Leena Shrestha-Menon, Pen Boutique, Raksha Bandhan, Sheaffer Segaris and Visconti Mirage – Aqua!
I have never met Leena Shrestha-Menon. There is no way we could – she runs the world-famous “Pen Boutique” in Maryland USA, and I write a blog about fountain pens in Kolkata, India. That’s an eight thousand plus miles distance, for those who are geographically inclined. Besides, my overriding fascination is vintage Indian pens, which I often scavenge from the rag-pickers and sellers of pre-used stuff, while she is the reigning queen of the branded high-end – dealing in pens that often cost more than what the average person in these parts of the world earns in a year! Naturally, I have never bought a pen from her and the possibility – considering the logistics of courier and customs, not to mention the availability of resources involved – is extremely rare. I am saying this to highlight the fact that there is no commercial reason for Leena Shrestha-Menon to befriend me. There is no ostensible “cause” for her to reach out across the chasm to shower her sisterly affection. In legalese, what is has done to elicit this piece, is therefore an act of natural (read pure, unadulterated) love and affection!
Yet that is exactly what she has done. How we met, how we started exchanging e-mailers, how we connected on the social media, are irrelevant to the point. Fact is, she became the “Didi” (elder sister) and like sisters everywhere, took it upon herself to look after my well-being. Thus, when she sent a message that she was sending me a little packet for “Rakhi”, I was not terribly surprised, for it is on this day that sisters traditionally tie an amulet or a string, symbolising a talisman around the wrists of their brothers, as a symbol of their blessings and their commitment to protect them from all evil.
The festival of Raksha Bandhan is widely prevalent in India and in Nepal, from where Leena Shrestha-Menon hails. Little had I realised that her “little packet” would be akin to the gift that the Magi had borne, overwhelming and catapulting the fountain pen obsessed me to a level I had not thought possible, even in my wildest of dreams!
The first to tumble out of the packet was a Sheaffer Segaris 9474-0 gold tone, a pen that refurbishes the fact that it is the proud bearer of the impeccable and peerless Sheaffer legacy with its ergonomic design and surprising ease of use. Suffice to say, it writes with a passion that can be compared to the one with which we write our first love letters. The neat lines, the efficient functionality, the user friendliness and more than anything else, the Sheaffer name that the pen carries, make it a perennial favourite with the writing class and I realise that I should not be testing the patience of the readers as most know about the Segaris line which has been one of the more successful of the “modern” offerings from this pioneering fountain pen manufacturer.
The second pen to come out of Leena Shrestha-Menon’s gift box was a Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen, the Aqua to be precise. Visconti, which claims to make fountain pens that are the perfect union between beauty and uniqueness, bridging the twain of prestige and creativity, need no introduction to fountain pen lovers, firmly entrenched in the summit of desirability as they are. Suffice to say, hand crafted by master artisans, they stand head and shoulders above the crowd in terms of elegance and originality.
The Mirage series was offered to celebrate Visconti’s 30th anniversary and is marked by a nice touch of modernity in design, the writing tools disrupted by hollowed grooves, giving the feel of a Mirage, even an optical illusion. Unlike the more commonly sought-after by fountain pen connoisseurs, the Rembrandt and the Van Gogh, the Mirage has a grip section in vegetal resin. It is indeed a gorgeous piece, enough to warm the cockles of any pen enthusiast’s heart. What makes the Mirage line breath-taking is its ability to be simultaneously as intangible as air yet, be as hard as stone. In it, the absolute becomes relative, blurring the boundaries between reality and imagination imperceptible.
The Mirage collection, universally acknowledged for its unique design, has literally stretched the horizons of ingenuity shattering in the process, what was widely considered to be the “consolidated Visconti style”, opening up new vistas of creativity. What had initially seemed like an unobtainable mirage, has been transformed by the trained masters of the art into a tangible writing piece, of a class of its own.
The harmonious lines of the pen glide seamlessly between the barrel and the cap to gently taper off at both ends. The Visconti clip and stamped cap band add a layer of elegance to the overall effect, making the Visconti quest for beauty and the desire to create exclusive writing instruments unite in an explosion of originality.
Thank you Didi. By considering me worthy of your affection you have made me, as a collector of and life-long lover of fountain pens, overwhelmed with happiness. But as a brother, you have touched my heart, in a way only a sister can.
Thank You Leena Shrestha- Menon. Thank you Didi.
For More information visit: https://www.penboutique.com/