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An offering of peace to put a photographer at ease; a lover’s scar from a time not far; the Goddess of strength to take a girl to many lengths; and wings to let their hearts sing.

Inspired by Pen & Ink by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton, a lovely illustrated tattoo book on our shelves, this bpb story gets the 'once upon a time' on tattoos from Mumbai and Delhi. After weeks of chatting with a swarm of people and taking notes about broken hearts, lost paths and new adventures, we picked eight, not necessarily with the best designs, but the most intriguing stories. This, plus their ink artist recommendations.  

Karuna Parikh, Travel Writer/ TV Show Host

Karuna Edit8701200

Age: 28

Number of tattoos: 10 (including a henna pattern sleeve, a deer head and a scorpion) 

"Sometimes random people I barely know walk up to me and say, “Okay, now no more” or “I don’t like this tattoo of yours, why did you get it?” I feel like it says something about society and the way people view a woman’s body as public property. It’s like they feel entitled to have an opinion about what we do with our bodies. Saying you don’t like my tattoo is essentially like walking up to someone and saying, “Hey! I don’t like your nose.” 

Next tattoo idea: Planning on working a Buddhist Mandala into the sleeve.

Recommended artist: Skindeep tattoo studio, 991, 100 Feet Road, HAL 2nd stage, Indira Nagar, Bengaluru, call 9886321804, view their Facebook page here.

Sofia Ashraf, Copywriter, O&M

 Sofia Collage BWedit

Age: 27

Number of tattoos: 2 (Archaeopteryx and 'Miles To Go Before I Sleep')

“Having moved from a traditional conservative Muslim family (I used to wear a Burkha) to an atheist standpoint; from Chennai to Mumbai; and being torn between all my creative pursuits (writing, art and rapping), I felt like the Archaeopteryx is a symbol that defines me. It's an ancient creature that existed between two kingdoms-reptile and bird. Sometimes when I get tired of explaining this to people, I just have fun with it. I once told someone that I asked for a butterfly and this is what I got!”

Next tattoo idea: Working on an inscription for my back. I want to pen the words myself, so it's still a work in progress.

Recommended artist: Iron Buzz Tattoos, 187, Aram Nagar part 2, JP Road, Versova, Andheri (W), call 9833879638.


Ishaan Nair, Fashion Photographer/ Film Director

Ishaan870Age: 29 

Number of tattoos: 8 (including an arrow, origami crane)

“Getting a tattoo has always worked as a kind of catharsis for me. When there’s a significant change in my life, I find the need to get a tattoo. Of course this is not something I’m mindful of, it was only when someone asked me about my tattoos did I realise that it’s a pattern I follow. These are mostly instinct driven. A lot of people ask if I have any regrets or if I ever get bored of them. I find that ridiculous because that’s like asking if you ever get bored of looking at your face! Well, do you?”

Next tattoo idea: I’ve been thinking about getting a pair of headphones for a while, but I’m not sure anymore.

Recommended artist/studio: Kraayonz Tattoo Studio, shop 6, near Mini Punjab Hotel and Hawaiian Shack, 16th Road, Bandra (W), call 9820342044.


Reema Prasanna, Digital Media Marketing Executive

Ree Collage againBW870

Age: 29

Number of tattoos:  1 

"I’ve been a student of Indology and have wanted to get a tattoo of Goddess Kali for about ten years now. I had trouble zeroing in on the right image, and then I came across this Devdutt Patnaik sketch in a book. I like the fact that Kali isn’t overtly embellished or beautified in this image. She’s just herself, in all her glory. Everything for this tattoo was crowd sourced, from the ink artist to the encouragement. I live tweeted my tattoo experience because I felt like people needed to know that it’s not a scary experience and the pain is manageable. Plus, I was getting the female symbol of strength tattooed on me, so I guess that helped." 

Next tattoo idea: I’m toying with symbols of speed and freedom. I’m thinking of either a horse or a bicycle.

Recommended artist: Sandip Majumder, shop no 12, Runwal Commercial Complex, opposite Nirmal Lifestyle Mall, near Amruta Hotel, L.B.S. Marg, Mulund (W), call 9920309663 / 9821177758, see the website here.


Jarrod Julius, Technology Consultant

Jarrod BW870

Age: 35

Number of tattoos: 7 (including a raven and Nordic patterns)

“Most of my tattoos are well thought out, intricate designs that relate to my Nordic heritage. I’ve travelled a lot and have got each one from a different artist, so they remind me of a specific time in my life. The good thing about being an expat with lots of tattoos in this city is that a lot of times when beggars come up to me, they forget about asking me for money, and are curious to know more about the tattoos."

Next tattoo idea: The last tattoo I got was with a hand poke needle and not a machine. I still have those needles and colours. I'm planning on doing a stylised bird by myself for the next one.

Recommended artist:  Savio D’silva, Seven Bungalows, Andheri (W), call 9820515377. 


Samiyah Saud, Tattoo Artist 

Samiyah BW collage 870

Age:  31

Number of tattoos:  22 (including her band logo, an owl, marijuana leaf hidden by a skull)

"Most of my tattoos are instinctive but have emotions or stories around them that are relevant to me and my journey. I think it's silly when people come to me with downloaded images off the Internet. Why would you want something generic on yourself? My favourite tattoo is the one I have of my five-year-old daughter and myself (see zoomed in image above). We have a band called 'The Little People.' This is our logo. "

Next tattoo idea: I have about fifty ideas in my head. I need to finalise on one soon.

Recommended artist: Call Samiyah Saud at 9967921383, Tattoo Star Collective, Kamala Kunj, second floor, 13th/18th Road, near Fabindia, Khar (W), see their Facebook page here.


Jasjit Singh Chowhan, Entrepreneur/Marathon runner/ Trekker


Age: 56

Number of tattoos:  1 (Scar from The Lion King)

"I had always wanted to get a tattoo but could never make the decision to go ahead with it. I guess I was just concerned about whether it would look decent on me. About four years ago, my daughters took me to a tattoo parlour and told me it was their birthday gift to me. Eventually I payed for it myself - they told me they’d pay me back. I’m still waiting for that to happen. I picked Scar because I'm a Leo and I really liked this design."

Next tattoo idea: Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar.

Recommended artist: Kevin Andrade, The Flying Lotus, shop 6, A building, Sunder Cooperative Housing Society, off Veera Desai Road, Andheri (W), call 9833345651, see Facebook page here.


 Kamini Ganguli, Ex Teach For India Fellow/ School Teacher

Kamini collage BWfinalAge: 26

Number of tattoos: 1 (Inspired by The Little Prince) 

"My mother used to read The Little Prince to me when I was younger. This image is from that book. Depending on how you see it, it could be a lopsided top hat or an elephant inside a boa constrictor, according to the book. It’s a great reminder for me to always retain a child-like wonder. It’s made me more conscious of the things I say to my students and of the effect it could have on their creativity."

Next tattoo idea: I’m planning on getting a scientific diagram of the Aquaris constellation.

Recommended artist/ studio: Inkalab Tattoo Studio, A3, Ashiana Park Society, opposite Fiat Caffe, Koregaon Park, Pune. Call 9823069638, see their Facebook page here.

Photo credits: 

For Karuna Parikh- Nayantara Parikh

For Kamini Ganguli- Alisha Mahen

For Ishaan Nair- Mridul Sen

The rest by Smitha Menon & Kuldeep Pathak. 


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