It is unlikely that the humble ‘nasi ayam’ (‘chicken rice’) will ever win any culinary awards in the known universe at any time in the foreseeable future. However, this does not mean its a vile rice dish that would make the uninitiated cringe in horror. On the contrary, this dish is so good and wholesome that it is deeply entrenched in the Malaysian psyche. If it were ever to be made illegal (hypothetically speaking, of course), I won’t be surprised to see hyped-up protest marches being organised in Putrajaya and a million self-styled ‘SOPO’ bloggers working furiously on their keyboards crying, “FOUL!”.
What makes the ‘nasi ayam’ so special is not because it is sophisticated, refined or aesthetically off-the-charts. However, it is special because it is readily available, fast, affordable and dependably satisfying. It scores nicely in the areas that matter.
So what has ‘nasi ayam’ got to do with the ubiquitous Parker Vector? Well, if the Vector was a dish, it’ll be none other than the ever-popular ‘nasi ayam’. If you are looking for something that hits the spot in the fastest, cheapest and most dependable way, you can’t go wrong with a Vector.
The Vector is a slender pen. Capped, it is 13.1 cm long and has a barrel diameter of 1 cm. While I am quite happy with the length (most Malaysians can comfortably write with the Vector unposted i.e. without sticking the cap onto the end of the pen), I am not so hot about its 1 cm girth. Maybe its because – just like a woman’s breasts – I prefer to feel a little more of it in my hands when I go to work. Then again, this is just a matter of personal preference. Even with its meagre 1 cm barrel diameter, there is plenty to work with and it writes just fine even if it is on the slender side.
The Vector has a steel nib. Naturally it is stiff with very little or no flexing at all. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The hard steel nib ensures years of very durable service. But don’t expect the Vector to write with that ‘springy’ feel that more expensive pens offer. If you are looking at no-nonsense performance, the Vector is right up your alley. Again, a stiff nib isn’t the necessarily the mark of a lower quality pen. Steel nibbed pens may be cheaper than gold nibbed ones. But this does not mean that they will not write just as well. Moreover, you can be assured that they will last longer because steel is much harder than gold. Where durability is concerned, the adage “The harder, the better” truly does apply.
Finally, the ink filling mechanism is the plunger system. Pull the plunger up, the resulting vacuum draws ink into the reservoir. It is simple and effective. Perhaps not as efficient as the piston system offered by German-made pens like Pelikan and Montblanc, the Vector’s plunger is more than adequate to ensure hassle-free inking of your pen.
The Vector is a no-nonsense pen that is affordable, available and can prove to be a pleasure to write with. It does its job reasonably well, with no fuss or fanfare. It is a no-frills reliable workhorse – not exactly utilitarian but not exacly heirloom material either. Thus, it is the ideal pen for anyone who wants dependable writing instrument that will last and last. Equally at home in the classroom or in the office, the Vector will get the job done reasonably well every time.
Just because the Vector is the ‘nasi ayam’ of the pen world, this doesn’t mean that it is not a quality instrument. It is. And it fills a niche that no other pen can within this price range.
The Vector is a good ‘starter’ fountain pen. Just don’t it expect it to have the ‘bling-factor’ of a Montblanc.