Hitesh Dodeja: of Parker Vectors and the art of gifting a-la Awadh!
I have been collecting fountain pens for more than three decades now. And like all collectors I need just an excuse to rattle off even the most insignificant details about my pens – where they were acquired, the stories behind their origins, how they feel in my hands, their individual quirks … everything that make “normal” people go crazy and generally avoid me. Fair enough.
What I cannot recollect that easily, and try I have many times over, is the sheer number of friends I have made over the years – friendships that have sprung, blossomed and continues to bloom because of fountain pens! Take out a fountain pen in a crowded room and certainly someone or the other will slide over and start a conversation about the piece. Most peter out after the initial exchange of pleasantries but some turn out to be like-minded fanatics and naturally the ink starts to flow.
Often you come across pen people, don’t really get the chance to know them or even exchange hand written notes and yet they do things, that are so touching that you end up asking yourself, if life is really a Bollywood blockbuster and the whether the person is your long lost brother? Hitesh Dodeja is one who fits the bill just like Quink fills the Parker Vector!
Hitesh is based out of Lucknow and has been collecting fountain pens for more than a decade now. A teacher by profession, he is an avid reader and has a sizeable fan following in Facebook, thanks in equal parts to his excellent demeanour and his photographic skills. An old-timer in the forums, he is also an exception as seldom, if ever, does he get into acrimonious exchanges.
I first noticed him for his passion for the Parker Vector fountain pens. The Vector (actually the Fountain Pen 1) is of relatively recent origin, being introduced in 1984. It was in production till 1986 when the cap was lengthened, the barrel shortened and the pen renamed as Vector Standard. Certainly not a grail pen by ordinary standards and that is precisely why Hitesh Dodeja is special – as a collector and lover. Like a true lover and the passionate collector that he is, Hitesh Dodeja has spent a fortune (in time and money) in collecting the Vectors and is the proud possessor of collection that is not only awe-inspiring, but also enough to win the respect of seasoned collectors from around the world! I for one, know of no person who can match -leave alone better – the Vectors in Hitesh Dodeja’s collection.
He is also a connoisseur of fine inks. He collects the inks and puts them to excellent use – his hand written notes, in inks that match the mood, are treasured by those lucky enough to receive them, for Hitesh Dodeja is also a very gifted hand lettering expert. In all, he is the perfect carrier of the legacy called Awadh (or Avad or Oudh) and the famous Lucknowi Tehzeeb.
Amitava Mukherjee, another young member of the fountain pen fraternity happened to mention how old Wality Airmail pens are still available in Lucknow. As any fountain pen lover worth his ink would do, I naturally requested Amitava to help me acquire a few, who in turn contacted Hitesh Dodeja with the request. And low and behold, Amitava was back in no time bearing a packet, that contained a letter from Hitesh Dodeja, and three lovely Airmails along with a Rector 103.
“A true lover” it is said, “values the love of the giver, more than the gift of the lover”. It will thus not be appropriate to comment on the pens. But I will certainly put on record the fact that this gesture from the young man in Lucknow has really moved me and the blind lover of fountain pens that we are, I am simply overwhelmed by the gifts. They mean, more than anything else, many, many happy pages of outpourings.
There is another striking parallel that I must draw. Abul Mansoor Meerza Muhammed Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh was exiled by the British and spent his last days in Kolkata (in Garden Reach in Metiaburz, Calcutta). It is thus a kind of history repeating itself as the Wality Airmails, certainly the Nawabs of their kind among Indian period pens, are coming to me in Kolkata, from the City of the Nawabs and making their home in my heart.
And the timing. When the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ – and the three wise men who went to bless the Lord with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, my blessings came in the form of Three Wality Airmails! Blessed indeed I am. Thank you Hitesh Bhai.