Fountain pen shows in India – why this Kolaveri di? (Part 2)

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Fountain Pen Shows in India – why have eggs when you can eat the golden goose?

The fountain pen sellers of the Fort area in Mumbai are livid. Why is their livelihood being threatened by the sudden deluge of Fountain Pen shows? These are all ancestral businesses, small, mostly single counter operations. And they claim that they have been literally swamped by the deluge of shows which has steadily eaten into their businesses. As if demonetisation and the sudden impact of GST was not bad enough, business, which was down to a trickle has been sucked into a vortex with obvious fallout and the simmering embers are visible to anyone who will care to look.

Fountain pen shows in India

“You had one in December here in Mumbai, then followed it up with two in Ahmedabad and now are planning another one here, again this month. You have sponsors pouring in bucketloads and are charging the participants per table which goes to line your pockets, but have you considered how it is our victuals that you are snatching? You say you are doing it for the love of the fountain pen, but has it occurred to you that in the process, you are actually destroying its market? Where were you pen lovers when the demand was down in the dumps? Now that it is showing some signs of revival all of you have jumped in, trying to outdo each other, while we, who had weathered the storm are now being forced to pay the price?” The allegations were straight and to the point.

I tried telling them about free markets and reiterated our love for the fountain pens but was shut up with “your love is a hobby. You have your cushy jobs and don the garb of pen lover or pen seller, or even manufacturer as and when convenient – try making this your bread earner like us and then talk to us”. Point taken.

Other bread earners, like the manufacturers that I talked to, aren’t happy with the frequency either. Some have opted out. Some are attending just out of FOMO (fear of missing out), but what is definitely missing is the gung-ho that normally accompanies such industry meets. Imagine meeting the fraternity of fountain pen lovers, experts, manufacturers, dealers, suppliers and assorted buyers – all over a span of a weekend, that too under one roof. Imagine renewal of old ties, forging of new friendships, getting abreast of emerging trends, and the sealing of business deals … smiles an octogenarian manufacturer wryly, “too much of any good thing is bad. All that you say is good, just that, when it happens four times over as many months, it ceases to excite”. He couldn’t have put it more mildly.

Fountain pen shows in India
Why this Kolaveri di?

And this comes on top of the fact that except the earlier show in Mumbai none helped the stall owners recoup the monies they had invested. Sales were not even an excuse and the long faces of the table owners were studies that would melt even the coldest of hearts. The sellers at the top end were the worst hit and though the ones with medium to low priced products saw footfalls, the numbers were definitely not enough to cover the money and time invested. “Yes, some tables saw brisk sales” said one seller from Mumbai who had put up a counter for vintage and antique writing instruments, “but they were the ones palming magic ball point pens, sharpeners, erasers and other accessories from China. So much for the love of fountain pens, that too, in shows ostensibly touted to further their cause”. Even the sarcasm is muted.

What is not muted is the letters that we receive from fountain pen lovers and aficionados on the issue. One gentleman uses the term “the circus of pen shows.” Another, draws parallels with the Madhur Bhandarkar film “Fashion” and the way the models were shown to be exploited, alluding that the average lover of fountain pen is forced to compromise by a coterie of vested interests with absolutely no scruples. In fact, the gentleman does not mince his words and as they are too strong, I am deliberately leaving them out, choosing discretion over valour.

Fountain pen shows in India

But the point remains. The frequency of the shows – that too in the circuit in which they are being lobbed is raising questions and the questions are begging answers. “Nobody is doing it for charity and if the interest is strictly financial, why is the fountain pen community allowing it to be taken for such a joyride, over and over again”? And, when the dust settles, will the dead and charred carcass of the fountain pen do a phoenix?

The questions are not mine. They have been put to me by various people – lovers, manufacturers, dealers, et all. I am just compiling them and hope that the community will debate the issues being raised so that we may chart the right way forward. For if we don’t, history will not spare us.

By the way, join me as I pray to God that the Corona virus does not play spoilsport. The show, like they say, must go on!  

For more information, read the first part of the story:           


10 Replies to “Fountain pen shows in India – why this Kolaveri di? (Part 2)”

  1. Today is one of our most avid reader and very good friend Guruprasad Sawardekar’s birthday. Please join me in wishing a long and happy life with many fountain pens!

  2. This one is a definite killer. Loved the way you chose discretion over valor (?). Only wish people would understand the subtleties of your language: most I think don’t. Why? They don’t even realise that they have been rogered, Royally! Anyway, it was an excellent read!

  3. Dada ,excellent blog for all of us to introspect & cleanse our souls driven by the rat race to sell as well as acquire. It’s time we all penlovers redeem ourselves sooner & maintain a balance between love & greed . Dada looking forward to more soon . Thanks dada for your birthday wishes& blessings . Regds,

  4. Beautifully written. People should choose wisely what they buy. Some people find this laughable but i would reiterate that buying cheap and knockoff fountain pens from chinese manufacturers is like cancer spreading in the FP community. It will destroy or atleast affect badly our Indian FP manufacturing and sales.

  5. Dear Mr. Chawm,

    Saw your article, definitely it needs to be regulated, An outstation manufacturer like us needs to devote a lot of time and money for travelling and other aspects for shows held all over ,irrespective of the high volume quantity sales we generally , we do not complete recover the expenses from the sales but the shows are a point for us to showcase our products and we take the shows as a promotional expense of the brand.

    One need and all India Fountain pen Body but the issue is we are having several groups amongst the community , the Kolkata, Mumbai , South . Wherein the divide is not due to any issue but due to personality traits.

    First I have from time to time said make a body which everybody accepts secondly not more than 1 show per city per year. Have to increase the users rather than just showcasing need cities like Calcutta , Chennai , Bangalore and Hyderabad specially Calcutta and Chennai have the highest potential.

    We need to also study the international shows especially the shows held in USA since many shows are happening year round and how are they planning there.


    Unique Pen Industries
    Manufacturers & Distributors : Fountain Pens,Ball Pens,Roller Pens & Gift Sets.

    (received in mail. uploading – editor)

    1. Yes very nicely said. Truth is bitter but the possibilities of success will depend on best planning with more surprises with letting awareness of programs. As a group of calligraphers we stand with events and try to provide best of our services too. The balance of plannings, events and understanding is a must to be considered. There has to be something brings everyone to the same page. We should re-frame the current structure and bring joys to the community.


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