Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies


Registration on the Fountain Pen Network

Dearest Visitor of the little Fountain Pen Nut house on the digital prairie,

Due to the enormous influx of spammers, it is no longer possible to handle valditions in the traditional way. For registrations we therefore kindly and respectfully request you to send an email with your request to our especially created email address. This email address is register at fountainpennetwork dot com. Please include your desired user name, and after validation we will send you a return email containing the validation key, normally wiithin a week.

Thank you very much in advance!
The FPN Admin Team






Photo

Indian Pen Odyssey 6: Indore And Bhopal

india

  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1 amk

amk

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,051 posts
  • Location:Norwich, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 29 July 2013 - 08:06

The Rough Guide gives both Bhopal (nice museums, boring city) and Indore (nice market, boring city) a poor write-up, but since these two cities are the transport hubs for western Madhya Pradesh, they're unavoidable. And Indian transport being what it is, that means you're inevitably going to be spending a few hours there, either sitting around the bus stand, sitting at the railway station, walking between bus stand and railway station, or, if you have any sense, putting the bags in the cloakroom and doing something else. Me being me, the 'something else' included fountain pens.

 

At Bhopal, I dumped the bags in the bus operator's office and headed out to New Market, instead of waiting for the 0230 for Pachmarhi.

 

"Take the red city bus," they said, and after a couple of attempts to get on a bus that was going somewhere else, I finally caught the right one; not just 'right' in the sense of going to New Market, but also because it had a friendly bus conductor. As always, the maps in the Rough Guide were totally inadequate to navigating a major city, but I was set down exactly where I wanted; outside a row of bookshops.

 

Hm. One problem; these were hard core book shops. No fountain pens.

 

I then enquired where I might find a stationery store.

 

"Backside," came the answer.

 

(This is not rudery. It's the way Indian English speakers say "round the back.")

 

"Backside" turned out to be full of sweet shops, ice cream parlours, and bright lights. Not a pen shop in sight. I'd just stopped to take my bearings when someone tapped me on the shoulder.

 

"Excuse me. You are looking for a stationery shop?"

 

I must have looked surprised, because the young man then said; "I was in the bookshop and I heard you asking. I can show you, if you like."

 

He did. It wasn't much further; two blocks of small alleys further on, and to the right, were a whole bunch of pen shops and graphics arts stores.

 

I'd like to say this young man had found me really fascinating shops with obscure fountain pen brands I'd never heard of, or ridiculously cheap vintage pens. But what I saw were mainly Parker Frontiers (for some reason the Vector, popular everywhere else in India, didn't seem to be selling in Bhopal) and Camlin Elegantes. The Elegante stands up pretty well in terms of quality and design against the Parkers; but of course it doesn't have the cachet of an import brand. Still, I filled up on ink, and got a couple of cheap pens.

 

The student was still with me, and he'd noticed my interest in the sweet shops. Well, he said when I asked about them, they were all very well, but if I wanted a really good kulfi, he knew the right place and it was somewhere around here.

 

I'm very fond of kulfi. It's ice cream, but unlike western ice cream, it's made with milk that has been boiled very slowly to reduce it and condense it, and that caramelises slightly in the process.

I had begun to get a little concerned when we started to wander a little away from the bright lights of the main market. I got a little more anxious when I realised he was leading me to a tiny alleyway behind a row of shops – the backside of the backside, as it were.

 

Then I heard an ominous noise; a sort of slush, slush, slush, with a rattle underneath, like an octopus walking on gravel.

 

There in the alleyway were two men; one sitting at a table with a cash box, and one sitting on the floor, with a huge pot in front of him, rocking it slowly backwards and forwards. It was from this pot that the slushy swishy sounds were emanating.

 

An order was quickly made. The pot stopped its slushing, the cloth stopper was removed from its neck, a small tin was taken out and handed to Mr Cashbox, and the cloth stopper was put back. The pot resumed its slushing. The top of the tin was levered off, and a criss-cross cut made with a blunt table knife in the brown mixture inside. Two sticks were shoved into the mix, and the rough quadrant lollipops pulled out. Money changed hands; not a lot of money, twenty rupees to be precise, and that was for both of us.

 

And then I started to eat the best kulfi I had ever had. Slightly salty, deeply caramelly, so sweet I could hear the spirits of long dead dentists screaming at me to stop.

