If I have to name one pen as my all time favourite, I will name Lamy as the one without a second’s hesitation. There are close competition from the likes of Pelikan M200, TWSBI Diamond530 & 540, Sheaffer Targa, Polit Namiki VP, etc. but it is Lamy that I go back again and again to. Also, I have lost the maximum number of Lamy Safaris to friends and strangers stealing them or simply taking them away. I have also gifted a number of Lamy, mostly Safaris to young students and those whom I motivate to use fountain pens.
My first Lamy was a red Safari with a converter. I first got a chance to try out a Lamy Safari when I saw Mr. Arun Shourie the redoubtable investigative journalist while on his visit to Guwahatti, Assam, where I was posted during the turbulent days of Assam Agitation. I was simply floored by the smoothness of the nib and the smug way the section fitted into my grip. I decided then and there I must have one of these. During the early Eighties, pens or for that matter any foreign item was not easy to come by in India. My desire had to be suppressed, at least for the time being.
That was till I was introduced to the Vandana Book Shop in Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi. This small book shop is a remarkable place if you are a pen aficionado. I know of no place in Delhi where you can get almost any international brand pens. If they are not readily available, it shall be produced on order, God knows from where! Have you an antique pen that needs restoration with TLC? This is the place for that too. As I walked into the store once I saw a red Lamy Safari being put back into the case. Obviously, someone had just seen it and did not buy. I jumped at it and almost snatched it from the gentleman’s hands. Thus I came to possess my first Lamy Safari, one among the many that I was to own over the next three decades.
This pen I lost to a visiting family whose son took an immediate fancy for it and chose to put it in his pocket without even so much as asking! Currently, I have only one Safari with me. A dull gray affair compared to all the other flamboyant colours like yellow, blue, red and metallic charcoal. It has a medium nib and is fitted with a converter.
I also had a set of White Safari and Ball pen, but the pen is gone and I am left with the Ballpen. I was gifted a Vista Clear Roller ball Pen, which is with me resting in a large pen holder cup and under frequent use. My red Lamy Safari 0.5 mm Mechanical pencil is also among my favourites. My search for a 0.9 mm pencil has still not yielded results. Another Lamy in my arsenal is a gray Tipo roller ball pen.
I do not need to comment on the legendary writing qualities of Lamy Safari. On a personal note, what makes Lamy my favourite pen is the perfect grip that I get from the peculiar shape of the section. I find the ink flow of the Fine and Medium perfect, though I have never used a Broad or Italic nib of Lamy. I also love the smoothness of the nib, the way it glides over even poor quality paper. Government of India and the State Government of Haryana use very rough quality noting sheets for official file works. I have used Lamy pens in office work for nearly 30 years. Even those papers could not take away the sheer pleasure of writing with a Lamy Safari.
Lamy Safari is also a very tough pen, capable of withstanding quite a bit of rough handling. I have carried Safaris in my shirt pockets on wildlife photo tours, travel to Khardung La, the highest motorable road on earth and even had them lying around in closed automobiles left in the summer sun of India with outside temperature in the regions of 45 Degree Centigrade! Not that I would recommend such unkind treatment as a routine affair to anyone, but it just happened once. I am glad to say, at the end of the day, Lamy continued to perform as if nothing happened!
The less expensive Safari shares crucial mechanisms like nib, feeder and converter with its more expensive brethren. So in the final count, whether you stick to Safari or opt for the more costly version of Lamy writing instrument is simply a matter of style, not substance.
The toughness and the quality of writing are the reasons why I always recommend Lamy Safari as the first pen for anyone newly wanting to join the fountain pen users ’club. Except for just one person, all to whom I have recommended Lamy Safari have loved the pen.