Inked Happiness turns four today. Like all birthdays, ours is a special one too, for it is on this day that we give away the Inked Happiness Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to the world of writing, writing instruments and the writers who wield them. The 1st Award had gone to Yusuf Mansoor – collector, restorer and historian of fountain pens, in a glittering ceremony attended by the who’s who of the community in Kolkata.
For the second year, we were constrained, as the Corona induced Lockdown was in place and we were in no position to organise a physical function. However, the recipient of the 2nd Inked Happiness Lifetime Achievement Award – collector, Nibmeister and the glue that holds the fountain pen fraternity together, Sudhir Kalyanikar – by his gracious acceptance, had allowed us to overcome all the obstacles and move forward.
This year too, we are in dire straits. The virus is mutating faster than the big five would come out with new models in their heydays and things are as damp as squids. But life must go on and we, fountain pen lovers, have this thing about holding on, however unsurmountable the odds may seem to be stacked against us.
As a matter of fact, things are not really bad for the fountain pen. The forced isolations, coupled with an overdose of digital overwhelm has got us many new converts, especially those who have defected from the ranks of the wired generation, and hand-writing is back in vogue, as it were, at least among a few. Fountain pen, ink and accessory sales are up, though the action has mostly shifted from the brick-and-mortar stores to the ecommerce sites. Naturally, the 3rd Inked Happiness Lifetime Achievement Award demanded a recipient who would not only be emblematic of this gravity defying resurgence of the fountain pen, but would also simultaneously celebrate the mainstreaming of the written word.
And who is better suited to be crowned, than the Maestro – Prof K C Janardhan, who has done more for handwriting, lettering and calligraphy than perhaps, all of us put together? He has been a professional calligrapher for more than three decades now, having gone professional long before calligraphy as a passion was even in vogue. He has had innumerable corporate clients, to whom he has opened the world of exquisitely written documents, that too while the computers were stretching the horizons of page-making possibilities. He has trained batches of students, converting many to become lifelong practitioners. He has taught calligraphy on an airplane, on a bus and on a train, not to mention the conventional classrooms, where his lessons on the Seven Elements of Handwriting continue to be highly sought-after. He has been the brand ambassador, teaching power handwriting for an iconic fountain pen brand. He has taken his abilities and showcased them in different parts of the globe, winning accolades for the Nation. And while doing all this, he has established, single-handed, the only one of its kind Museum for writing and writing instruments in the world!
I will fail in my duties if I do not mention the messages that have poured in from different parts of the globe, starting with a communication from the Rt. Hon. Virendra Sharma, MP, from the United Kingdom. The message from the Hon. Bibek Debroy, Fountain Pen lover, Academician per excellence and Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, is not only touching in content, but also exudes the kind of blessings that keeps all of us going. I will not go to individually thank all those who took time off their busy schedules to join us in our moment of joy – please accept our sincerest gratitude. We are what we are, because of your blessings and hope that we will be able to continue our search for excellence to whet your appetite, even as we constantly raise the bar that we set for ourselves.
A special word of thanks to Ikram Ahmed Khan who provided us with the bandwidth to conduct the Zoom meeting at a time when we were literally on the deep end of the net, completely clueless. No words however will be enough to thank Anil Thamman, who came on board with his vast experience as a Toast Master to not only conduct the event with professional élan, but when he saw that we were just not capable to living up to his exacting standards, steered our rudderless ship to safety. A look at the attached link of the programme will explain what I mean (and the level of my gratitude) apart from, I hope, being Inked Happiness’ first faltering step towards the world of video presentations.
For more information see the YouTube video: