Experience Midlife crisis can sometimes land you in a prickly situation
A stern “Why are there such few Coimbatore-centric stories?” from the boss in Chennai sets me off. A tattoo parlour has just opened in town, and I decide I'll write about that. And since I am in a mood to do something wild, why not a tattoo? “Do it before the other maamis in town get there,” urges my friend Latha. So, checking out a nalla naal, I sally forth to get inked. I wonder if I am the first 50-year-old in Coimbatore to do so. I watch Miami Ink and know what to expect. What is it to be? Will and Kate's new signage? A naamam? (It might mollify the mother and the mother-in-law.) A helicopter perhaps, to appeal to an ex-Air Force hubby? Naaah, not enough X factor in that.
Maybe they can help at Irezumi. The word is Japanese and means ‘body art'. Located on D.B. Road, R.S. Puram, the basement studio has just the right combination of cool (lime green and navy walls) and comfort (Buddha smiles from the walls). Naveen Kumar and V. Krishnan co-own Irezumi, and the studio is already doing brisk business in Chennai. Krishnan explains how the process works. “Some clients know exactly what they want done. But many are undecided. We talk to them and ask them their likes and dislikes to get an idea, after which we show them a huge bank of designs on the computer. We have eight to 10 GB of tattoos to choose from.”
I pick out my design and sit on a comfortable chair with my arm thrown over a cushioned prop. John Denver softly sings “Country Roads, Take Me Home”, and I turn my face away.
The design is transferred to my upper arm. Krishnan selects a needle, fixes it to the tattoo gun and dips it in ink. “Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up,” I scream silently as the gun hovers inches from my skin.
Krish tells me how he encourages his clients to think hard and long about the tattoo they want. A tattoo is permanent and indelible. Getting rid of it is painful and expensive. Youngsters come in wanting to have the names of their girl/boy friend tattooed. Usually they are in the flush of new-found love, smiles Krish, and he has had to tactfully tell them that they may not feel the same way in a few days' time. He often asks them to go home and come back the next day. “If they still feel the same way, we go ahead,” he says and adds, “Usually, they change their minds.”
Is Krish trying to tell me something here? He has fallen silent. Is he praying? Can I flee? What if I can't stand the pain? What if I bleed to death… “Don't be silly,” I tell myself. “You had two normal deliveries and lived to tell the tale.” The needle suddenly buzzes to life. Ow! But it is only like a prolonged pinprick as Krish gets to work. “Only the outline may hurt a bit as the design has so many twists and turns and is dense. Filling the colours in is relatively painless,” he says chattily.
I hardly pay attention. By now Abba has replaced Denver and is ominously singing “SOS”. Honestly, the first few minutes are uncomfortable. After all, someone is drawing patterns on your skin with a needle.
But it does get less painful as the artist starts colouring in. I open my eyes and am relieved to find there are no rivulets of blood flowing down my arm to pool around my feet. “The threshold of pain differs with each person,” says Krishnan. He remembers being forced to abandon a tattoo half way because a client couldn't take the pain. “We made slight changes in it and left it at that. It still looked good, but not as much as it would have had we finished it,” he says. So I bite my lips and wait till he is through. I am not about to have a half-baked tattoo on my arm.
Finally, “Okay ma'am, you can have a look now,” says Krish. I do, and am delighted. Oh yes, the tattoo is a lotus, after my name.