Yusuf Mansoor giving final touches to his line of boutique FP cases in finest leather, fit to encase your treasured possessions!
Every once in a while, life delivers one of those “unplayable” deliveries and all one can do, is look at the dishevelled stumps in disbelief, before walking back to the pavilion. No big deal in that. But when the bowler breaks through one’s defence of nonchalance and bowls one with kindness, one not only salute the mastery of his craft, but also feels proud to have featured in the same time and space with, to have played in the same match.
Yusuf Mansoor shattered my stumps with such a googly (or was that a yorker?) the other day, when, like a bolt from the blue, he announced in the social media that he has chosen to honour me for what he termed as my “contribution to the fountain pen community”. Well, I for one do not think that I have made any great contribution to the community – I have just tried to mix my passion for the pen and my love for writing together, enjoying every word and every moment in the process. But it is always a pleasure when the community appreciates what one does, especially when a community elder like Yusuf Mansoor pats one on the back – or breaks your stumps, continuing with the analogy. I am well and truly… bowled.
What adds to the pleasure is the gift that Yusuf Mansoor has chosen to honour me with – a twelve pen carry case, made of the softest calf leather, a home and hearth for my prized possessions.
The pen case is beautifully designed – spacious enough to carry the big guns in my arsenal but compact enough to snuggle into my palm. And why not? The bag has been designed personally by none other than the master collector, pen restoration wizard and keeper of the faith – Yusuf Mansoor. “I was dismayed when I did not find the exact kind of carry cases that I wanted for my pens” he said, when I had asked him as to why he was planning to launch his signature line. “The imported, branded ones that were, and still are, available in the net, too expensive, apart from forcing one into a very cumbersome process of foreign trade. The ready ones that are otherwise easily available, are either not the right type or have quality issues, which had forced me to design and get my cases tailor made. Naturally I did not compromise on the quality and though the single pieces that I had made worked out to be fairly expensive, the number of people who were willing to get similar pieces made, even at the steep prices each had come at, had really taken me by surprise. I had gone back to the company that had made my carry cases and given them bulk orders, which brought the prices down substantially – and here you are”.
Well, that was easier said than done, for the entire process has taken almost three years and Yusuf Mansoor has had to make innumerable commutes between Patna, where he is based and Kolkata, where the bags have been created. But like they say, all’s well, that ends well. For the bags have really come out extremely well.
The material is as soft as a caress. The cut razor’s edge and the stitching as flawless as it gets. As for the design, what can a mere mortal like me comment on the designs of those who dwell above me? In all, I think, and I am definitely not saying this as I have received the pouch as a gift, the pen case is a clear winner. I for one, will certainly buy if Yusuf Mansoor comes out with a Leather file / folder type of a case where I can carry more pens. A case in which I can carry a note book is also one I would love to buy, as is a holster type case for carrying three to five pens that can be worn in the trouser belt.
In parting, I have two observations about the case in point (no pun intended). For one, it would have been even better if it had come with a contraption to hold it – like a flap to slip one’s fingers through, or a small strap. And secondly, I wish I knew how much the bag costs – it is gifting season and one would have loved to acquire some, for dear friends who I am sure, would love the pen case as much as I do. But then again, one should never see a gift horse in the mouth, and however much I want to, I just cannot get myself to ask him the price of a gift that he has bestowed upon me with such magnanimity.
It will be sometime before the entire range is available for the connoisseurs to sample according to Yusuf Mansoor. And he is also planning to create his own ecommerce space so that his creations may seamlessly reach the faithful. Well, I for one can’t wait.
Note: Unfortunately the other recipient from Kolkata could not make it to collect the award. I have collected that as well and will hand it over as soon as possible. Samit Dutta handed over the prize on behalf of Yusuf Mansoor,