 

My student friend had a mission to accomplish, so I said goodbye, and wandered round the market a little more, taking a few photos, before finding my way to a bus stop to retrace my way to the bus stand. Just by the bus stop, though, was a book shop, and I can never resist window shopping; and there in the window were a load of pens. Of course I went in. The shop had the biggest selection of Baoers I'd ever seen. It also held one incredibly pleased young Indian student – he hadn't thought I'd turn up here! He had to go and wrap the presents he'd just bought for his baby niece, but promised to turn up at the bus stand when he'd finished.

It was a night of coincidences. I don't normally expect to get on a bus in a strange city and be treated as if I'm a celebrity. It was, of course, the friendly bus conductor again. Bad maps, poor Hindi, rather better but not perfect English, and the vocal and enthusiastic participation of half the bus in wayfinding notwithstanding, I was deposited just where I needed to go.

 

Or so I thought, until the lights petered out and I realised I was walking up a nearly dark road between furniture and tile shops and plumbers' merchants. Still, there were lights up ahead. The first sign of civilisation was the sudden efflorescence of sewing machine shops, where I got the sales staff to pose for a photo; 2,000 rupees gets you a foot powered machine, a Singar, Rita or Brother, resplendent with Victorian-style gilded nameplates and ornament. Through streets lined with sari shops and juice joints, past floodlit but deserted mosques, I found my way eventually to Pen Corner (https://maps.google....=h&z=16&iwloc=A), a huge advertisement painted above. But the fountain pens were across the road; some nice pens, mainly Wality, and lovely, cheap two-ended marbled ebonite (or "wood" as everyone says) ballpens. I bought a few, then headed along the road.

 

The Rough Guide gives both Bhopal (nice museums, boring city) and Indore (nice market, boring city) a poor write-up, but since these two cities are the transport hubs for western Madhya Pradesh, they're unavoidable. And Indian transport being what it is, that means you're inevitably going to be spending a few hours there, either sitting around the bus stand, sitting at the railway station, walking between bus stand and railway station, or, if you have any sense, putting the bags in the cloakroom and doing something else. Me being me, the 'something else' included fountain pens.

At Bhopal, I dumped the bags in the bus operator's office and headed out to New Market, instead of waiting for the 0230 for Pachmarhi.

"Take the red city bus," they said, and after a couple of attempts to get on a bus that was going somewhere else, I finally caught the right one; not just 'right' in the sense of going to New Market, but also because it had a friendly bus conductor. As always, the maps in the Rough Guide were totally inadequate to navigating a major city, but I was set down exactly where I wanted; outside a row of bookshops.

Hm. One problem; these were hard core book shops. No fountain pens.

I then enquired where I might find a stationery store.

"Backside," came the answer.

(This is not rudery. It's the way Indian English speakers say "round the back.")

"Backside" turned out to be full of sweet shops, ice cream parlours, and bright lights. Not a pen shop in sight. I'd just stopped to take my bearings when someone tapped me on the shoulder.

"Excuse me. You are looking for a stationery shop?"

I must have looked surprised, because the young man then said; "I was in the bookshop and I heard you asking. I can show you, if you like."

He did. It wasn't much further; two blocks of small alleys further on, and to the right, were a whole bunch of pen shops and graphics arts stores.

I'd like to say this young man had found me really fascinating shops with obscure fountain pen brands I'd never heard of, or ridiculously cheap vintage pens. But what I saw were mainly Parker Frontiers (for some reason the Vector, popular everywhere else in India, didn't seem to be selling in Bhopal) and Camlin Elegantes. The Elegante stands up pretty well in terms of quality and design against the Parkers; but of course it doesn't have the cachet of an import brand. Still, I filled up on ink, and got a couple of cheap pens.

The student was still with me, and he'd noticed my interest in the sweet shops. Well, he said when I asked about them, they were all very well, but if I wanted a really good kulfi, he knew the right place and it was somewhere around here.

I'm very fond of kulfi. It's ice cream, but unlike western ice cream, it's made with milk that has been boiled very slowly to reduce it and condense it, and that caramelises slightly in the process.

I had begun to get a little concerned when we started to wander a little away from the bright lights of the main market. I got a little more anxious when I realised he was leading me to a tiny alleyway behind a row of shops – the backside of the backside, as it were.

Then I heard an ominous noise; a sort of slush, slush, slush, with a rattle underneath, like an octopus walking on gravel.

There in the alleyway were two men; one sitting at a table with a cash box, and one sitting on the floor, with a huge pot in front of him, rocking it slowly backwards and forwards. It was from this pot that the slushy swishy sounds were emanating.

