It is easy to wax eloquent about those simple things in life that give you complete happiness. As a part of childhood, there are certain things that give you maximum bliss that would have no effect on others. I had this craze for good pens, pencils and rubbers (that's what I call it even though you have a better term in erasers!). That fanciful thought of buying new things came to me as and when I saw a new pen or pencil in the store. This theory worked for books too! The greatest aspect of my growing up can be attributed to buying the latest copies of Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, Champak and Chandamama from the local stores, as well as getting them from the library.
On a more materialistic note, I used to envy my class mates who used to carry those sleek fountain pens and the so called jazzy pen-pencil (yes, that's what I call them. It was more like a pen, with a push pull projection at the back that could control the amount of lead coming to the fore). I am sure almost every one of us would have started our student life with the traditional Natraj pencils from the nearby stationary vendor. These pencils have the characteristic red and black lines bolting across the length of the pencil giving them a simple look. There was not a touch of sophistication associated with these pencils. They served the actual purpose. As you put down pencil on paper, the ease with which it raced across the paper added to my thrill. I always thought pencils to be of miraculous invention that had the best way of translating thoughts to words. As and when you make a mistake, you had the Apsara rubbers to wipe out the error in an equally neat way. I somehow never liked the Natraj rubbers for some reason. It could never get the paper to be spick and span after a mistake. Apart from Natraj pencils, I loved the Camlin(or Camel, I don't remember) pencils. They were white in colour and the pencil was filled with purple flowery structures. Later with time, these pencils went on to become my favourite as it had a quality that was completely different from the other pencils in the market. Sharpeners were another aspect altogether. They are so critical to refine your pencil quality. It was always a challenge to have a good sharpener and win the argument with your friends proclaiming your pencil to have a better streak of sharpness as compared to others. If you can win an argument at that age with your class mates, you can be sure of one thing - you are good at winning arguments or your product is really really good. As the wooden coating slipped out of the sharpener, the waste could either get into the waste paper basket or they would slither into the middle of your book. As a school kid, it was a fancy to see if there was any development associated with the flowery kind of wooden coating emerge out of the pencil waste. As the flowers got embedded in a fat book, it was mandatory to see the state of the development every once in a few days. Invariably, due to the thickness of the book, the flowers would have got hardened, and I would be gloating in excitement on the thoughts of having discovered a new process in the path of evolution. It was crazy stuff but the joy was very much there.
Though the advent of computers and PDAs have lightened up the process of writing huge pages of notes, the joy of writing with that wooden piece is truly incomparable. Even today, when I see a new pencil or pen, the joy I get in using it for the first time is unmatched by anything else. That look of gleam and happiness one feels when writing a sentence on a piece of paper with the pen or pencil you like can come nowhere close to the hundreds of text editing tools today.