Manish Kapur, 34, a Delhi-based marketing professional, just cannot come to terms with the fact that his bad handwriting cost him a lucrative job offer. Last month, he was asked to write a 500-word piece about himself in an interview. He had a perfect CV and the interview went well but he never heard from the company.
Kapur later found out that his prospective employers could not quite figure out what he had written as his handwriting was too unintelligible.
“My handwriting has gone from bad to worse in the past few years, what with the fact that I rarely put pen to paper all these years, except when signing some documents. I cannot blame anyone; often I cannot read my own handwriting. But now I am trying to sort out this problem,” says Kapur, who has enrolled in a handwriting improvement course at an institute in the capital.
Kapur is not the only one. Many like him are making a beeline for handwriting institutes, which are mushrooming in Delhi like never before. Many of them believe bad handwriting is the result of excessive use of touch screens and keyboards in this digital age. While many of these institutes promise to fix an individual’s handwriting in a week, others promise to do so in a few hours flat.
“Unlike a few years back, now a lot of our students are adults, mostly professionals such as doctors, engineers and chartered accountants who are beginning to realise the perils of bad handwriting. They do not want to learn cursive style but readable print style,” says Himanshu Singh, national coordinator, Write Right, a handwriting institute with 28 centres across Delhi.
“The excessive use of touch screen devices with auto spellcheck and keyboard means that what people write with hand is often not just unintelligible but full of spelling and grammatical errors,” says Singh, who is often invited by companies to conduct workshops to improve handwriting of employees.
Bad handwriting, he says, has serious implications. “People need to understand that there is a direct relation between penmanship and cognitive development of brain. What you write on paper is scribbled on your mind, so those write with hand are fast learners too.”
In fact, Rajesh Kumar, a chartered accountant, joined a handwriting class after he realised that his cheques were often returned by the bank because his signature was unintelligible. “These days I get many executives who were scolded in their offices for bad handwriting. A lot of people are now realising that their handwriting reflects their personality and it needs to be improved,” says Deepshikha Behl, who runs a Write Right centre in south Delhi.
Sunil Tyagi, chief handwriting trainer at Saras Calligraphy, testifies to the growing rush at his writing institutes. In fact, such is the demand for the handwriting classes that the number of Saras centres has gone up from six a couple of years back to 22 now in Delhi. “We are growing at a whopping 50 percent a year. The number of adults attending our writing improvement classes is growing like never before. “We take a writing test and design a customised handwriting improvement module for an individual,” says Tyagi.
He says his institute’s Delhi centres together train about 500 people every month. The institute, he claims, has built its own courses with its own unique methodology. At Saras, one can see people drawing letters in the air with their pen -- and chin. “This is a visualisation technique; the idea is to enable people to ingrain the correct form of a letter in mind. After regularly forming letters in the air, when they finally draw these letter on paper, they get the form right and there is a visible improvement in their handwriting,” says Tyagi. “Writing is basically a photogenic memory; your hand draws what your brain says. In fact, your writing can reveal what was the state of mind when you wrote something on paper”.
Himanshu Singh agrees, “A lot of companies these days using handwriting to judge the qualities such as team spirit, patience levels of their employees. Your writing tells a lot about you — if you are, cool, patient or rebellious”. While most of these handwriting institutes offer one to two week courses, Mohan Ray who runs ‘Institute of Healthy Hand Writing’ , claims to cure your handwriting problem in half an hour.
“I have developed an unconventional approach to improve handwriting, which is all about replacing faulty strokes with convenient strokes, which immediately results in ease and fluency in one’s handwriting,” says Ray.
Ray says a lot of people suffer from ‘writer’s cramp’ -focal hand dystonia that affects writing. “It can make writing become painful and written work less legible. I believe that in this age of touch screens, people hardly ever write anything on paper with a pen, which has the potential to cause this problem. These gadgets are simply making us lazy,” says Ray who offers handwriting improvement session online.
Ray trains about 500 school children all over the country and about 30 professionals every month in good handwriting. “In Delhi, a large chunk of Ray’s students are IAS aspirants. I am like a motor mechanic, if your motor is not repaired, you do not have to pay me,” says Ray.