“I have a principle – I have never regretted doing anything. My idea is don’t do something you’d regret, and if you’ve already done it, don’t regret it.
It could be a mistake, but you learned from it. And if there’s a learning, there’s no need to regret it.”
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“I’ve been writing stories since I was a little girl, so me ending up in marketing wasn’t surprising. I went from studying in Calcutta to working in Delhi, from writing for journalism to doing copywriting for agencies.
Writing has been one of the biggest influences for me – I used to write a lot of poems, prose, and philosophical one-liners. They became very personal and I knew I wanted them to stay with me. I wanted to get these imprinted somewhere, and at some point I thought – “maybe on my body?” That’s how it started.
I’m not a big believer in wearing jewelry, but when I was a kid I would love to get mehndi done. But it never looked like the normal mehndi designs – they always looked like tattoos, with writing etched into it somehow. I would also doodle tattoo designs on the back of all my notebooks. The inspiration came from there.
I’ve always had the gall to get a tattoo, even at about 13 or 14 years old I knew I wanted to get inked, but my parents were dead against it. My dad – who’s a criminal lawyer by the way – would say “if you get these you’re a criminal and I’m going to disown you!” Even now they don’t really understand it. My dad often forgets how many I have and he’ll do a double-take when I go home and ask “is that another new one?!” I’m constantly shocking him that way!
Growing up, I would see these popstars on TV with their ink and think it looked amazing. People like Rihanna, who has tattoos that look like the traditional rings Indian women used to wear, or Amy Winehouse – someone I love even if she had a troubled life – definitely inspire me. I adore their tattoos, especially the way they wear it like jewelry or adornment and not really to show it off.
To say I’m crazy about tattoos might be a bit extreme, but I definitely became very fond of them. If a friend is getting a tattoo, I’ll go with them and somehow wind up getting two as well!
I started getting tattoos once I started earning. I simply decided I was going to get it and my parents were going to be okay with it. I didn’t want to do something they would not be okay with, but I also knew I wanted to get inked.
At home, after me my younger brother started getting tattoos. He has four now. My mom tells me I was the bad influence in his life!
A Personal Journey
My first tattoo was in 2012 with Swati Singhal at Ink Movement. I absolutely loved this studio. I’d seen many studios at this point, especially in Goa, but they did not look clean. I felt like their syringes and needles were not sterilized or fresh, so I’d always had that fear. Swathi’s studio was very clean and they had the most amazing playlist! That was what drew me to them, so I got my first two tattoos from them.
The first I designed in a pattern such that there was one large S, and all the other letters of the alphabet were protruding out of it in some way. And I added ‘my faith’ to it – my faith being a reference to the faith I have in relationships and bonds.
Unfortunately, everyone who looked at it would say “Oh, you’re a fan of SRK!” That’s not what my tattoo was symbolic of, so I didn’t like having to constantly tell people that’s not what it was. Besides, some designs like musical notes became very popular by then and my S tattoo looked very similar to them. I was not okay with that. I like getting things that are very different. So years later after I found Trippink, I got it covered up.
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My second tattoo was on my ankle, just a sea wave and an anchor and it said ‘refuse to sink’. My artist wasn’t really convinced about the design but I was adamant and persuaded her. It was good, but it confused a lot of people. My idea was that even though an anchor was pulling me down, I would refuse to sink. But again, people were misinterpreting it, so I decided to get this covered up as well.
Since I was so happy with the work on my first coverup and my other tattoos, and I was unsure of what I wanted to do, I went to MK and told him to do whatever he wanted. This tattoo was completely his idea. It’s a night theme, the refuse to sink and waves are still there, then there’s water, the moon and the stars, and this side we see the ship.
A lot of people don’t like it. They tell me it looks like gangrene!
But I love it. MK was worried the colour would fade, but it hasn’t faded at all. This took four and a half hours, and this session was also the one where I learned a lot of things about tattoos. For simpler tattoos they usually use one needle, but for this they went up to thirteen needles because of the shading and detailing.
