I visited Mr. Rao yesterday, along with my son and brother-in-law. We drove down a distance of about 200KM to Rajahmundhri from Vishakapatnam, which is where my in-laws stay. I had contacted him earlier and asked him for a suitable time to visit. The shop itself is located in a crowded part of the town, very close to the Godavari.
We received a warm welcome and Mr. Rao told us that we could look around at the back where one of his workshops is located. We watched an employee making pens on a lathe. He let my son, who is 11 and very interested in fountain pens, look at the raw materials and half finished pen parts. He also showed how each of the parts were made. We saw several Onyxes in green rippled ebonite and acrylic being made.
Mr. Rao then meticulously showed us all the models he had in stock and also some of the antique pens he had from long back. One of the pens he showed was a silver plated pen with a gold conical nib which was dated 1948. He also showed the biggest (18in long) which is a two sided pen and looks more like a police baton, to the smallest, which is about an inch and a half in length. He also narrated the history of the business started by his father. His assistant brought out a couple of cardboard boxes the size of shoe boxes filled with pen parts, some of them really, really old. He also generously fixed a pen with a German nib unit, which I had presented to my father-in-law some months back, and which was was suffering from flow problems.
I made a selection of several pens for myself, son and friends and was about to leave when Mr. Rao stopped us asked where we thought we were going! It was lunchtime and he demanded we have lunch with him. He took my son along with him and went shopping for things to take back home to Vizag, and to give my son a tour of the famous Godavari river and the one-time longest bridge in Asia. He then proceeded to take us upstairs to his home where his wife, while taking care of their 2 year old grandson, served us a lavish and hearty lunch. Only then were we allowed to depart! I have never met such a generous person like Mr. Rao, who would open up so wonderfully to strangers. I shall remember this visit for a long time.