The mottled ebonite eyedropper fountain pen is as resplendent of the magnificence that Indian craftsmanship was, as perhaps the Charminar in Hyderabad and just as iconic. I refer to the Charminar and to Hyderabad for a reason – the hand turning of fountain pens was elevated to a form of fine art in the Deccan, with Hyderabad as one of the major centres of its excellence. Hyderabadi pens, were no less famous or delectable in the days of yore, than the Biryani that is still revered.
It will not be out of context to mention here that way back in 1824, a collection of Urdu poetry (Gazals), Gulzar-e-Mahlaqa, authored by Mah Laqa Bai—the first female Urdu poet to produce a Diwan, was published in Hyderabad. But alas, like the amatory poems, the famed fountain pens of Hyderabad too, are today a thing of the past, the tezaab of time having robbed them off the regal visage. Yes, the passion flame does continue to flicker, in the odd shop behind the Xerox counter, or in the hearts of master craftsmen who are today, but the shadows of the past – unheeded, unsung, unacknowledged and often unrewarded.
One such master craftsman is Prabhakar, who after having spent the last thirty-seven years with one of the leading South based pen brands has now ventured out on his own. Yes, as pen lovers in the south vouch, he was the main turner for the brand and it was his craftsmanship that had kept the brand afloat, even in those dark, pre-2015 days, before the internet driven revival in demand turned things on its head, when the fountain pen itself was given up for dead. The brand that he has founded is Woodex, though I must admit that don’t know much about the reasons behind the woody, timber-y name.
What I know for sure, is that this Deccan Dhamaka is being meticulously crafted by my friend and fellow fountain pen fanatic Shreyas Yedla. For the uninitiated, Shreyas Yedla is a banker by profession and a fountain pen connoisseur by passion, who not only has an enviable collection of India made fountain pens, but is also one of the, most vociferous exponents of the Deccan gharana of ebonite EDC turning. What is more, and I say this not because he is my friend, Shreyas Yedla does not stop at sermonising – he puts his money (and time and effort) where is mouth is, walking the talk as it were, doing everything within his means to ensure that the fountain pen get the love and affection that it deserves.
Shreyas Yedla is to be equally credited for bringing to us the beautiful Woodex pens. The ebonite is lascivious, the gait of the pens lissom, the nibs lithe and the barrel womb a languorous ink trove. The amount of time that has gone into perfecting the designs and ensuring that they are just right so that even the most finicky among the pen lovers have no reason for complaint, is just amazing. I for one was so taken aback by the lengths to which Shreyas Yedla was going to perfect the Woodex Pens, I asked him as to what is there in it for him? With his characteristic smile he had said that he was doing it all for the benefit of the community, for his love for the fountain pen, to make up for the bad blood that the self-seekers have created by assembling imported components and passing them off, at often abnormally inflated profits, by stoking the fire of misplaced nationalism and fake jingoistic bluster.
“The Woodex pens are” as one fountain pen lover put it, “in fact a slap on the face of the Jowo-Nicco-converter hegemony. Look at the pricing. Look at the finish. Look at the way the pens write – now compare them to the pens we were paying many times more, just because self-styled messiahs were playing on our love for India and forcing us to buy pens that we don’t need”. Besides, there is a certain romance of writing with an Indian ebonite pen, especially with an EDC – my personal feeling being that the ink stains on my fingers are just as much a part of the pleasure trip as the words that flow out of my pen! And yes, it is as much the Indian pen as any one else out there, more so, is one were to consider the guru-shishya parampara (tradition) that has kept the art of turning alive.
I have only one concern and will put it on record here. The Deccan Turners are notorious for their terrible after-sales service, failing in the communication department miserably. My personal experience has been terrible to put things mildly and one often gets the feeling that the sellers are actually doing you a favour by selling their pens to you. As for after sales queries, the lesser said the better – all this, if you are dogged enough to establish contacts with these sellers in the first place who, for reasons best known to them, prefer to do nothing to reach out with their ware.
Shreyas Yedla, my friend, will you make sure that Woodex does not go the established Deccan way, in terms of customer contact and support? Give us your word and I can assure you that the global Fountain Pen community will offer its unstinting support to Woodex. We will also revere you as the man who made it all possible.
Note: Woodex Pens are available in a group buy in Shreyas Yedla’s Facebook page. Please, if you want to wear your Nationalism on your sleeve, buy the pen. You can surely post your pictures with the pens and who knows, it may lead to a shift in the geo-political balance of power. But why bother, buy the pens just because they are a pleasure to write with.
|Nib Size||Length||Section||Filling System||Ink Capacity||USP||Price|
|8||160 mm||145 mm||22 mm||ED||2.5 ml||Hour Glass section||1000|
|8||150 mm||145 mm||24 mm||ED||2.5 ml||Long Section , black fenial at top and bottom||1100|
|8||160 mm||145 mm||22 mm||ED||2.5 ml||Hour Glass section||950|
|5||140 mm||130 mm||17 mm||ED||1.75 ml||Contrast section and botton||850|
|5||140 mm||125 mm||19 mm||ED||2.5 ml||Hour Glass section and steel cap||1000|
|5||110 mm||95 mm||25 mm||ED||1.75 ml||Small pen when posted becomes a mid length pen 150 mm||750|
|5||140 mm||125 mm||25 mm||ED||2.0 ml||Hour Glass section, semi matt finish||900|
An exclusive WhatsApp group has been created for the Woodex group buy. Those interested can join. The sale will start from Saturday:
WhatsApp no -9885072299
In my haste to write this article I had committed the cardinal sin of not mentioning the contribution of Raj Ahmed, pen lover per excellence and one with the largest of hearts in the fountain pen community. Raj Ahmed has been literally going out of his way to create the last mile connectivity between the collectors and the turners for many years now and there is hardly any collector who has not been a recipient of his largesse. The Woodex pens too would not have seen the light of the day without his concerted efforts. Please pardon my mistake. Apologies again.
A sincere thank you is also due to all of you from the community who pointed out this anomaly. Thank You.