Dilip Basak – love him or hate him, you cannot ignore him.

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Dilip Basak. Some love him, recalling with happiness how he has brought pens – often that belonged to ancestors – back to life. While on the other end of the spectrum are the ones who hate him and their argument is also compelling, to say the least. “The man is obnoxious,” they say, adding that he is conceited to a fault. “He fails miserably to deliver on time and is perpetually increasing the making charges, even as he spends most of his time flooding social media with inane pictures of pens that he claims to have mended or giving interviews to journalists, running after publicity.

Let us start by focusing on his workspace – a dingy little hole in the wall, where he has been working for the last many decades. Even a cursory glance will tell you just how physically challenging it must be for the man to be working out from that rabbit hole, day in and day out. Naturally, he is not well – suffering from high blood sugar, low blood pressure, and other physical challenges. He has virtually lost vision in one of his eyes due to a cataract that has to be removed immediately and is, even by his optimistic assumptions, capable of working only at 50 percent capacity.

Now consider the fact that he is the only bread-earning member of his family and is providing a service where he has no competitor in the near vicinity. The cost of inputs too has gone through the roof in the years since he learned his trade from his father and today, with most of the local pen manufacturing entities having downed shutters, accessing spare parts is almost an impossibility. “That he is still at it, and is providing whatever service that he can, is in itself a miracle,” says his apologists. They also point out the fact that with him will be buried the lost art of pen repairs and pen making – a craft that was once near ubiquitous, apart from being highly sought after. And as for the amount that he is charging – the less said the better, considering the fact that most of the Pelikans and Montblancs and Watermans and Conway Stewarts that he is mending, are, to say the least, priceless.

Dilip Basak

“He is a simpleton,” said one customer who has been dealing with him for a long time now, who, by virtue of his presence in the fountain pen collecting circles is aware of the complaints against Dilip Basak. “He is someone, who is neither worldly wise, nor does he have enough formal education to weigh his words, always speaking his mind which lands him in trouble. Judge him not by his accent, but by his craftsmanship, by his inventiveness, by his ability to bring back to life pens that have long been discarded as dead and gone”.

I have personally known him for quite some time now. I have had innumerable dealings with him. He has mended pens on which I had all but given up hope. He has broken pens that have shattered my heart. And he has created pens for me – from the scratch – that I not only use fairly regularly but are extremely close to my heart. He exhibits a rare kind of bravado, which some say, comes about from the “ignorance is bliss” kind of a countenance – bravado that allows him to spark his lighter and apply the flame onto the feed of a Pelikan to dislodge the nib. Remember this is no Richard Binder who knows exactly what he is doing, but your average guy who is taking a chance, oblivious (or is it uncaring as some allege) to the risks involved.

Dilip Basak

Trust me, he is ill. He is afflicted with high blood sugar, has very low blood pressure, is anemic, has a host of issues that call for physio-therapeutic intervention, and needs to have the cataract removed from his eye which has robbed the vision of his eye – the working eye. Make him stand alone in that rabbit hole for ages at an end, day in and day out and you will know what the man goes through for a living. Add to it a fact that most of us overlook – he is not a fountain pen aficionado the way most of us are. He is a connoisseur perhaps. But not an aficionado. By no stretches of wild imagination, a fountain pen and ink fanatic the way we understand the terms. He is there not for his love for fountain pens – he is there doing his job. He is there because he must make the ends meet. He is there to earn his living by doing the only thing that he knows, mending pens. On his “being there” depends the well-being of his family.

Remember that next time you give him a job. He is not sloppy or callous or simply conceited. He is one who is desperately fighting a battle where the tides are turning faster than we care to think.

watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66x3VXki-1Y&t=865s


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