Sunday, June 29, 2008

Just Do it !

I got my jeep, my tattoo and as incongruous as it may sound, alongside, I have also started teaching at a Business School! Thats some work and it just proves that all that you read in those coffee table motivation books is actually true. Its possible and you can do it. If you try. If you are wondering what's my sermon about - I wrote a 'wannado' list a couple of weeks back

I have also made a new friend - 86 year old retired Sikh Doctor who now lives in Canada and who I found accidently on a yahoo group that I subscribe to. I call him Taya Ji since he says I remind of his niece Gurmit who lives in Delhi and he has taken it upon himself to teach me about religion. He sent me the first lesson on e mail - an overview about the beginning of religion and the history and essence of prevalent religions. All written by him, specially for me.

But its not as rosy as it sounds. I can't maneuver that car into my jam packed office car park so in the bargain I park half a kilometer away ( some exaggeration since it explains the situation) and walk to office with the luggage that I like to carry with me everyday. I've been lucky enough to only catch the odd drizzle till now but its still 2 months of monsoon in Delhi.

The Tattoo ? I am a wee bit embarrassed each time I extend my hand to people at meetings or while meeting strangers. I am always wondering if it 'slots' me. If it appears that I am trying to prove something ? If it makes me seem insecure, rebel with a cause ? Or maybe its all in my mind. My children greeted my tattoo with wonder and curiosity. My son thought it was the batman symbol upside down ! My daughter wanted to know how it was done. My mother in law chanced upon with curiosity then disgust. She wanted to know if it would remain forever.

My husband did not notice it !!!

Till finally , few days ago I extended my arm in front of him and said "I got a tattoo".

And teaching a class of 45 grown up post graduates is mean business. I slog the nights to study what I have to teach them. I travel an hour to reach the campus and its a bit disconcerting till now, but its been only 2 classes. I am eager to know if they think I am making sense. I want to make a difference - I am fascinated by teaching since it makes me drive harder to excel myself. It makes me better person than I could have been otherwise. But it burns me out and most days after the Kids, their holidays, the chores at home, office and teaching I am really tired.

Its now quite a climb to get the next one on my list.

Got to learn to swim this summer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WJKKWJKF ! Been there, Done it !!

The tattoo place was inside a Schwarzkopf hair salon and they made me sit at the reception with a big Plasma TV on the facing wall. Two grown up people - a man and a woman were standing in front of the TV and watching cartoons on Nickolodeon. At first I thought they may just be inanely staring at the screen in want of nothing else to stare at (like me) but then I noticed they were both giggling intermittently. It was the Ninja Hattori show. Ruhi also watches it at home and I always thought it was one of those morbid cartoons which are meant to be mean and exciting. But it suddenly dawned upon me that Ninja Hattori is actually comical ! Never heard Ruhi laughing though.....anyway, after a bit, a heavily tattoed young guy came and looked me up. He asked me what I wanted.

I told him I wanted a 'Khanda' on my wrist and since he seemed quite blank, I started drawing it in air while explaining what it was, all the time wondering what he was doing in Delhi if he didnt know what a 'Khanda' was. As I went on. he calmly went behind the reception desk, browsed through a couple of folders and opened two designs of the 'khanda' and asked "which one ?"

We disagreed upon the design that would suit my wrist and I finally went by his selection. He disagreed with my decision to keep it small, but gave in quickly. He printed out the artwork, I disagreed with the size yet again and he took another printout which was smaller and we settled for that. On the spur of the moment I suddenly decided that I wanted the tattoo on the upper forearm instead of the wrist. I asked him for his opinion and he agreed and said it would also be much less painful on the forearm.

We went into a tiny cubicle which had something like a dentist's high chair besides a stool and a red bean bag. I sat on the high chair while he sat on a stool at my feet. He was very business like as he went about wearing gloves, showing me a fresh needle and taking out the ink etc. In the midst of it all he said : "why a 'Khanda ?"

I wasn't expecting him to ask me personal questions. He didn't even look friendly enough so I decided not to tell. I paused a second and then said "Long story".

It works ever time and he seemed to give up further conversation on the subject.

He pasted the artwork sticker on my arm and as he picked up the needle I asked him " Is it going to be very painful ?" He gave me a blank stare and said nothing. I thought that look meant my question was silly. So in answer to that look I said " Oh OK, so its going to be like pin pricks ?". He stared again and I thought then that he had nodded though I am not sure now.

When he started working the buzzing needle on me, I died.

The sharp shooting pain made me clench my fist in pain. He gave me a dirty look and stopped the needle to hiss "DON"T DO THAT".

