Friday, February 20, 2015

Trying to buy paper

I’ve taken up letter writing in a small way. From time to time I take paper and pen, shut off my computer, and write a letter by hand. Somebody said this would be good for my mental health, so there I go. I got started on this while we were in Boston, where I know how to find several stores that sell fancy paper. I have some fountain pens, and I really like the feel of a good fountain pen on smooth paper that takes the ink nicely.

I forgot to bring a fountain pen to Belarus this time, and I don’t know where to buy one here. That’s OK. I’m perfectly happy to write a letter with another kind of pen, but I do prefer to write on paper that will make the recipient feel special. In other words, I don’t want to write on a big sheet of office paper designed to go into a computer printer. While I’d love to write on some snobby hand-crafted paper from a small factory in an exotic place, I’m perfectly happy with any kind of stationery intended for hand-written letters. I just needed to buy some.

I figured that I’d find what I wanted at a nice bookstore downtown. The store I have in mind sells wrapping paper, notebooks, ledgers, exam books and all manner of paper products. Well, I just exaggerated there, because they certainly didn’t have what I wanted. The clerks couldn’t really even grasp what I had in mind. They showed me the A4 office paper and felt that they’d done their job. I figured I hadn’t adequately explained myself so I browsed the store carefully. While there, I bought a filler for my ballpoint pen. The filler cost 3 cents, but the bargain didn’t make up for my disappointment about the paper.

Next I went to a huge underground mall nearby. This three-story temple of commerce has plenty of glitzy stores, and I knew of more than one stationery shop. Surely they’d have something for me. The first guys sent me to the second guys who sent me to the third guys. The third guys ran a pen shop that sold a variety of flashy-looking chrome-plated ballpoint pens in gift boxes and stocked a few Hallmark-style cards, probably to go with the pens. I don’t know if people actually write with those pens because I still didn’t find any paper intended for the purpose. Most likely the people with those pens write in their ledger books and sign important documents.

I wandered around the mall without success and finally asked a guy selling fancy watches if he had ANY idea where I might buy paper for writing letters. He sent me to the post office. This idea had crossed my mind before, but it seemed so strange that I walked right past the post office on my way to the underground mall. I went back.

Yes, the post office sells writing paper. It's approximately A4 size, with trimmed edges. But so you won’t be confused and put it into your printer, it’s got lines on it and an image of a quill pen on the margin. They sell it by the sheet, so I bought five sheets. Somebody's gonna get a letter.