Tattoo mania all around

Bumped into a friend the other day at Shoppers Stop, both of us rushing to bag the only vacant cash counter and almost collided, but collision averted at the nth minute as we recognised each other and converted the elbowing out of other from first spot at cash counter to cheerful hugging and air kissing.

And then I spotted them. Not one, not two, not three but what seemed like a rash of tattoos on her body. On her arm. On her wrist. On the nape of her neck. On her shoulder blade. All devilishly drawn and intricately cute. Some Sanskrit Shloka type. The names of her two children. Some crappy dove and rose peace type image which I wouldnt wish on a Hallmark card, leave alone live skin. I winced and withdrew from the hurried embrace. And she saw my eyes on all her tattoos. And me being me, and being someone who can always be counted on to say the right diplomatic thing at the right time and make anyone who has a conversation with me feel good and happy and warm, blurted out, “What the hell have you done to yourself?”

Of course the ground didnt open up and swallow me right now. But of course, I wish it had. But since it didnt I had to stand grinning like a fool and thinking hard of how I could squirm out of having said that.

The neurons fire delayed responses when one commits a conversational boo boo. And she did look rather hurt, so I quickly applied verbal balm. “Must have hurt like hell!”

She knew she was in the presence of an evolved soul who could by her sheer presence bring peace and calm to her surroundings and bring her to a higher plane of consciousness.  And so she replied. “It did. But once you have had children, whats a little tattoo.”

It was my turn to rub it in, with a grinding stone level of diplomacy. “Thats not a little tattoo, thats a bloody Ajanta Ellora fresco all over you.”

But within me, to be honest, and this is a secret not to be revealed in public, I was strangely envious. Let me admit it, I am a coward. I have a pain threshold that begins at zilch. At the promise of a headache, I take three Disprins. At the hint of a niggling tooth, I demand to be taken to the hospital on a stretcher with glucose attached to a drip and a vein.

Therefore the unspoken admiration for anyone who can a) willingly take on pain, and b) pay for it, and c) choose something to have on their body which cannot be washed off or taken off and sent to the laundry. Or passed on to the servants if one bores of it.

She was, I think, the fifth friend I’d met in the past month sporting black and red and such like on her body. Some other online friends had also gone in for a tattoo. And all had their hotness quotient rise up a couple of notches with the tattoos in place. Add to it, the hint of the bad girl that comes through when there is a tattoo on your body is something, I am told, men find alluring. I’d stick to batting my eyelashes. Thats worked for me so far. And the deep look of interest and then looking away and never looking back. Easier than poking myself with needles.

Anyway, this brought me face to face with certain facets of myself that I had hitherto prefered ignored. Most notably, my fear of the needle. My hands tremble to thread one too. And secondly the fear of the permanent, the immutable. Who is to say what I like today I will like tomorrow and what if I hate it tomorrow? And how do I ever come to a conclusion about what I like, I need constant change, deciding on a particular design for a single tattoo is like a life sentence to me.

And yes, keep the Beckhams and the Jolies and the few odd souls who look good with tattoos aside, for me, most often faded tattoos make the owner and the skin look grubby. Unless the person is sensible enough to keep getting touch ups periodically.

I remember when I was a little girl, visiting Bandra fair, I would see the tattoo artists sitting on their benches, in those glorious pre historic days of no Hep A and B, and when AIDS was a word third world countries used in missives to beg of generous help from world bodies like the UN, and hop frantically from leg to leg demanding that the mother allow me to make at least a K on my hand. How would she recognise me if she lost me in the crowd? Obviously, my mother was made of sterner stuff than Hindi film mothers are made of because she would always flat out refuse and ask me if I wanted to look like a slumdweller.

It really did seem like a tempting prospect to me.

Then I chanced on a luckless relative who had in a bout of self inflicted piety gone and got a cross tattoed at the base of his thumb, which got gangrenous and infected and almost let to the thumb being knocked off, which persuaded me to reconsider my obsession with tattoos.

And of course, the idea that the needle gets poked into the skin one zillion times also played its part in forcing my decision.

I know I will never get a tattoo. I can never make any permanent commitment to any form of body art. And I cannot use my body as an easel. And I am morbidly afraid of a needle, any needle. Yup. Coward. Thats the word you were hunting for.

What about you? Do you have a tattoo? If yes, what is it of, and where is it, and why did you get it? And what when you tire of it? Something like a sugar daddy marrying his arm candy, I might think. Painful to get, painful to get rid of. And would you ever get a tattoo?

Any other lily livered types like me around, raise yer hands high!


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Tattoo mania all around

  1. i rasie my hand- but can i get a temp one done- the do and rub off after a day… that makes me hot too right? and its painless?


  2. Devaki says:

    Lily livered type, yes ma’m! 🙂


  3. Kiran says:

    Kya yaar ! I have been dreaming for ages about a cutesy butterfly tattoo on my ankle and had been mustering up the courage to do it (also want to get my belly button pierced but a flat tummy precedes that and I have lost hopes on it :(…….anyhow, after reading your post and being reminded of those pins and pain, I have changed my mind..Raising my hand high high to the sky – I am a lily livered type 😦


  4. dipali says:

    I’m OK with the pain I think, unless my threshold has gone down in recent years-it’s the permanence which gets to me. I can’t even stand faded mehndi on my hnds, let alone a dull tattoo.
    But I do find them cool on other people!


