The good old fountain pen that people laid to rest in their heads long ago may well be on its way to regaining at least some of its lost glory across the globe, thanks to reasonably priced fine writing instruments made in India.
An American citizen, on his business trips to India, realised Indians had good handwriting and it was the result of great penmanship. A quest to improve his own handwriting, which he describes as "chicken scratch", led him to discover the affordable fountain pens manufactured in India.
The answer for a good longhand, for Kevin Themann, lay in the fountain pen. Also, in what the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who apparently had terrible handwriting, said about "bad handwriting" being "a sign of imperfect education".
Themann was parked at an online pen networkers' forum when someone asked him the inevitable - about the Indian fountain pen.
"I received a message from a fellow member asking me if I had run across any of the Indian models. I didn't know such a thing existed but the question made me curious. So began my hunt for Indian-made fountain pens," writes Themann on his website fountainpenrevolution.com, which has hues of the tricolour on its masthead and is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.
Soon enough Themann was on a buying spree -- for himself and for his friends in the US and also collectors -- for affordable Indian pens, which he claims were being manufactured in India to promote good handwriting.
"So began my hunt for Indian-made fountain pens. In the course of the journey I have learned much about India's long history of affordable and useable fountain pen manufacture and of Gandhi's story, which is shared on the homepage. Not only did I begin buying these pens for myself, but I also took a bunch home to the US and began marketing them to US collectors. Thus began our quest to make these hard to find pens more available to the world market," he wrote.
Themann's first exclusive Fountain Pen Revolution Pen is called 'Dilli'.
"Dilli is the local pronunciation of Delhi, India, a city close to our heart. The Dilli is a beautifully built piston filled pen with translucent body and cap. It comes in fine, medium, flex and fine stub nib options," reads the description of the pen that adorns his homepage.
Dilli is priced between USD 15 and USD 18 depending on the model and colour.
Pens manufactured by Deccan Pen Company of Hyderabad, who specialise in making handmade pens since 1920s, Guilder Pen Company of Rajahmundry, Lazor Hero Pen of Calcutta, Hamraj Max Pens of Varanasi and the Oliver Pen series of Chennai are all up for sale on Themann's website.
Themann also has expertise in restoring vintage pens, mostly Parkers. A few beauties such as a Mabie Todd Swan Fountain Pen, which he restored, too are offered for sale on the website.
Themann's company that started in 2011 is family owned and operated. "My sons and I sit at the kitchen table and clean, inspect, and maintenance every pen we sell. Our passion at FPR is to provide reasonably priced quality fountain pens made in India and to be a blessing to our community," he wrote.
A percentage of profits are invested back into the communities where the pens are made. "We believe in old-fashioned honest business practices, good family fun, and that we should give to those around us in need," he added.
Themann laid to rest the myth that fountain pens are just for the rich and older generations.
"By offering quality products at a very reasonable price with personal service we hope to spread the joy of fountain pens to a new generation of writers. Join the Revolution!" One prominent fountain pen user in India - author-journalist Khushwant Singh, who gifts himself a pen on his birthdays and bought a new pen before starting every new book - would surely endorse the love for longhand in the age of electronic mails.