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After the first two, I got my next three tattoos done at another studio. One was with my mom and dad’s names, Priya and Prabodh. People often find something different when they look at it – “oh this is my name!” or “who is Priya? Are you a lesbian?” And my mom said “I know why you got this tattoo. You just wanted to impress us and try to convince us!”
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I also got the Portuguese term ‘nefelibata’ inked. It means ‘cloud walker’ or someone who is very imaginative but is always daydreaming. That’s completely me, which you probably noticed by now! My mind is always wandering somewhere, so that was something I wanted.
The last one, I know it looks very foolish, but it’s from Friends, the show. It was meant to signify two very important things.
I’ve been very lucky when it comes to friendship, I think it’s something I value the most. I have 2 best friends, they are my guardian angels. This is for them, and also the show because that show is very close to my heart, I can’t really explain why or how, but it just is. I have a lot of respect for the show. But as much as this means to me, it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to.
I actually didn’t like how any of them turned out, because I feel like they lack finesse. This was in 2014, so it was two years after my first two that I decided to get another tattoo in June, for my birthday. There was a lot of rush in the studio when I got it done. They did all three together. It took about 15 minutes. Maybe it was because I was getting a text tattoo and it was not something that needed a lot of effort, so they just did a quick job. That’s probably why it lacks finesse! But I wasn’t impressed by what I got, so I decided not to go back.
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Sine then, I’ve gotten all my tattoos done by MK at Trippink. My Buddha, ankle coverup, this lotus – even my mole! It’s funny, but I already had a mole and it was fading away, and I wanted to keep it!
My first tattoo with Trippink was the Buddha tattoo. I don’t really follow Buddhism, but I do meditate a lot and I find a lot of peace in doing that now. Sometimes I’ll even spend some time, as a way to cool off when I’m stressed, imagining what my next tattoo will be!
I’d had the Buddha tattoo on my mind for a long time but I wasn’t sure where to get it, or why. I knew I would get it at some point, so I actually went in thinking I’d get a smaller tattoo first before I trusted them with a bigger one.
I went to MK in July last year and told him I wanted a lotus. Padmini is a synonym for lotus, and she symbolizes the completeness of a woman. A woman is complete not when she’s married to a guy or has a kid, but she is already complete on her own. I showed him so many references – and he just nodded and said “okay, yeah, they’re good, but this won’t take long, maybe 15 minutes” – it took 5, by the way! – “is there anything else you want?”
It was already 7:30 in the evening at this point.
I started telling him about the Buddha tattoo idea, thinking I would get it from him the following week. He went “oh, you want a Buddha tattoo! Do you have some images?” I did have one I found on Instagram, and when I showed it to him it instantly clicked and he said “I’m doing this first and the lotus later”.
I was taken aback! “Really? You want to do this today?!”
He said “yeah, why not!” The studio was almost empty and he was free anyway, so we just did the tattoo. He already knew what he had to do, and he put in his own creativity and made some changes. It took two and a half hours, but it was worth it.
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About two to three days ago I decided I was ready to get another tattoo. I know what it’s going to be – it’s going to be my mom’s face, black and white, but based on a photo of her when she was younger.
I also want a Durga tattoo as a coverup. We actually fought a lot about that, me and MK! There was a lot of back and forth and cancelled appointments. He found a Durga face that was really nice, but it was too big and I wasn’t ready for that yet.
There’s one more tattoo planned and that one is going to be completely MK’s idea. He said “I’m going to decide the design and everything, you’ll just have to be the canvas”. He’s ready, but I’m still not sure about it!
On Judgements and Philosophies
My tattoos aren’t really out of any whimsical or impish nature of mine. Although I am impulsive, I am always sure about what I want. I’ll suddenly feel like I want to get a tattoo and I want to get it today itself. But I do my research, so I always know what I want, why, and where. It’s just a matter of when.