  5. Cee Kay says:

    *Raising my hand high*

    Yes miss!! Me a chicken when it comes to needles miss. Don’t have one, nevr gonna get one, miss. I HAVE thought about it though – but somehoe the thought always turns me off.


  6. Broom says:

    Have one. LOVE IT.
    It was VERY painful and I have a very low pain threshold too. In fact the person who encouraged me to get it was my BFF & when I asked her if it was painful, she said the same thing about labour pain etc. Of course I’ve never had kids so that explanation makes no sense to me.

    But I don’t regret it & want another. I had heard that tattoos are addictive and it’s the truth! I really do want another.

    I haven’t tired of it & don’t think I will. It’s been about 2.5 years since I got mine.

    Go for it!

    PS. It’s not just the men that find it attractive. TG has one around her ankles (mines on my shoulder/back) and I absolutely love it.


  7. Broom says:

    oh & it’s a sunflower. and it’s very very very pretty!


  8. sraikh says:

    Okay I am yearning for one. My 9 yr old has designed a rose with 4 As as its petals. My kids all have names starting with A. I am going to do it before I turn 31(in Nov.) I have a high pain threshold so am now worried about that, what I am worried about how it would look when I am 60 and have old liver spots and wrinkly skin. Thats what is holding me back…


  9. Shobana says:

    I am a wus where needles are concerned. So I am mighty sure, that I will not step into a tatoo parlour.


  10. I’m not a tattoo person – guess that makes me so uncool! 😦


  11. Altoid says:

    How did you know! There are stories of me, as a child, running down the streets as our family friend doctor and his compounder were plotting to jab me with what they called vaccine. I used to scream and flee at dentists, eye doctors and the like. Pain threshold? I have NONE. I just dont do pain.

    So, without having to raise my hand, you’ve got my answer. Those that tattoo, good for them. I am glad my ears were pierced early enough to have no vestige of memory left of the pain. I aint piercing anywhere else either.

    Piercing and poking- better luck in my next birth.

    Amen 😀


  12. Broom says:

    Also thought you’d enjoy this timely article in the NYT:


  13. WSW says:

    Yes chicken raising hand up.
    Thought I will go all adventurous and get a tattoo. Even picked up the design. Then chickened out.No guts.
    What to say about tattoo am scared to even get my hair colored,what if they fall out in clumps?


  14. RaisingT says:

    hey I have one… a little butterfly in one corner ..on my lower back.. It hurt like hell but I love it.. just that I dont get to show it much.. have to get another one .. somewhere thast easier to flaunt 🙂


  15. Dottie says:

    no tattooes. none wanted. scared shitless of the needle.


  16. Priyanka says:

    Yup, have one. And I must say, it didn’t hurt one bit. I kid you not! The guy from whom I got it done told me about the pain areas (anywhere right above the bone) which hastily made me change the area where I wanted to get a tattoo from the lower back to the fleshier shoulder part. Just felt a little sore for a couple of days. I love it and you are right Kiran, so does my hubby. How I got it was not a great experience though – my father (yes, I got it done that long ago) visited the place a handful of times to make sure the place and equipment was safe. Talk about embarrassing a teen!!!
    Oh, and its a symbol of eternity with script written around it. It took me 3 months to decide on the design. And no, I don’t regret it at all… It actually gives me motivation to wear (and fit into) off shoulder tops 😉


  17. ss says:

    Er – am with you…hand High up!


  18. momstir says:

    Hopped over from karmickids. Fun post. I’m so glad you wrote it coz I went from one end of the tattoo mania spectrum to the other. Which is to say that I plain think tattoos look ugly. No problem with pain though, I labored through mine. About 10 years ago, I was dying to get a tattoo but got so caught in doing so many other things I wanted too that thankfully, a tattoo was quickly forgotten.

    Love your writing 🙂


  19. Abha says:


    i have finally decided to have one!! but something small and not more than two depending on how the first once goes!! :p

    ofcos there many a slip between the needle and the skin and i hope i dont chicken out at the last minute!! 😀

    loved the post as always!!




  20. a passer-by who stopped to read, like what i read and will return 🙂

    and yes i do have a tatoo. a butterfly on my lower back. hurt like hell. not bored. got it on a whim. No regret. will get another one. soon 🙂


  21. oh btw, i’m adding your blog to my list of ‘blogs i read’. hope that’s ok 🙂

    cheers. have a great day


  22. Aathira says:

    I want one – > Too scared of pain – > Don’t see how I am gonna get one!

    I think I will go for something in some point of time… maybe those instant do’s.

    PS: I added your blog to the ones I follow.


  23. 4lorac says:

    strange I land on this post as a tat is exactly what I have been thinking of. I dont know exactly what I want, was looking at a peacock feather one, but dam, its gonna hurt. all my boys and other half have tats, they dont seem to suffer. theyre tastefully done too, no naked women or strange words. btw…as far as old and wrinkly, I am going tobe OMG 56 in like 4 monthes and dont look at my ownself as old and wrinkly.
    Its all what you believe in about the tats….if its special meaning for you, like your babies name and BD or your hubbys initials or a little bird, what ever, like you said, its permanent.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s