Tuesday, October 04, 2011

7: Stationery

Town Hall Square Library Link, Sydney

This is what I'm likely to have with me on any given day: donkey, blank book, pens -- alongside the things more typically found in a handbag. (Keys, sunglasses, phone, camera, yes; five colours of lipstick, no. Maybe "typically" wasn't the best choice of words.) It isn't great for the shoulder, but at least I'm never caught without a place to write down a sudden observation/story idea.

I have a special place in my heart for inexpensive writing implements that write reliably and maintain their nib integrity up to the last drop of ink. I like even more that this Pilot G-1 (my favourite inexpensive reliable model of pen, most vexatiously not sold in Australia) in the picture has an old-fashioned price tag on it, and it's even reinforced with sellotape to prevent customers' itchy fingers from peeling it off. On that price tag is the logo of the stationery shop a few roads behind my family home in PJ, a shop that has been there since my childhood. My brother, youngest ketchup sister and I used to walk over as a special after-lunch treat on some days. The dim, dusty aisles topped with tidy rows of decorated pencils, arranged by design and lead colour, were fascinating to pre-formal schooling me.

It's no longer dim and dusty; some years ago the owner put in air conditioning and rearranged things a bit, probably wiping things along the way. But whenever I'm back it's still my go-to place -- to stockpile pen refills, of course, but also to browse other Malaysian stationery shop ephemera: badminton racquets, harmonicas, ping-pong nets, carrom men, ledgers, fishing rods, hula hoops. Things that can't be labelled stationery by any stretch of the imagination. So maybe it's not only stationery that I have a weakness for; it's the idea that it is possible to endure without conforming to a label.

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