Product Review: Guider Medium Ebonite Handmade Pen

I had always wanted to write with an ink pen. More so, a handmade pen. After all, anything handmade is, more often, made with a little bit of extra care. My search, as of now at least, has concluded with something that fits my pocket, budget, and requirements. It is the Medium Ebonite Handmade pen from Guider Pen Works that I am talking about. Let’s delve.

Built and Construction

The pen seems built solidly. It’s just one single piece of ebonite, crafted like a cigar with a difference that the cap is a bit larger than the body.

The top finial is crowned to extrude out of the clip. Fashion is subjective, and so is the way this pen is crafted, for it looks a lot like the Montblanc Meisterstuck. But that’s not important, anyway. This pen looks like it will age well.

The pen comes with a butter-smooth nib (spoiler alert) and a Schmidt international converter. I had seen them ship an extra nib, but I guess that’s applicable for only ED pens. Mine came with a German nib unit, which is costly. And I am more than happy with what I got.

Here are a few specifications of the pen:

  • Length of the pen (closed) – 144 mm
  • Length of the pen (open and unposted) – 127 mm (including the nib)
  • Length of the Grip Section – 18 mm

The best part is that the threads on the section are unobtrusive. If anything, they help you grip better. The pen opens in about 3 and a half turns, which isn’t bothersome either.

Nib and Nibbling

A better part of describing a pen should be about how it performs. And, we could hardly keep ourselves from talking about such great nibs. Yet, when Mr. G Laksham Rao told me that all his pens in the ebonite series came with German nibs, it lent the required food for thought. What is the use of “food for thought” if it doesn’t make you hungry to explore any further?

For such reasons, I got myself a Schmidt #6 in Broad (update: Lakshman Garu told me later that it is #5 and not #6). The nib is sufficiently wet and transfers words effortlessly on paper as it glides smoothly as a hot knife glides through butter. The nib is so smooth that it demands me to write faster. In my case, it yearned for me to nibble bites from my thoughts one after another. I wrote five long pages of nonsense the moment I picked and unscrewed the pen.

The feed is plastic. And until you reach the break-in stage for this pen, which should be as early as a couple refills, the pen will tend to skip a bit. But then it could also be because of the combination of the thirsty Broad nib, the plastic feed, and the quick-drying Parker Quink.

If you want, you can order the nib unit separately and interchange it easily by unscrewing the old one and replacing it with the new one.

The Right and the Write

The pen is a lightweight champion. Even though it is front-heavy, the weight appears to be balanced evenly throughout the section and the barrel. It is also that the weight is just right enough for you to not bother about pressing down for the ink to flow: the pen writes well under its own weight.

I ordered the pen via the WhatsApp number of G Laksham Rao himself. He shared with me the entire list of pens he made. From that collection, I selected this all-black design. He had it shipped immediately. In less than seven days, I had received my order. He has been facing issues with procuring ebonite because of the COVID-19 situation, but he confesses his honest commitment of investing 100%  of his heart and soul into fulfilling all orders he receives. In his own words, “it is a matter of pride. I cannot spoil my father’s name.” They have been making pens for the last seventy-five years, and he wants to continue to do it for as long as possible.

I am happy that I, as a customer, could be a part of his long journey. After I received my order, he gave me a call to ask if I was OK with it. He took so much care that he even asked me to return the pen to him, and he would customize it to suit my requirements. For a newbie FP enthusiast like me, that is more than I had bargained for!

Conclusion and How to Buy

The pen makes a permanent place for itself right from the first word it wrote. I’d recommend an Indian handmade ebonite fountain pen to every possible person. Only a few companies chose to listen to their customers. Still, fewer treats their customers as respectfully as Lakshman Garu.

You can just give him a call and talk to him about fountain pens. At least for me, his care and passion poured out from my cellphones microphones as he continued to describe why he had sent what he had. I could well have begun and concluded this review in one sentence: despite not receiving what I had wanted, this pen continues to receive the praise it truly deserves.