An order was quickly made. The pot stopped its slushing, the cloth stopper was removed from its neck, a small tin was taken out and handed to Mr Cashbox, and the cloth stopper was put back. The pot resumed its slushing. The top of the tin was levered off, and a criss-cross cut made with a blunt table knife in the brown mixture inside. Two sticks were shoved into the mix, and the rough quadrant lollipops pulled out. Money changed hands; not a lot of money, twenty rupees to be precise, and that was for both of us.

And then I started to eat the best kulfi I had ever had. Slightly salty, deeply caramelly, so sweet I could hear the spirits of long dead dentists screaming at me to stop.

My student friend had a mission to accomplish, so I said goodbye, and wandered round the market a little more, taking a few photos, before finding my way to a bus stop to retrace my way to the bus stand. Just by the bus stop, though, was a book shop, and I can never resist window shopping; and there in the window were a load of pens. Of course I went in. The shop had the biggest selection of Baoers I'd ever seen. It also held one incredibly pleased young Indian student – he hadn't thought I'd turn up here! He had to go and wrap the presents he'd just bought for his baby niece, but promised to turn up at the bus stand when he'd finished.

It was a night of coincidences. I don't normally expect to get on a bus in a strange city and be treated as if I'm a celebrity. It was, of course, the friendly bus conductor again. Bad maps, poor Hindi, rather better but not perfect English, and the vocal and enthusiastic participation of half the bus in wayfinding notwithstanding, I was deposited just where I needed to go.

Or so I thought, until the lights petered out and I realised I was walking up a nearly dark road between furniture and tile shops and plumbers' merchants. Still, there were lights up ahead. The first sign of civilisation was the sudden efflorescence of sewing machine shops, where I got the sales staff to pose for a photo; 2,000 rupees gets you a foot powered machine, a Singar, Rita or Brother, resplendent with Victorian-style gilded nameplates and ornament. Through streets lined with sari shops and juice joints, past floodlit but deserted mosques, I found my way eventually to Pen Corner (https://maps.google....=h&z=16&iwloc=A), a huge advertisement painted above. But the fountain pens were across the road; some nice pens, mainly Wality, and lovely, cheap two-ended marbled ebonite (or "wood" as everyone says) ballpens. I bought a few, then headed along the road. None of the other shops had anything particularly interesting, but on my way back I saw a graphics shop which did have a nice Hero flighter, as well as two horrible Parker 61 copies in 'gold' chased metal (corroded and crumbly – really nasty), and strangely enough a lot of model windmills.

"Do they all work?" I asked.

"Oh yes," replied the chap who had just taken my money. "Watch this."

He grabbed some electrical spaghetti from under one of the wind turbines, touched two leads together, and the turbine blades began to spin. Lights flashed. A moment of mad happiness. This is India!

I managed to find my way back to the bus stand - and yes, the student turned up at the bus station and ate dinner with me, and kept me entertained till the bus finally arrived at two in the morning.

In Indore, I had rather less adventure, just as much fun, and another unexpected surprise. After visiting the mirrored interiors of the Kanch Mandir (and spotting several Jain pilgrim sites I'd visited in the tiled pictures), and wandering the textile markets, I found a a whole street of stationers and pen shops just up MG Road from the Rajwada. Most had the 'usual' selection of Parkers and cheapies. But one, which had an extensive selection of the dreaded Pierre Cardin, also had a lovely Indian pen, branded 'Oliver'; a large (15cm length) green and brown marbled acrylic pen, with 'gold' trim – two metal tassies, fluted clip, and a 2.5 cm wide cap band. I liked the honesty of the nib, which says 'Oliver 100% steel', and the stripy ink window, which exactly reflects the cap band in its length. It's a pen of distinction, quite a heavy pen, and though there are a few little details overlooked in the finish (the couple of tabs of plastic left at the edge of the cap), it was a bargain at 200 rupees.

As I wandered down the road I saw a little dark door opening into a temple courtyard. How could I resist? Inside, though, it felt like the lobby of an exclusive hotel; the bustle, the mess, the noise of most Indian temples was absent. Lush pot plants' leaves shivered gently as slow bhajans played; the courtyard was almost dark, but fine bronzes of Shiva and Parvati gleamed in niches lit by soft yellowish lamps; in one corner, the shrine itself was brightly lit.

This was the family shrine of the Holkars, rulers of Indore for two hundred years, builders of the impressive Rajwada. It breathed history. And it was just six years old, rebuilt after a fire that gutted the palace in 1984. I would never have found it if I hadn't been looking for pens.

Collecting fountain pens is a habit that amuses some of my friends and infuriates others. Like any other collecting habit, it can be borderline obsessive-compulsive, and highly nerdy. But over and over again, looking for pens showed me an India I wouldn't have found from the guidebooks – the India of small businesses, the India that students know, the backstreets India that never fails to fascinate me – and led me to the most surprising sights. I have a lot to be grateful for.

