ASA’s Subramaniam though!

L Subramaniam, aka Subbu, aka Anna is one of the most loved names in the fountain pen fraternity. He was born and brought up in Kolkata (near Lake Market and went to the Bhawanipur Education Society College) before shifting to Chennai. In Chennai he gave up a lucrative job to follow the dictate of his heart and took the plunge – into the world of fountain pens!

The year was 2013 and the journey of ASA pens begun (ASA is incidentally an acronym of the first letters taken from the names of Subramaniam, his wife and daughter). Before we move further, just take a moment to ponder on the passion of a family man putting everything on stake to follow a childhood love for the fountain pen, an instrument of writing, which was, for all intents and purposes as dead as a doornail.

Subramaniam did not have anything when he started – neither could he fall back on a family legacy of pen making, nor did he have prior knowledge about the craft, leave alone the necessary wherewithal to start a manufacturing unit from scratch. Naturally, the early forays were fraught with setbacks, massive, for one who was just venturing out. Besides, back then, the fountain pen community in India was far from either being organised, or big, or connected and even for the odd pens that Subramaniam turned, there were hardly any takers.

ASA pens
A Christmas with ASA.

But ASA did not lose heart (or hope as in Asha) and persevered against all the odds. Fountain Pen Forums were the new thing, and Subramaniam, ever the prime mover, Facebook-ed his way to recognition. Orders began to trickle in and satisfied customers began to applaud the young man on a mission. Yusuf Mansoor, probably India’s most well-known collector and restorer of fountain pens, was among the first to extend his blessings to Subramaniam and ASA. As a matter of fact, it was Yusuf Mansoor who had fondly christened him “Anna”, moved by Subramaniam’s tenacity and love for the fountain pen.

The faith of the early converts was not misplaced. ASA was among the first in India to marry the Indian tradition of hand turning with imported converters, nibs and clips. Ever the practical man, Subramaniam had gone the imported way not only for the quality and price, but also because he just didn’t have the felicities to manufacture everything in-house. Besides, considering his volume, it did not make business sense either. Initially, the Brahmins of ebonite eye-dropper fillers had turned their collective noses in disgust, something that they now regret, for what ASA had initiated is virtually the industry norm.

JOYO, Kanwrite...
This is the spirit of Yuletide!

There is another great service that Subramaniam has done to the fountain pen fraternity and we will fail in our duties if we do not acknowledge it. He has, almost single-handed, ensured the availability of quality fountain pens at reasonable price points, that too in the net, helping the cause of the industry and that of the fountain pen lover. One just has to think of the pre-ASA days so far as acquiring a hand turned Indian pen went, to understand what I am saying. He has also been instrumental in ensuring, in his individual capacity, that collecting fountain pens shed the “elitist” tag that it unfortunately, but inevitably carries.

Yes, to be fair, after sales service and delivery schedules are still grey areas and the ASA web site leaves much to be desired, but then again, at the price points ASA does its business, one can understand that the shortcomings are more accidental than deliberate and therefore excusable, especially in view of the fact that ASA is a one-man operation and not a business conglomerate.

ASA pens
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart…

I had bought my first ASA fountain pen in 2017 and have, since then, not only made multiple purchases, but have also come to consider Subramaniam as a close friend. Close enough to request him to make my Christmas gifts to myself – two Duofold look alike fountain pens, one white and the other yellow. Both are converter fillers and while the yellow one comes fitted with a standard Jowo nib, the white one sports a Kanwrite flex, which, as all aficionados will agree, has its own charm.

I will not go into the details about the sheer pleasure that writing with these pens are, nor will I bore the fountain pen lovers with the details about the balance or the weight. Both the pens being way lighter than either the original Parker Duofold or the various tributes to it by different pen makers that I have collected over the years. Suffice to say, for Indian hands, especially those not used to writing with fountain pen equivalent of maces, the pens are as near perfect as they get.

ASA pens
Merry Christmas! May your pens never run dry!