Here’s how you can order a pen from him:

  1. Go through their website: https://guiderpen.com 
  2. Choose a pen category.
  3. Give him a call or WhatsApp him on 09390163779. He usually responds immediately.
  4. Select the pen of your choice and pay.
  5. He ships the pen to you.
  6. Write away to glory.

I hope you like the review and his craftsmanship.

Happy writing.

The Interview and the Strange Feedback

Last month, I attended a formal interaction for a job opportunity within my team. One of my teammates is looking for an instructional designer. Since it is a small team, they included us to review the candidate. That’s how and why the interaction happened last month.


In India — specifically in all the interviews that I have attended either as interviewee or interviewer — there are a few things that have gone unnoticed, unsaid, or but understood:

  • The interviewer asks more questions than the interviewee
  • The interview process has to cover all questions relating to the candidate’s professional life, including if and why was there a gap in their career
  • The interviewer has to have an upper hand or can interrupt


Thankfully, I have never followed any of these rules… and thankfully, organizations are evolving. Come 2021, I have rarely heard anyone facing such questions.


I am of a firm belief that first, it is an interaction and not an “interview,” and two it has to be two-way communication.

But, the recent interaction went from an interaction into an interrogation. And I am speechless.

So, here is how it went.


My first impression was that even though the candidate had over 20 years of experience, she didn’t have the positivity I was expecting her to have. So, I motivated her to talk more or elaborate right from her first answer. It might be true, after all, that the interview is over in the first 50 seconds.


Then, I asked her a few questions, which she answered promptly. And answered a few of her questions. Hopefully, I answered those questions satisfactorily.


Then I happened to ask her about the Oxford comma. I expect that a technical communicator with over 20 years of experience will have, at least, heard about it. She didn’t know what it was. To which I told her that I would have expected someone of her experience to know such things. Nevertheless, she appreciated me for pointing that out, and we moved on.


Then I picked up a few sentences from her resume and asked her to find out if and what was wrong with those. I was prepared to hear her say that the sentences were OK, which they weren’t. To which I would have said nothing.


But when she could not point out the oversight, I pointed out those to her and told her that she could correct those. Even though I realize this is an interview, I thought this helping hand would be acknowledged as a welcome gesture. Besides, I even clarified that the answers to those questions would not impact the interview result.


On a side note, let me tell you a secret. For all the interviews I have attended, I have purposely asked for the interviewers to point out the instances where I could have gone wrong or improved myself. I have always received welcoming replies. In the process, I have made friends with the interviewers… Selection or no selection, we have gone above and beyond those social boundaries to create a collaborative environment. I still talk to a lot of them, more as friends.


So, back to this interaction. I told the candidate how I committed mistakes and overcame those by asking the right questions. I also told her how I liked the interaction to be two-way, and not one-way. Within a week after the interaction, I heard from my boss — during our weekly interaction — that she found me to be aggressively authoritative and egotistic. Although we did clear the confusion between us (my boss and I), and even he felt nothing wrong with my approach, I have since learned a few hard lessons the hard way.


At least I now know one more thing. It is OK for me, as an interviewee, to ask what mistakes I committed. But, as an interviewer, I must not point out the scope for improvement, despite how objective and positive my intentions maybe because not everyone shares my state of mind.


Let me know what you think.

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 38 Prompt

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Wish.


Wish

There she was. All alone. And then she looked up in the sky and regretted, “what if we’d left together!”


If you, too, would like to participate, just:

  • Write a story in exactly 20 words, excluding the title. The story must highlight the prompt of the week.
  • Tag her post
  • Leave a link to your attempt in the Comments section in her post.

I hope that you like my humble attempt.

Product Review: Submarine 939 Fountain Pen

God knows I have been itching to review a fountain pen for a long time. And when I did get the one that fit my budget, they sent me one with a Fine tip. Damn!

And, so began my review even before I had filled the pen with ink. But the support was kind enough to let me know that Submarine Pens didn’t deal with Fine nibs and were as shocked as I was. They kindly agreed to send me a Medium nib, which should be on its way right now.

