Anil has an amazing personal history, with the art of calligraphy his longest passion. With the flurry of a special gold pen, he can produce the perfect calling card, as he did for us in a few seconds. His grandfather and father were born to a Hindu family in Faisalabad, now in Pakistan, and had to move to Ludhiana in India in 1947 during partition. In 1953 his father moved to Gorakhpur to work for the railways, and Anil was born there in 1957. He has called Nepal his home since 1976, although he feels very comfortable in India. Anil is married with two children – his daughter is a doctor and his son works in construction.
He was at school and university in Gorakhpur. He still recalls vividly from his school days being told to ‘improve his handwriting’ – it may well have been this that eventually lead him to study calligraphy. Coming from Punjab gave him a keen insight into the Hindu and Sikh faiths. He recounts that Guru Nanak came to Nepal and left some amazing manuscripts that any calligrapher would find of great interest.
As a keen table tennis player who played for the state of Uttar Pradesh, he found that the best price and quality ping pong balls were found in Bhairahawa, across the border in Nepal. He had already decided that he didn’t want to be a doctor – he could see the medical sales reps wearing suits and ties and looking rich! So he applied for a job with a pharmaceutical supplies company, and when asked if he had the experience of traveling to Nepal, he was able to say yes. This was his first ‘proper’ job! From 1976 he worked in Kathmandu, then he was moved back to Gorakhpur and also spent a year in Bhopal followed by a spell in Patna. But he was passionate about returning to Nepal more permanently, so when the company refused that, he left and decided to set up his own business in the medical distribution business. He recalls another venture with some nostalgia; running a café called Humpty Dumpty’s in New Road. He also had a VW van in 1987, selling drinks outside the old airport, and at night adjacent to the Crystal Hotel off New Road. Perhaps these enterprises were never going to make him a millionaire – that dream lives on!
His main business these days is in the field of event management, advertising, and distribution, producing signboards and using his artistic talents to great effect for his customers. He learnt these skills himself and from others who inspired him. Anil was involved with the Nepal Tourism Board Visit Nepal 2020 project, but when this had to be shelved because of Covid, he initiated the Domestic Tourism Fair.
On a personal level (through his calligraphy) he is passionate to improve personal certificates and change the perception of such awards that seem undervalued by the ordinariness of those off-the-shelf in the market. During lockdown he was able to inspire many children to explore and develop their own creativity through greeting card design; he continues to teach online courses to children across Nepal and India. It is amazing how calligraphy finds its way into all corners of commerce and ceremony.
Calligraphy has long been Anil’s passion, and in later years it has become the abiding occupation. Anil has a studio called Calliman at the Kathmandu Art House, and a genuine passion for bringing people together – a result of his personal background and a desire to see a better world.