I have a principle – don’t do something you’d regret, and if you’ve already done it, don’t regret it. It could be a mistake, but you learned from it. And if there’s a learning, there’s no need to regret it.
When it comes to judgements, I’ve never really cared about what people thought. To me, if you’re judging me based on my tattoos, then I don’t want you. Even when somebody looks at me, my tattoos are not the first thing they see.
Well except for this one, this just sort of gives it away!
But the comments about my first tattoo being because I’m an SRK fan or my anklet looking like gangrene – I find those so weird. I don’t know where people get these ideas from. Even with my Friends tattoo, I’ve gotten a lot of negative feedback such as “are you crazy, it’s just a show” or “this is so childish.”
If it is someone I really know and care about, I know they already know why I have it. But if it’s someone who doesn’t get it, like my mom, they’ll say things like “tum pagal ho gaye ho” (“you’ve gone insane”). You can say that, that’s your perspective and I wouldn’t disrespect you for that, but to me it’s very important.
I love it, and I’m never going to regret it.
Tattoos are my Jewelry
I always liked the concept of tattoos as jewelry. Even as a kid I never thought they were something flashy or fancy. Just like the people who inspire me, not one of my tattoos have to do with showing off, they’re very personal. I don’t care what people think, but that’s also not what my tattoos are meant to signify. It’s a personal affection. They also don’t define me at all.
After nine tattoos, I thought it might be time to stop. My family obviously agrees! I used to tell my mom that five was my favourite number so I’d get five…I didn’t even notice when I crossed that number!
But being covered in tattoos, that’s never going to happen. Because my tattoos are like jewels, they’re on very selected places. I don’t want something that’s there for everyone to see. Most of my tattoos are hardly visible. It’s easy to cover them up if I want to.
My back tattoo, for instance, most people don’t even know I have that. Tattoos are something that’s a part of me, something that I believe in. I believe in Buddha, and it’s like he’s watching my back. All my tattoos are personal that way.
On Inspiring and Being Inspired
I think I do inspire people, especially when it comes to styling. It might be funny to hear but I like to think of myself as a trendsetter. Back in 2010, I use to wear dhotis and I used to stitch them so they’d have that twirl, and I used to wear these kurtas. And years later, Kareena wore the same thing in a movie. I like to brag about that!
A lot of people have seen my tattoos and enquired about them. And I have recommended MK to all of them. But that wasn’t really me inspiring people – they all had an idea of what they wanted and were looking for a good artist.
I think my niece, who is five years old, is most inspired by me! She drew our faces on a card once, and on my body she drew tattoos. She says she’s going to get tattoos when she gets a bit bigger. Sometimes she’ll just draw something on her wrist and arms, saying she’s got tattoos like her aunty. I really like that, and thankfully my sister doesn’t mind! But it’s also overwhelming to have such a strong influence on a kid that way.
In my office there are two interns who really want tattoos. One is deathly afraid of needles and has been wanting a tattoo for two and a half years now, and the other is a designer who keeps sending me designs and I keep adding them to my list of what I want! There’s one more guy who is very secretive about what he wants, but he often tells me that people with a lot of tattoos often look a certain way and mine don’t look out of place or weird, so maybe he’ll get some too.
They all have ideas of what they want. My advice is simple – go for it, but make sure you’re getting something you really, really want.
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We would like to thank Arpita for sharing her fascinating and unique philosophy and journey with us!
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Have your own stories to tell? Head on over to jhaiho.com to book your tattoo appointment and get inked today!
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Looking for more tattoo inspiration? Browse our site!
- Trippink Tattoos
- Dedication Tattoos: Honouring Family
- Quote Tattoos: On Life, Love, and Self-Discovery
- Tattoo Myths: Do People Regret Tattoos When They Get Older?
Looking for the right tattoo artist? Visit Tattoo Artists in Bangalore: Finding the Best Artists in Town
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