Though the post seems rather topical, members can jot down any FP experiences they might have has in the proverbial "city of joy", in the words of La Pierre.
On my part, I had popped in for a 5-day visit, and thanks to fellow member bluemoon, went to the old academic section of the city, College Street. Now College Street is one of the few places in Kolkata that you find the old dilapidated Coffee House, one of the remnants of a bygone era, where waiters serve you steaming coffee and quaint Anglo-Indian fare like Baked fish and Afghani cutlets, and they take their own sweet time while at it.
Walk down the roads and you'll find shops lining the streets selling old books. Tucked away in a corner is a teeny foot-wide hole in the wall operation, quite grandly titled "College Pen Forum" Primarily selling ball points, students' stationary and assorted Parker Vectors. As I casually inquired about FPs, a set of pens on the glass case caught my attention. Lo and behold! A Pilot Non Self Filling FP, in Medium point. The pen was gorgeously smooth, with a black barrel and GP trim. Picked it up for Rs 350 (9 US Dollars approx)
As I walked down the road, a furlong away was a no-name roadside set-up of more ballpoint pens. These roadside stalls are manned by what is known in popular parlance as hawkers. Usually temporary structures, these stalls are often would up and packed away at night. Between the sheets of plastic were a bunch of boxes, (women's stockings boxes, oddly enough) The owner, Sujit Biswas carefully dusted a few boxes and came up with a bunch of Sheaffer Imperials, School pens and other 'low end' FPs. There I picked up a nice Pilot 78G look-alike cartridge filler with a fine point, which has the generic steel nib unit shared by the 78G and Prera, with visual resemblance to the 2A, except with a plastic cap. (Will post a pic soon for ID)
The last stop was at Esplanade, the veritable heart of the city, which sits close to the Hogg Market. The Hogg Market is a lovely red building housing a bustling market complex, established in 1874, inspired by European architecture. Here you can find the oldest Jewish bakery in town, Nahoum's, as well as old shops that date back a hundred years or more. In the maze of shops there lies the old Fountain Pen Hospital, now re-christened to a rather uninspiring "The Imagine". The shop had little else than a few Chinese pens on display, but they still do repairs, which is a good thing.
Further down esplanade, I came across a dilapidated building at 9, Chowringhee Road. A flaky enamelled yellow signboard showed me the way to The Central Pen Service Pen Hospital. That's where I found myself in a tight spot. Zilch on cash and drool worthy pens on display! Under the dusty glass cover were trays upon trays of old Sheaffers, Parker 45s, 61s, Pelikans. I even saw some wonderful BCHR Mabie Todd Swans! Anyway, with a heavy heart I had to go. The owner told me that he could get me my long-coveted Parker 51 at a reasonable price in a few months' time.
The reason I rambled on till this point is the fact that I simply had to share my experiences. It only shows that one needs to only look in the right places, if only for a little enlightenment. I did not have my camera with me, so I could not document the journey the way I would have liked it to. Moreover, since I don't live in Kolkata anymore, it will be another 6 months till I get there again.
To cut a long story short, I felt that it is only fair that I share it on the 'Network. Next time you go visiting Kolkata, do check these places out.
The contact numbers are as follows, in case any one is interested:
College Pen Forum, 54/9 College Street. Phone +91 9831940073
Biswas Pen Stall, near the aforementioned, Phone +91 9836168184
Central Pen Service Pen Hospital, 8 Chowringhee Road, 091-033-22288374
Edited for typos.
Edited by rahulg, 12 January 2009 - 08:11.