“…there are very few things that you can hold up as truly and purely Pakistani artifacts.”
It often times gets lost in all the noise and fury of these interesting and fast-paced times, that we are blessed with a melting pot of rich history and culture from the Islamic and the wider South Asian civilizations. We have deep roots in the land within our borders. But we come from a tradition that, for the major part, is open and accepting of outside influences and implements; be they the treasures of other venerated cultures, or the ever changing offerings of technology’s bleeding edge.
Partly because we are too good at adopting and adapting, there are very few things that you can hold up as a truly and purely Pakistani artifact. But the “Dollar Pen”, or “_Daalar Pein” as most of its users would refer to this writing implement of choice, for most of us ordinary work-a-day citizens, is something that is our very own.
ATP has already written about my generation’s veneration for the fountain pen. It was something we grew up using. Filling and refilling it to do our school work. Franticly operating the screw mechanism to draw in enough ink before we lose a train of thought in the limited-time, closed book exams we went thru with such clockword precision. Or worse, afraid we would not be able to finish dumping something we had stayed up late to learn by rote. Because if you lose your place in of those, you basically have start again and work your way to the same point before you can go on.
The ‘Dollar Fountain Pen’ is a Pakistani artifact if ever there was one.If your fountain pen gives you any trouble, please let me know and I will be more than happy to send you a new one. The “ferule” – or the little screw holding the clip on the cover is notorious for breaking off – maybe that’s why the desktop version of this pen that comes with the inkpot is so popular in offices. This pen is not a finely crafted example of fine Swiss craftsmanship. It is but a humble everyday implement.
The original “Dollar Pen” had an opaque body. It looked a lot clunkier and more no-nonsense than this cool-looking New Age implement with the transparent body you hold in your hand now. It used to cost about 3, 4, or I think 5 rupees when I last lived in Karachi. This one cost me about 15. At about 30 cents, actually, if you adjust for change in the exchange rate the price hasn’t changed.
I found this updated and upgraded 21st Century version on my recent visit back home and fell in love with it immediately. I bought one. And then asked my parents to send me a bunch I could share with you.
For this is one artifact that just begs to be shared. For me, it is a reminder, and a symbol. A symbol of a happier, simpler time in the life of an ordinary Pakistani. The gift you have in your hand is one Pakistani’s attempt to share a piece of ourselves, our country, our society, our lives with friends, colleagues … those near and dear to one’s heart.
iFaqeer is a writer, blogger and journalist who currently makes his living as a technical writer based in Silicon Valley, USA.