It was slightly better after that. I clenched my teeth forever to control the pain and thought about my 2 Caesarian operations and that it could not pain more than the stitches. And then he started asking a volley of questions - If I was married, what I do, how many kids, where I live, how I came to know of him, if my family knew and approved of my decision... etc etc. I think asking questions is a useful trick to distract the 'patient's' mind away from the pain.

After the introductory set of questions were over he asked " so tell me the long story". It was paining so much that I didn't care as long as my mind was distracted enough to talk. I told him about my mixed marriage. And that this was my way of reinforcing my identity that will go down with me - just in case I do go into a grave instead of a pyre !

He said "8 years and you are still struggling." I told him that in fact my struggle had only just begun. I had been happily immune till a few years ago.

He asked : Did they give you a new name ? I told him the name a few aliens call me by : "Sara".

He said it was a nice name. Then he said " I wonder what name I will get !". He told me he was seeing a muslim girl and his prospective mother in law was hunting for a nice new name for him ! We both laughed. I suggested he should chose between Amir Khan & Shahrukh and that he should get an OM tattoo on his forehead ! I didn't notice the pain too much as we talked though I winced every now and then when he filled in the color. I now know that tattoos are not for the faint hearted !

Job over he wrapped my bleeding arm in a plastic wrap with strict instructions not to open the cling film before 4 hours. No water on the 'wound' for 10 days. No swimming, no sun, no waxing for 2 months and sunscreen on tattoo after that. The wound would develop a scab which should fall off in 10 days but I should not try to peel or touch it !

By the end of the 45 minutes, we were friends and knew a lot about each other ! Strange world.

I came back to office with a bleeding cling wrapped arm and had to leave immediately for a conference. On the way I bought some bandage and wrapped my arm in it. At the conference one of my interns who calls me 'madam' came to escort me inside and politely asked " ma'm how did you get hurt" I told him "Not hurt, I got my arm tattooed today". He smiled indulgently with disbelief, since I am known to say funny things at odd times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

About wearing it on my sleeve !

I've been trying hard to up the score on my 'wanna-do' list ! I am so conditioned to make Urgent/Important lists at work that I do it for just everything ! My priority workings get the the tattoo on the top primarily because I am convinced that I may just lose the urge if I let more time pass and that would mean I would let go my lifetime opportunity to hypothetically tell my kids in about a decade or so that I used be so 'cool' !

But more importantly and more seriously I do get a nagging feeling that I am actually already too old to be getting my first tattoo and if I delay it any further, embarrassment may get the better of me !

So anyway, I asked around and did some finding out. I got to know that there is a 'Devils Tatoo' right under my nose - a few feet away from office. I spent another couple of days deciding if a religious tattoo will upset my husband's family or if they may interpret it as a mark of my wearing my 'identity' on my sleeve....I wondered if I should discuss the tattoo with my husband and then I realised that he would be absolutely mortified by the idea of the cliched dirty needles and the hypochondriac that he is, he will blame all my future ailments on my precious tattoo. All things considered, I realise that if its Ok for me to get my hair straightened without discussing with him ( hypothetically again!), it should be OK to get the tattoo !!

I called up Devil's Tattoos number in my best voice and an irritated guy's voice snapped back at me. I thought he hadnt heard me right so I repeated sweetly again "Is that Devil's Tattoos?"

Irritated Voice " YES"

Its the tone that most Doctors have if you ever call them on their mobile. Its like, c'mon get it over with fast. I realised that I was actually unsure about what to ask him. I said : Where are you located ?"

Irritaed Voice (IV) : Basant Lok
Me: Errr I know that, any landmark ?
IV after 2 secs of silence, under clenched teeth : Above Hero Honda Showroom..
Me : Oh Ok, so how much do you charge?
IV : Rs 1500 for the first square inch madam..
Me : Ah Ok, so when can I come ?
IV is now losing it completely : NO ! You need an appointment first !
Me : ya, of course so when can I get an appointment ?
IV : Listen Madam, I am working just now, can't you call me later ?
Me : Of I am so sorry, I will call later but what is your name
IV under clenched teeth again : Lokesh

I made a mind picture of a generously tattooed guy with the phone under his ear and hands working the needle on the back of a pretty girl. Obviously he was irritated. I called back in 3 hours. In the interim I had my 'what- if' doubts again. Would I ever regret it ? Why a Khanda ? Is it a subconscious need to reinforce the fact that I am Sikh? What will I tell my children about its meaning and context?

When I called again the tattoo dude seemed relaxed. There was loud music in the background and he said the earliest he could give an appointment was on Friday, the 13th at 2.30 PM.