 

None of the other shops had anything particularly interesting, but on my way back I saw a graphics shop which did have a nice Hero flighter, as well as two horrible Parker 61 copies in 'gold' chased metal (corroded and crumbly – really nasty), and strangely enough a lot of model windmills.

 

"Do they all work?" I asked.

 

"Oh yes," replied the chap who had just taken my money. "Watch this."

 

He grabbed some electrical spaghetti from under one of the wind turbines, touched two leads together, and the turbine blades began to spin. Lights flashed. A moment of mad happiness. This is India!

 

I managed to find my way back to the bus stand - and yes, the student turned up at the bus station and ate dinner with me, and kept me entertained till the bus finally arrived at two in the morning.

 

In Indore, I had rather less adventure, just as much fun, and another unexpected surprise. After visiting the mirrored interiors of the Kanch Mandir (and spotting several Jain pilgrim sites I'd visited in the tiled pictures), and wandering the textile markets, I found a a whole street of stationers and pen shops just up MG Road from the Rajwada. Most had the 'usual' selection of Parkers and cheapies. But one, which had an extensive selection of the dreaded Pierre Cardin, also had a lovely Indian pen, branded 'Oliver'; a large (15cm length) green and brown marbled acrylic pen, with 'gold' trim – two metal tassies, fluted clip, and a 2.5 cm wide cap band. I liked the honesty of the nib, which says 'Oliver 100% steel', and the stripy ink window, which exactly reflects the cap band in its length. It's a pen of distinction, quite a heavy pen, and though there are a few little details overlooked in the finish (the couple of tabs of plastic left at the edge of the cap), it was a bargain at just over 100 rupees, if I remember rightly.

 

As I wandered down the road I saw a little dark door opening into a temple courtyard. How could I resist? Inside, though, it felt like the lobby of an exclusive hotel; the bustle, the mess, the noise of most Indian temples was absent. Lush pot plants' leaves shivered gently as slow bhajans played; the courtyard was almost dark, but fine bronzes of Shiva and Parvati gleamed in niches lit by soft yellowish lamps; in one corner, the shrine itself was brightly lit.

 

This was the family shrine of the Holkars, rulers of Indore for two hundred years, builders of the impressive Rajwada. It breathed history. And it was just six years old, rebuilt after a fire that gutted the palace in 1984. I would never have found it if I hadn't been looking for pens.

 

Collecting fountain pens is a habit that amuses some of my friends and infuriates others. Like any other collecting habit, it can be borderline obsessive-compulsive, and highly nerdy. But over and over again, looking for pens showed me an India I wouldn't have found from the guidebooks – the India of small businesses, the India that students know, the backstreets India that never fails to fascinate me – and led me to the most surprising sights. I have a lot to be grateful for.

 


Too many pens, too little time!

http://fountainpenlove.blogspot.fr/


Sponsored Content

#2 hari317

hari317

    Classic

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14,894 posts
  • Location:Mumbai, INDIA
  • Flag:

Posted 29 July 2013 - 15:36

Very interesting.


In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

#3 mohan

mohan

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 314 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 30 July 2013 - 09:51

Thanks amk. Have you bought that acrylic oliver?

#4 Seele

Seele

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,126 posts
  • Location:Sydney
  • Flag:

Posted 30 July 2013 - 15:02

Thanks for your travelogue! I cannot find any mention of fountain pens at Oliver's website now, so if I were you I'd be quite keen on getting Oliver fountain pens.


No, I am not going to list my pens here.

#5 amk

amk

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,051 posts
  • Location:Norwich, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 30 July 2013 - 22:07

Oh dear! I only got the one Oliver, and very nice it is - solid, well made, attractive, but there were no other Oliver models in the shop where I bought it.


Too many pens, too little time!

http://fountainpenlove.blogspot.fr/


#6 Seele

Seele

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,126 posts
  • Location:Sydney
  • Flag:

Posted 31 July 2013 - 05:18

The "Nikita" pen was actually a bog standard Oliver, the Oliver original version seems a bit tricky to track down.


No, I am not going to list my pens here.

#7 amk

amk

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,051 posts
  • Location:Norwich, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 01 August 2013 - 07:18

Amazing! This Recife fountain pen on eBay looks exactly like my Oliver. I suppose we can guess who is the subcontractor?

 

http://www.ebay.co.u...=item27d48e5772


Too many pens, too little time!

http://fountainpenlove.blogspot.fr/






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: india



Sponsored Content




|