Pen Mahotsav – the first fountain pen show in the east is all set to set the high watermark, create the occasion penophiles were waiting for.
Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune – after every pen show, we fountain pen lovers from the east vowed to hold the “mother of all pen shows” in Kolkata, had our coffee, indulged in endless rounds of useless chit-chats and moved on. The Kolkata Pen Show, never happened.
Yes, there was the intervening period of lockdown. Yes, Corona had snatched two precious years away from us. Yes, we are predominantly from the collecting side as opposed to the dealing / selling side and therefore, perhaps less adventurous when compared to our cousins from the western shore, but still, the fact remained. It is now more than three years since Mumbai organised the first fountain pen show, and still, we couldn’t organise ours.
“Kolkata is the only place in India where we see so many people carrying pens in their pockets” people in the trade would remind us with unwavering monotony. We too would enter into the conversation with the emotional alacrity for which we are known (and often derided) as a people: “Kolkata was the very centre of the fountain pen trade during the British Raj”, throwing in morsels about our pride in being culturally the most vibrant. But when they asked the next logical question, enquiring as to why we are not organising a pen show of our own, we would be stumped.
We would go back to our respective groups. Hold a coffee meet. Try to ensure that the proposed committees had enough people to further our personal agendas. Collect the Adhaar Card and Income Tax details in triplicate. And continue to pass the buck by seeking to hide our incompetence behind faux interest. Why did we fail? Simple, there was no one, and yes, that includes me, who was willing to pick up the gauntlet, to walk the talk. Besides, there was no son-of-the-soil brand to throw its weight behind such an initiative.
But hopefully all that is in the past now as the dates have been announced for Kolkata’s 1st Fountain Pen Show – the Pen Mahotsav. Sayak Adhya, scion of the age-old stationery establishment Bharati Stores has joined hands with Rahul Gupta, dealer in antique and vintage pens, to organise the Pen Mahotsav between the 15th and the 17th of April, 2022 at the ICCR, (off Camac Street at Ho Chi Minh Sarani opposite the US Embassy). As for the son-of-the-soil brand throwing its weight behind the initiative, Sayak Adhya and Rahul Gupta have got Sulekha Inks, which started as a manufacturer of Swadeshi Ink for use by none other than Mahatma Gandhi, which is now making a comeback after a three-decade hiatus, committing its full support. The event is being organised by Kisalay Events and Advertisement.
They couldn’t have chosen a better venue for the Pen Mahotsav – located as it is bang in the centre of the city, easily accessible both by metro and other forms of public transport. Besides, ICCR undoubtedly has that culturally Brahmanical snob value. They couldn’t have chosen a better timing – the show coincides with the Bengali New Year, when the locals are traditionally oriented to spend as a means of ushering in prosperity. They couldn’t have chosen a better place – the pen sellers, locked in as they were, are all dying to get out and interact (read transact?) with the buyers, eager to access the key market of Kolkata, which to many is still the gateway to the east – of India and the neighbouring markets in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. If you ask me, if initial trends are to be believed, in terms of sheer footfalls, the Pen Mahotsav is all set to establish new records, Covid protocols notwithstanding.
The organisers of the Pen Mahotsav are talking of a mere twenty-five tables, all of which have already been sold-out. What is striking, is the almost throw-away price at which the tables have been booked. When I broached the subject with Sayak Adhya, he was categorical, “the sellers have been through an extremely difficult time in the last couple of years and as a member of the community, I have deliberately kept the cost per table at the lowest, so that they may have the opportunity of maximising their return on the investment at the Pen Mahotsav. I will also hope that they will pass a part of the benefit to the buyers – the pen lovers of Kolkata”.
Bharati Stores, the biggest single point sales outlet for fountain pens, inks and accessories has already got on board the biggest names in the trade committing their presence and active participation in the Pen Mahotsav. Same is the case with the dealers of antique and vintage pens and accessories, while Sulekha is expected to mark the occasion with a number of new launches.
Watch this place. We will keep you posted.
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