Ink a Drug, said Vladimir Nabokov. Nandini Ramchandran concurs!

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If Ink be the food of Love buy on, says Nandini Ramchandran, her tongue firmly in cheek.

A lot of us went a little crazy in 2020.

Some went bananas baking bread, others stirred up buckets of Dalgona Coffee.

I went on a crazy online pen and ink shopping spree once the lock down restrictions lifted.

By the time better sense prevailed, I had accumulated mostly random stuff that I will never use and swore never to do it again.


One would think I would have learned my lesson from last year but as I find myself mindlessly adding items to my shopping cart and before I irretrievably commit myself to purchases that I know I will regret in a week or sooner, I offer myself some advice which I will gladly share with you, dear pen friends.

Yes, you are absolutely right; more Gyaan! And this time with the noble purpose of saving money and with a bit of luck, even making some!


I confine my advice, at present to inks because relative to pens, inks have a shorter shelf life, especially if not stored properly and if proper ink hygiene is not maintained.

But first things first. If you haven’t already done so, please book you Fosfor slot and your vaccine shot(s). And in that order.  You may still manage a slot on CoWIN but with Fosfor you are looking at a waiting period of at least 2 years.

And now down to business!

Do an ink audit and divide your inks into the following categories:

A. Inks actually in use

B. Inks that have not been touched since they were bought in a Group Buy 5 years ago when just about everyone picked up a bottle or three.

C. Rare/ out of production/Investment inks that will fund your child’s higher education/wedding/vacation home in Goa.


We focus on Category B.

Open and check the bottles and see what condition the inks are in. Is there any mould/SITB? If yes, unhesitatingly discard the ink and keep the bottles if pretty or unusual.

If the inks look ok, decide whether you actually like the inks and will use them or did you give in to peer pressure while buying them. Do the inks spark joy in you?  No?  Give them away and Marie Kondo will surely approve.

If undecided, keep a sample and seriously consider giving them away or selling them. There are many Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram buy/sell groups where you can list the inks for sale.  When listing the inks for sale, please price them appropriately keeping in mind the quantity left, price of an unopened bottle in the market, that is if the ink is still available for purchase.

Once your sale post is live, sit back and prepare to be entertained. You may expect the following responses:

  1. A sensible buyer who will ask pertinent questions, accepts the quoted price, makes the payment promptly and is willing to wait until the shipping restrictions for delivery are lifted. Bear in mind that this is a rare and highly endangered species and must be protected at all costs.
  2. A prospective buyer who will closely interrogate you about how much you paid for the ink, its provenance, justification for the per ml cost, ask for immediate free shipping and of course offer 1/3rd the quoted price. All this after demanding writing samples on different kinds of paper.
  3. There is usually no third category but occasionally you might just come across some one from category (2) who will actually buy the ink.


Now hopefully you will be left with a manageable collection of inks and you can safely and bravely proceed to Instagram where you are bound to find some ink challenge or the other in process. If not, feel free to create your own! Ink challenges do not have to last 30 days. They can be for a week, a day, based on any theme of choice. The idea is to have fun. No one is judging and every one is a winner. Participate in giveaways or host some yourself. Indiscriminate shopping is often linked to boredom or the fear of missing out. Enjoy what you have, avoid hoarding and when you come across something special, feel free to splurge!  Escape the vicious cycle of mindless spending and buyer’s remorse and find ink Nirvana!

Now, I must ask you to excuse me, I need to get back to my shopping cart. I see that the Super Expensive Fancy Limited Edition Ink in a colour that is similar to a dozen inks that I already own is about to get sold out and I need to complete the purchase ASAP!

Nandini Ramchandran is a lawyer who lives in Gurgaon along with her husband, son, dog and an assortment of ginger cats. She enjoys her collection of fountain pens and inks and offering unsolicited advice to the unwary.

  • All photographs courtesy Nandini Ramchandran

9 Replies to “Ink a Drug, said Vladimir Nabokov. Nandini Ramchandran concurs!”

  1. Nandini ma’am, you could have just eloborated on Point C on ” Ink Audit.”.! Recently I came across a sales post for Lamy Dark Lilac ink bottle of 50ml.for around Rs.8,000/- + shipping charges! Are we really encouraging such trends?! I am afraid, really.!!

    1. Sir, sellers will continue to demand high prices as long as there are buyers willing to pay such exorbitant prices. Perhaps it will motivate the manufacturers to reissue such inks at a more rational price

  2. Lovely write-up. Fun and facts at the same time. Can’t agree more about the Type 2 buyers, yet to come across someone from the third category


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