Hyderabad: In the age of use and throw products, Srikakulam's Pen Hospital has emerged as a one-of-a-kind place where pens that are damaged or broken, or ones that have stopped working are "treated".
The "hospital" stands at the seven-road junction in Srikakulam. It was started by two brothers, Rajarao and Anand Rao. In the 1970s the duo sold pens that cost Rs. 10 for Rs. 12. Back then, it was the era of ink pens. Since there was no one to repair the pens once they stopped working, the brothers took it upon themselves to repair them. In 1976, on a friend's suggestion, they named their shop the Pen Hospital.
The Srikakulam Pen hospital is currently run by Raja Rao's younger son, Nagaraju. Gel pens, ball pens, and ink pens are all treated here. Materials like abrasive, plier, water, blades and ink are used for the "treatment". Apart from the repair work, they also sell different types of pens. They also send pens abroad as gifts for people.
The Srikakulam Pen Hospital offers easy and affordable refills, too. For example, a Waterman pen costs around Rs. 5,500 and the refill over Rs. 2,000, which may be a little expensive for many people. At the Pen Hospital, they make refills that are suitable for these types of pens at an affordable price. The hospital also charges for only the materials used in the repair.
Speaking to Newsmeter, Mr Nagaraju said, "It's been five years since I have taken over the Pen Hospital. My dad and uncle started this. When someone gets a very expensive pen, we find a suitable refill for the pen and sell it for Rs. 5, 8 or 10. Our daily income is sometimes, Rs. 5 or 10,000. Some times it's more. During New Year, 15 August, Children's day, Teachers day, and during the exam time our sales increases. Our costliest pen is priced at Rs. 28,000. My ambition is to sell a pen worth Rs. 2 lakh."
Talking about why ink pens are not used these days, he said, "Nobody has the patience to refill the ink, wash it, and use it again. That is the main reason why ink pens are not in use." He also said it is better to use fountain pens because it improves one's handwriting. He said schools in Andhra Pradesh have made it mandatory for children to use ink pens. On the customer turnout, he said, "It's 30, 50 sometimes. At our peak, it reaches up to 600."
Mr Nagaraju said the most expensive fountain pen he has ever sold was worth Rs. 7,000. He sold the "Williams-Infinium" pen which can last for 80 years. If it stops working before that, we give a new one, he said. "The pen costs Rs. 13,150. I have sold six of these. I need to sell one more pen to become the first person from the Telugu states to sell seven of these," he said.