So, here’s the review.

The pen is of brass and is a tad on the heavier side for my liking. The build quality is solid. And all parts feel they there made to measure. If the pen didn’t have the pattern, I reckon it would be a lot slippery to hold. So, good, thoughtful design.

The opening mechanism is pull-and-push. I like the tactile and acoustic feedback of the ‘click.’ The cap’s finial has a studded Swarovski element, which adds a nice touch to the look. I’d be OK without it, but I know a lot of Indians would love to have some embellishment on the pen. After I ordered the pen, they called to ask if I’d like to personalize it, which I did. The font size and style selection were theirs. Yet, my name just shines through: no pun intended. 🙂

The nib, as I mentioned, is an Indian Fine tip and should sit between the western Fine and Indian Medium nib. Considering my shaky hand, I’d prefer either a Medium or Broad nib, but even this nib is a joy to write with. It is a platinum-tipped nib that’s made of stainless steel and feels more toward being sturdy than flexible. For a Fine nib, the sweet spot is relatively large enough to write at any angle.

Reverse writing is possible. This pares down to two things: the nib is smooth, and the ink flows through the feed’s channels. The website advertises the pen comes with a Medium, dual-tone nib, but I got a Fine, gold-colored nib. A Fine nib has its advantages. One, the ink dries faster. Two, feathering and bleed through to the other side of the paper reduces.

One more thing! The nib is smooth for its first use but I reckon it will soon break in. Until then, the flow through the feed’s channels will not be consistent and the ink’s color will not come through.

The feed and converter are plastic, and the pen came supplied with two cartridges of company-specific ink. I had an old bottle of Parker Quink Blue, so I chose not to purchase Submarine’s ink, which was about twice as expensive (twice as good?). Anyway, the two supplementary cartridges are sufficient to judge the ink’s quality if I compare it with the Parker’s.

For a section and grip that’s carved out of brass, the grip is a perfect combination of shine and comfort. I can write for a long time without fatigue. The pen’s weighted toward the tip, and you will have to adjust the weight even when you might have posted the pen. Usually, I don’t post my pen. So, I will continue to try different combinations to get the best writing.

In tests limited to my knowledge, exposure, and technique, Parker’s Quink won. I had used a regular 60~70 GSM printer paper. Through the first, second, and third passes, Quink flew better and was more saturated. But I used a cartridge for Submarine ink and the converter for Parker’s Quink. So, I’d give a point to the converter because it did the job it is meant to do.

I have a doctor’s handwriting (Sorry, doctors!), and the Fine tip doesn’t lend a lasting impression in that regard.

Should you try this pen? Why not. Especially given that they acknowledged that they accidentally sent a Fine nib and would happily replace it for free. Customer service goes a long way in assuring repeat purchases. After all, you can sell a product only once! After which, the product has to sell itself.

I got the pen for 600 rupees, plus shipping. To buy the pen, use this link: https://www.submarinepens.com/product/939-fountain-pen/

So, that’s my first review of a fountain pen. Please pardon my handwriting, and let me know if I missed anything.

Happy writing.

Thirst for Words

Worst for the words,
It appears to me,
Is for them to cease to exist.
Pressing as your heart ever may.

Worst, indeed, for the words,
It is, you must know, for they
Will no longer turn into gold
That once was hay.

Worst, yes, for the words,
It is, you discover, that they
Will not unearth—never anymore—
Buried thoughts that lay.

Worst, surely, for the words
It is, I confess, that they occasionally
Witness the dry beds that once
Flew hundreds of gallons away.

Trust, but I must, in the same words,
For it is at their own fancy that
I awoke, avowed, and will ever await.
Never leave me, I ask. Stay.

Trust, I will, in those words,
For it is their humble selves that
I will reach where I’ve yearned to go
As the words will pave my way.

Trust, surely I will, in those words,
For when they will bless me,
They will have me drenched, and
Quench my thirst for the day.

©Suyog Ketkar
July, 2021