Ohto pens are now in India, thanks to Tushar Vaghela
I met Tushar Vaghela for the first time in the Ahmedabad Pen Show – fondly christened the Global Pen Expo – in the beginning of this year. Frankly speaking, I had reached the venue not expecting much, not having known Ahmedabad as a city with a vibrant fountain pen community. But over the next couple of days, many of my pre-set notions were shattered, if only by the determined and focused event management by Tushar Vaghela and his team of sharp-shooters. For one, they had got virtually the entire fountain pen fraternity to the show – from turners, dealers, collectors, tuners to experts – that too, right after two such shows were held in quick succession in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The footfall was good, the event was widely covered in the local media and most participants claimed to have done decent business. All things considered, for an ice-breaker, the Global Pen Expo was a success.
Thus, during the peak of the Corona induced Lockdown last summer, when I heard that Tushar Vaghela had quit is cushy job to take up a new avatar as an importer of Japanese writing instruments, my interest had naturally been piqued. At that time, Ahmedabad was literally run over by the virus and one was naturally curious about the timing of the shift – surely it wasn’t the best of times to start a new venture? Surely, a locked-up population had other, more pressing concerns than buying a pen? Perhaps, the timing was a tad bit wrong? Then I remembered the old adage – that still waters run deep. Here was a supremely confident man, whose quiet demeanour was misleading to put things mildly – in fact, I won’t be surprised if Tushar Vaghela has actually used the pandemic to have silently set his pieces in place. Reports about his new venture that are tickling in, are, to put the record straight, pretty encouraging.
And why not? He has got Ohto of Japan on his side. Now a quick word about Ohto – which is not really a familiar name in these parts of the world. Apart from its Japanese origin, which almost by default ensures a certain exacting quality standard and an impossible amount of “Jiko sonchō” self-respect, Ohto is a hundred-year-old company, which was established in 1919 to manufacture dyes and inks! And what is more, in these hundred years it has pioneered a number of inventions, many of which we know about, even use regularly but do not know, were pioneered by Ohto. For example – the credit of making the first ballpoint pen in Japan goes to Ohto, which was incidentally, also the world’s first pencil shaped ballpoint pen with a chrome tip in 1949. The world’s first non-smudged ballpoint pen tip with 0.6 mm ball along with document ink was also an Ohto invention. The then revolutionary tungsten ballpoint pen with a tungsten carbide ball, another first in the world also goes to its credit, as does the ballpoint pen refill with a transparent tube. The first ball pen in the world, with water-based ink was another gift from Ohto, which had created in its wake, the brand-new category of Roller pens.
I could go on and on waxing eloquent about Ohto’s contributions which would be terribly boring for the uninitiated and would therefore draw the line. But not before I tell you that it was Ohto that was the first to introduce the rubber gripped ball point pen in the world and its name is synonymous with the textured groove grip; the ceramic roller pens with rust-free ceramic balls the fast dry gel ink rollers; the water proof / fade proof ink pens and the non-dry ceramic roller refill. The boldest free ink roller pen in the world – the Fude Ball too has come out of its laboratory and if my son and his friends have to be believed, these pens are all a rage with the youngsters these days.
In retrospect, then, Tushar Vaghela has made a real smart move – especially considering the numbers, the depth that these segments of the writing instruments market are known to represent. Congratulations! The fight with cheap knock-off’s will certainly not be an easy one, but I am sure that with his deep insight and never-say-die attitude, Tushar Vaghela will emerge victorious, with Ohto firmly ensconced in his pocket.
But to be absolutely honest, the gel and the ball pens are not really of my interest. Not even the extremely robust and highly efficient mechanical pencils from the house of Ohto. What interests me are the fountain pens that proudly carry the Ohto name.
I must confess I have never used or owned an Ohto fountain pen, though I have heard a Japanese friend talking highly about their competence and effectiveness. I believe there are quite a few lines of Ohto fountain pens and all are equally good writers – nothing fancy mind you, just drop dead efficient in terms of writing ability and built quality – pens that are decently priced.
As a matter of fact, there is one Ohto fountain pen that I rather fancy. It is the Ohto take on the traditional Japanese Long-Short pen. Not as delicate and dainty in its disposition as these pens are wont to be, but a long-short none the less. It somehow looks more “fuller” than the traditional versions (read the ubiquitous Pilots) and sports a subtle air of nonchalance about it. Truth be told, I cannot wait to lay my hand on one, try it with the reverence it deserves and love it to my collection with all the love that I have.
For more information about Ohto: https://www.ohto.co.jp/english/