Yesterday I got my hands messy trying to get an old fountain pen to work. The ink just wouldn’t flow smoothly. So I looked up the internet for some hacks like what every crisis-struck internet-savvy person would do.
And guess what I bumped into? A pen hospital!
Tucked away in Kolkata’s busy Esplanade streets, you would only notice this hidden gem if you’re a pen lover. The unassuming store (literally called the Pen Hospital) began life during the independence era. But before we get to the heart of the story, a quick detour.
India’s tryst with fountain pens started off during the Swadeshi movement when we tried to oppose Bengal’s partition with the idea of homemade goods. And since we mostly used English-made ink pens, people like Fanindranath Gooptu and the Maitri brothers (Sankaracharya and Nanigopal Maitri) set out to popularise Indian writing instruments by setting up businesses like F. N. Gooptu & Co. and Sulekha Ink respectively. Their pens and ink were admired even by leaders like Gandhi and Tagore.
Of course, people’s love for writing took these businesses to new heights, so much so that Mohammed Shamsuddin sniffed an opportunity here. And that’s how Pen Hospital came to be. He fixed pens not just from Calcutta but all around the world. His expertise with ink pens was so popular that people would courier their fine Wilsons, Watermans and Pierre Cardins that required careful handling.
But how does Pen Hospital keep its business alive in a time when digital is all the rage?
Well, although the ink pens stayed relevant until about 2010, newer ball pens or gel pens haven’t really been able to fully steal their charm. For instance, the lockdown actually unlocked people’s interest in classic writing instruments. Indian businesses like The Pen World have witnessed increased demands for accessories bundled with fountain pens by up to 50%. So maybe it’s people’s nostalgia and fresh bonding alike that keeps Pen Hospital running even to date.
If you admire fountain pens or have a bunch of classic ones that you think may never write with, you could try to treat them at Kolkata’s humble Pen Hospital. There may be hope for them in the hands of Surgeon (Mohammed) Imtiaz (the current family owner) after all!
Also, we really recommend reading this article if you want a more in-depth coverage of the Pen Hospital. It’s a fascinating read.
Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵
Aaina by Afkap
Thanks for this relatable recommendation Sujay!
A couple of things caught our eye this week 👀
Influencer marketing has a real fake hiccup
The Indian influencer marketing industry is worth over ₹900 crores. And this could triple in size by 2025.
Brands depend on influencers to reach out to potential customers. You see, according to a report by Dentsu India and Boomlet Group at least 20% of Indians suggested that they were extremely likely to buy something if it were something promoted by an influencer. So it’s a fair bet for companies.
But then there’s a catch. These companies may not be able to derive the full benefit of their marketing spending if influencers don’t have real followers. And it’s kind of becoming a big problem of late.
Everybody knows that it’s not too hard to buy fake followers these days. If you want to fish for brand partnerships by growing a large follower base you could do it quite easily by paying somebody to fetch you fake followers. These companies either have bots working overtime or click farms with real young people whose only job is to boost your social media account.
And according to a Klug India (a B2B tech platform) report cited by ET, over half of all social media influencers in India have more than 60% inactive or non-credible followers. And that’s a big deal as India has an estimated 80 million social media influencers.
In effect, a brand’s campaign may fall on deaf ears. Meaning, nearly 15–20% of their spending goes to waste. And globally this is a $1.3 billion problem.
So how could brands stay safe from such scams?
Well, they could get their team to verify how many genuine engagements influencers get on prior posts. That’s called the engagement rate. They could also use analytics to check how quickly influencers are gaining followers. A sudden spike in following at frequent intervals could be a red flag.
And of course, have quality checks in place for influencers too.
And while these steps could help brands gain a better return on advertisement spending, social media platforms also need to do something about it no?
Hopefully, all the stakeholders could come together to curb this menace once and for all.
Fun fact: Russia even has vending machines to buy fake likes and followers!
***India’s hemp pharmacy
Jammu’s all set to kick start India’s first cannabis medicine project. That means India could soon produce export quality medicines meant to treat different kinds of physical and mental health ailments.
Now, a lot of people think cannabis is illegal in India. But that’s not entirely true.
In 1985, the Indian government explicitly prohibited the production and consumption of cannabis resin (charas) and flowers (ganja) but did make an exception for the leaves and seeds. They made this exception because Indians used the seeds (bhang) for religious purposes. If you’re unaware, bhang is traditionally used and distributed during Maha Shivaratri and Holi. So the seeds and leaves remained outside the purview of central government prohibitions. Instead, the centre let states decide the regulations of growing cannabis without the flowering and fruiting tops. So Assam for instance bans everything and Uttarakhand allows for the production of industrial hemp.
Against this backdrop, we can finally go on to talk about the medicinal properties of cannabis. Pretty much everyone knows that the plant is famous for its psychoactive properties. The psychoactive properties are attributed to the chemical compound THC. But you could also extract chemical compounds called cannabidiol (CBD) from hemp. And CBDs have some degree of medical use. They have been shown to ease symptoms of anxiety, neurological disorders, heart health issues and certain types of pain too.
Now the government wants to experiment with cannabis to explore its medicinal properties but they don’t want to grow the plant with high THC. So they are figuring out the best way to do this in a controlled manner. And it seems Jammu could become one of the first places where we start exploring this seriously.
Will the experiment pave the way for broader legalization? We don’t know. We will just have to wait and see I guess.
Money tips 💰
Staying financially motivated
Staying financially motivated isn’t the easiest thing to do. You could have SMART financial goals i.e. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound but then you may feel like foregoing the habit because you are too tired of being disciplined for so long. Maybe you don’t see the point of it all.
And this can happen to the best of us. In fact, this happens routinely to people because there is no joy in simply setting aside money.
So what do you do to stay on track?
Well, you could cheat. Literally! But in a nice way.
For instance, if you consistently save about ₹5,000 every month, then at the end of it you could tell yourself “Hey, I did good. So this month I’ll save ₹4,000 and use ₹1,000 to buy myself a little present.”
It’s like rewarding yourself for being consistent. And although it might seem like cheating it’ll help you stay motivated. Of course, no expert might actually agree that splashing your savings is a good idea. But it’s better than losing your way on your financial journey no?
Readers Recommend 🗒️
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Today we have a book recommendation that highlights the importance of starting by asking ‘Why?’
Why do you do what you do? Why are some people or businesses more innovative, influential and profitable than others? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? It was this curiosity that enabled folks like Steve Jobs or the Wright Brothers to achieve remarkable things and inspire those around them.
So, maybe pick up this book and let inspiration hit you? You can thank our reader Sigilipalli Ravi Kumar for this inspiring recommendation.
Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩
It’s time to announce the winner of our previous Weekly Quiz. And the winner is… 🥁
Akil Antony! Congratulations. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your Finshots merch.
And for the rest of you, here’s your next chance to grab the winner’s crown. Click on this 👉🏽 link, answer all the questions correctly and tune in next week to check if you got lucky.
Until then, don’t forget to tell us what you thought of today’s newsletter. And send us your book, music, business movies, documentaries or podcast recommendations. We’ll feature them in the newsletter! Just hit reply to this email (or if you’re reading this on the web, drop us a message: firstname.lastname@example.org).