I’ve noticed, there are two kinds of people – those who take notes and those who don’t. I love taking notes. I love capturing every thought that flutters up in my brain. But, it is tough to find good notebooks that specifically suit your needs. What were my needs, you ask? That it had to be with me all the time, easy to jot down, easy to refer & easy to store. Once the needs were nailed down, it was the quality of the tools that needed to be looked into: Do you want something to get the work done with, something cheap, something that can withstand any abuse or do you want your tool to mean something, stand for something, made of premium material, bring you joy while using it? Over time, my needs have varied from one end of the spectrum to another. Over the last few months, I have deliberately tried moving away from using digital tools. Not just for the heck of it, but to simplify and have more clarity. I would put information into various apps and never bother to look back at them again. And, then forget where was what. Not to mention that you have to remember what you want to search for, or else, it is not easy to find them. I just wanted one solution that I could write-in, and easily refer back. This lead me not to another app, but to notebooks.
Over the last few months, I’ve been using pen and paper as my main ‘system’ to help me wade through the day. I have a notebook of B5 size, 250 pages of 100 gsm copier paper that I got bound at a local shop. But, one aspect of this system always bothered me: I didn’t have a solution to capture notes on the fly. Where would I capture my notes if I did not have a notebook or a pen with me? I needed something more convenient than a B5 size notebook to carry with me all the time; I needed a pocket notebook and a pocket pen. It is extremely difficult to get good pocket notebooks in India, not to mention pocket fountain pens. Now, I’m the kind of a guy who’d feel naked stepping out of the house without a pen, but I make do and end up falling back on my iPhone to take notes again.
As I kept searching for an answer to this, I stumbled on ‘Kaweco’ brand of pens. Especially there ‘Al Sport’ line. After much deliberation I ended up purchasing one and now absolutely love it. My previous experience with premium fountain pens left me burnt. So disappointed was I with this experience that though a die-hard fountain pen user for more than 20 years, I ended up using Staedtler pigment liners as my everyday pens. But, my experience with Kaweco was so good that it reminded me why I fell in love fountain pens in the first place. I had not just found a pocket pen, but a fantastic fountain pen that now goes with me everywhere. I even take more notes thanks to the pen.
With one problem solved, I continued my search for the elusive pocket notebook.
My search led me to our local book shop ‘Crossword’ that had come up with their own stationery line – ‘Yello’ which released pocket notebooks and index cards as part of their catalogue. Pocket notebooks quickly turned out to be unwieldy – they never fit into any pocket – shirt or trouser. But, I was looking for good ‘Index Cards’ since the time I heard about hipster PDAs and GTD. Though I did use index cards for sometime, I realized a couple of limitations – first, they are better suited to take individual snippets of notes that could be thrown away at the end of the day, than continuous verbiage. Second, since they are not bound, you are prone to lose them unless careful. Third, since they are not cards per se, but, just paper of a higher gsm, they would crumble and crinkle in your pocket sometimes making them unusable.
I was left with one other option – import. But, importing to India from US was not a feasible option. $10 Field notes (which is definitely not pocketable) would cost $25-$30 to import. And, this is the same case with every other brand of pocket notebooks that folks who have access to, go ga-ga about. However, I did stumble upon Moleskine Cahier Pocket notebooks at a local bookstore. At first glance I did not think they would fit in a pocket, but what the heck, I wanted to give them a try and purchased them. They sure stick out of a shirt pocket, but, fit comfortably in a trouser pocket. The writing experience with Kaweco in them was not the best, but they were understated & good enough to carry around and pull out to in a corporate setting (my workplace) without raising eyebrows.
I’m not a Luddite. I spend a lot of time on my phone surfing the net. But, I have wanted to curtail the usage of my phone for sometime now, but was unable to do so, since I use it a lot for notes capture. And, now having a notebook and pen in my pocket gives me the freedom to ‘forget’ my phone more often.