Pen-chant

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By Papri Das

There was a time when a good quality pen would symbolise knowledge, affluence and empowerment; when youngsters would be a ball of excitement on receiving their first fountain pen; when revolutionary ideas would be penned down to change history of nations. Now it would be safe to say that the “once mightier than the sword” pen couldn’t survive the onslaught of the digital era and the keys on your device’s touchpad.

Or is it?

A recent report from The Economic Times read that more and more foreign luxury pen brands are finding India to be a booming market place for their products. While the use of regular pens may have gone down drastically, high-end luxury pens still continue to enjoy high esteem amongst the affluent and the well-established lot. Pens have evolved from being a practical necessity to a connoisseur’s luxury. Exec Lifestyle spoke to several eminent personalities from the media to explore their romance with pens.

Although a very cliché practice, but any discussion about writing instruments almost always starts with a writer, and so Exec Lifestyle caught up with television screenplay writer and author Gajra Kottary. “Writing with pen has more of an emotional value to me these days. I used pen and paper till I was writing the script for Astitva, one of the daily television shows I have worked on,” says the charming author who has also penned the television show Ghar Ek Sapnaa. Admitting the difficulties she faced in switching to the digital platforms, Kottary says that things have changed drastically for her. “I can't write the same amount of content with a pen, which I do digitally. Quite the irony, isn't it?”

Kottary’s collection of luxury pens is in double digits now. “I have gathered so many of them that these days I have to request people not to gift me pens anymore cause it is a shame to see them simply showcased in a shelf,” she says.

Amongst the collection, one that is close to her heart is classy ST Dupont pen. “I have over ten luxury pens ranging between Montblancs, Cartier and more, but my favourite is a Shantung from ST Dupont. It has an amazing design and a beautiful blue color. What adds to my emotional connect to it is the fact that my husband gifted it to me on one of our anniversaries,” she reminisces.

Kottary isn’t the only own who invests special sentiments in a pen. Ogilvy and Mather executive creative director Sumanto Chattapadhyay shares how he cherished the Montblanc his parents gifted him. “When I was in school, my parents gifted me a Montblanc pen. In those days, it was a big deal to be able to afford a branded pen like that so it was a memorable instance in my life. I remember holding it close to my heart through my college, until one fateful day it got stolen. I was really upset by its loss,” says the creative genius, who also made an appearance in the recently released Piku.

Perhaps it is this loss, or his habit of misplacing pens in general, that keeps him from using luxury pens on a day-to-day basis. Instead he invests in the cheaper ones and buys them in bulk, while preserving the special edition ones. “Someone recently gifted me a calligraphy pen or a quill, which needs to be dipped in an ink pot to use,” gushes Chattopadhyay. “But when it comes to writing on a day to day basis, I honestly prefer the use and throw dot pens.”

This formula resonates well with most executives. BBH India CEO Subhash Kamath admits that he too shies away from using his luxury pens and instead goes in the ‘use and throw’ direction. “Yes I have quite a few Montblancs, Waterman and Sheaffer (courtesy gifts) but I hardly ever use them. I prefer using my regular Camlin or Add Gel pens for everyday use,” he says.

While many consider possessing a classy luxury pen as a sign of status, for many is gives a sense of empowerment. A fine example is Sonic and Nickelodeon India executive vice president Nina Jaipuria. “A pen gives me a strange sense of empowerment. Compared to a digital signature, when it comes to signing to officialise a document, pens are the first and last choice. It gives you a certain sense of power. A single sign can make a huge difference in your or another's life,” says the lady.

Like any other established creative professional Jaipuria too had her fair share of luxury pens gifted to her on various occasions. However, the one that stands out is the very personalised gift she received a couple of years back. “I am particularly fond of this pen, which was gifted to me by a close associate of mine a couple of years back. It is carved out of wood completely with a non-refillable gel ink in it. What makes it more special is that not just the case but the pen too bears my name,” she says adding further that she takes care not to use it too often. “I make sure to use it judiciary, fearing that the pen will run out of the ink, at the same time not to keep it in the box too long as the ink may end up drying.”

These were a few anecdotes from India’s top media executives on their love for good luxury pens. What is your pen story? Do share with us on the comment box below.

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