Stepping inside 15-year-old Tushar Lakhanpal’s living room is like walking into a childhood fairyland. Spread across the living room in his grandparents’ south Delhi home are the quirkiest pencils you will possibly ever see — some 14,000 of them, and counting.
Tushar has been collecting pencils since he was three. “I would watch Oswald on TV, and became inspired by his habit of collecting things. So I started hoarding pencils. When I was seven, someone told me that I could pursue it as a hobby. I have not stopped since,” he says, as he reminsces the show about the lovable octopus.
The records have not stopped either. He has been bagging the Limca record for possessing the largest collection of pencils in India since 2009 — except in 2011 when the record went to a woman.
Tushar’s pencils, colour-coded and arranged beautifully in wooden frames, take up the entire room. Among the more funky ones is a pencil that will also tell you the room temperature. Another is painted in 22 karat gold and there are two others that were once used by the Queen of England. “These two are the most expensive in my collection. We bought them at an auction for 400 pounds,” says the Class 10 student.
Some pencils in his collection are over eight feet long and some that are a mere four centimetres in length. The pencils are from more than 40 countries. While some are made of recycled paper, there are others in designer fabric and even an award-winning pencil from Japan that is disability-friendly.
Tushar’s mother Vandana, who runs a company that trains young professionals in value-based skills, is equally enthusiastic about her son’s quirky hobby and has been nurturing it ever since he began his collection. “We pick up pencils wherever we travel. We look for pencils online, in museums and at airports. Every pencil here tells you a different story,” says Vandana, showing a pencil that sports a cricket ball, which Tushar picked up during a tour of the Lord’s stadium in London. “We’ve picked up the largest number of pencils from the US. There were times when we had to pay for extra baggage when bringing some of these pencils back.”
Tushar, whose father Ashish Lakhanpal is a commercial pilot, wants to become an engineer. But that’s when he’s not gunning for the Guinness Records for the largest collection of pencils or planning to turn his collection into a museum. The record is currently held by Uruguay’s Emilio Arenas, who has more than 15,000 pencils.
“I have been aiming for the Guinness Records for a while now. I also want to build India’s first pencil museum,” beams Tushar. With more than 14,000 pencils in his collection now, it won’t be too long before that happens.