Dear Subramaniam, here’s wishing you and the ASA family a Merry Christmas. May the Lord who has brought you here, also give you the courage to endure so that prosperity may follow. We who love our fountain pens will pray for your success like we always do. Good Luck and Godspeed!   

For more information: https://asapens.in/


20 Replies to “Dil hai chota sa, choti si ASA.”

  1. Dear Chawm Ganguly, I am an avid reader of your blog and I really appreciate your work on Indian Fountain pen. This article is also very nicely written. But there is one thing that i didn’t like, especially coming from an educated person and at a time when the whole of India is torn apart on religion, caste, language etc. Your use of the word Brahmin was uncalled for. I know what you tried to mean but you must take care that you do not use such words casually. I hope you dont mind me pointing that out. I wouldn’t like it if anyone thinks that a nice person like you is a casteist.

  2. Beautifully written. Subbu has recently made me an ASA Daily with a Kanwrite flex. Merry Christmas to you and to Subbu.

  3. Well written!

    Subbu is a good friend of mine as well. His disarmingly-down-to-earth attitude and love for fountain pens is what runs Asa!

    Pradeep CHANDRAHAS

  4. Very well written article, it’s a real tribute to Anna.He is Amazing and very generous person , his love towards fountain pen is amazing.

    I still can recall the time when group of 8-9 people created first ever wats group dedicated to fp and Anna was part of that group, we together conceptulize the idea of ASA Azadi! One of the most loved pen by ASA.

    Great going Mr Ganguly, you are doing great service
    Via this blog.

  5. Hi Mr. Subramanian, good luck for the new year. ASA is definitely a comforting resource point for the fountain pen community.

  6. Subbu, we call him lovingly, is a heart throb of fountain pen lovers. He has mastered witch craft of creating fountain pens and tuning Nibs.
    I spotted him in 2013 itself when wondering net for fountain pens since then I am after him.
    He’s equally famous internationally as well, once I reported a small flaw, and whole world was after me !!

    This alone speaks of his dedication and passion, he’s very reasonable as far as pricing is concerned.

    May God Bless Him.

    Best Wishes

  7. He is truly a gem of a person. There may be issues with the backlog of orders. The wait for the pen may be frustrating at times but i can vouch that his craftsmanship is master class. God bless mr Subramanyam aka ASA subbu sir. I wish his continued service to the fountain pen community as a whole and all the very best for his future endeavours.

  8. Enjoyed reading the blog and completely second all that’s mentioned here. Anna, as we fondly call him has always been pivotal in the fountain pen journey of almost anyone who likes FPs. Merry Christmas to one and all here.

  9. This article speak so truly about Subbuji, just a picture of him is missing here..he never fails to deliver..

  10. Subbey ji aka Anna what I fondly used to call him . This blog by Mr Ganguly is a tribute to the well deserved , amicable and down to earth man.
    He carried himself through his passion, determination, dedication and hardwork in the area of fountain pens. His passion is well supported by his family.
    I have personally experienced writing with these pens .
    Wishing him great success for all his future endeavors and Happy New Year.

    By wishes for ASA pens to go for greater height in world of fountain pens and create history.
    Best wishes

  11. Great Subbu sir! I have been using ASA pens since 2014. It has been a joy to use them and be associated with a jolly person like you.
    ~ Deepak (Pune)

  12. Dear Chawm,
    Once again an erudite piece from you, elucidating the pros and cons of a one man show. Subbu’s metamorphosis from a fountain pen lover to a fountain pen maker, who changed the rules of the game in Indian fountain pen manufacturing with affordable ranges and easy accessibility on the net… is commendable.
    I wish Subbu, the very best of health and prosperity in the years to come and ASA to fulfil the ASHAYEN of many fountain pen lovers and create more among the younger generation to keep the habit of handwriting and the culture of using fountain pens alive!

  13. Dear Subbu Anna;

    Hats off to your passion and tenacity to give great FPs with a great value. Thank you for bringing back the FP habit!

  14. Sir,
    How to order a fountain pen from Calcutta?
    What is the prices of pens?
    What is the mode of payment?

  15. A very well written article. As a proud owner of a matt black Nauka I can vouch for the quality!


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