Pen ramblings: The Calcutta hunt

Having grown up in the old colonial city of Calcutta (now spelled Kolkata) and having used FPs through school, it was rather sad that the FP bug had not bitten the Hipposaur earlier. Now when work has taken him a thousand miles away to Hyderabad, he claims his last visit back home was significant, since this time he went back as a 'pen nut'.

On his part, he had popped in for a 5-day visit, and went to the old academic section of the city, College Street in search of fountain pens. 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 he casually inquired about FPs, a set of pens on the glass case caught the Hipposaur's 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. Ergo, he picks it up for Rs 350 (9 US Dollars approx)

A furlong away was a no-name roadside set-up selling 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. Interesting.

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, he came across a dilapidated building at 9, Chowringhee Road. A flaky enamelled yellow signboard showed the way to The Central Pen Service Pen Hospital. That's where the Hipposaur found himself 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. He even saw some wonderful Black Chased Hard Rubber Mabie Todd Swans! Anyway, with a heavy heart he had to go. The owner told him that he could get the Hipposaur his long-coveted Parker 51 at a reasonable price in a few months' time.

Moral of the story: It only shows that one needs to only look in the right places, if only for a little enlightenment.

POST SCRIPT: The reason I rambled on till this point about the latest adventure of the Hipposaur is the fact that the Hipposaur is very persistent in sharing his experiences. To cut a long story short, I felt that it is only fair that I share it on the web, the Hipposaur was quoted as saying, while busily chewing on some glop. Anyway, 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


Sarit said...

Fuzzy wuzzy...aww, pen kinechho to...eto mon kharap keno?

Anonymous said...

I liked your blog its nice. Keep it up good work.
Anjali Sen
[SEO Kolkata]


I have been staring at Biswas pen shop since a long back, which is located just at the foot of Bankim Chandra statue, at college street junction; but not aware of his potentialities... till I have gone through this write up! Thanks to u and ur blog.I have got my long desired Parker 51 yesterday, from Mr Biswas in an excellent condition.

Dr Sovan Roy

Fully grown fuzzy Hipposaur said...

@Anjali: Thank you so much! I'm glad you like these merry distractions

@Dr Roy: I'm glad to know you found a P51. Its a grail pen for many of us here :)

Srijit Chakravarty said...

after i read this blog i went to central calcutta pen hospital... and i wa shocked to see their collection.. i bought a pelican 500 green and black barrel with a gold nib which is miraculously smooth... thanks a ton..

Fully grown fuzzy Hipposaur said...

Srijit, I'm glad this post proved useful in your pen hunt. Let Mr Raj (the owner) know of me when you go there next. If you're lucky, you could hope for a bargain :)

Ravi rajan said...

@Srijit Chakarvarty... How much did u pay for ur palikan 500.