Monday, March 12, 2007

Phoenix Tattoo

It all started with Ajay a.k.a "kunnu" doing a tattoo, anyways everyone knew that he was a bit off his rocker . I have heard that some forms of madness are hereditary, but I never heard of any that was infectious.

But then here was Juwal who wanted to do a tattoo at my doorstep on a Sunday Morning at 6:45 A.M. "Well, that’s one new thing I've learnt about madness" I decided. After a quick shower and breakfast, off we went to Ibrahim Street, near commercial street in Bangalore. I was hoping that the "tattooer", whoever he was, had the sense not to open his shop on a Sunday.

Unfortunately for me(unfortunately for Juwal too) the shop was open. It was a shady setup and easy to miss. Mr.Cold Feet had caught up with Juwal by then, "should I do it da?", "will It pain a lot?", "a waste of good money isn’t it?".

This bugger had woken me up at 6:45 A.M on a Sunday morning and now has the audacity to think that he can back out... well I for one was not going to allow it!. "No problem dude, it does not pain much, in fact kunnu told me that he hardly felt it, C’mon you came all the way from Kerala paying a good 1000 rupees and now you want to back out?? crap man, don’t even think about it!!"

Juwal saw the supreme logic behind my argument(sheesh I should have been a football coach, I can give real good pep talks!) and nodded agreement(Ha! sucker!). The design was to be two dragons in combat. A show of "equality and symmetry", claimed Juwal. It must be the Dan Brown effect I thought, coz I did not see any symmetry in it.

Vijay K(K for Kreative??) was the "tattooer?" he had long hair and looked his part every bit, the type of guy that if you seem him on the street you would immediately associate him with tattoos and piercing and all other God forbidden stuff. "Why don't you go through my designs?" and he passed on a big catalogue full of intimidating images. Juwal was pretty confused when he leafed through, each one seemed to be better than the previous one, but with none catching his fancy totally. Fifteen minutes and two catalogues later he finally decided on the phoenix bird, much like the one on Harry Porters cover.

Now it was time to decide the rates, 300 per square inch for non-colored and 500 for colored said Vijay. We were none the wiser, so we decided to rephrase our q... how much would this one cost? pat came the reply "around Rs.8000"... If I could hear heartbeats using my ear then I would definitely have heard Juwal's miss its beat. He had that "oh my gosh!" look written all over the body language.

"If you make it a bit smaller" Vijay began gesticulating above Juwals right arm, "then we can do it for 6k". Now I am one of those guys who having taken a decision, go all the way to make it a complete success, no half-way jobs for me. So I had quit taking decisions quite a long time back. These days I see it prudent to apply my principle only on the decisions of others. In this case, the scapegoat was Juwal. "You have come here all the way from Kerala just for a tattoo. This tattoo will be there with you for the rest of your life and 2k is going to look like peanuts ten years from now, so I suggest that you do the one for 8k" was my response to Juwal's enquiring look.

The "tattooing room" was behind a curtain and Vijay was kind enough to let me watch the process. He started off by drawing the outline of the image with a pen on Juwals right arm, just below his shoulder. I got bored and decided to pass the time by taking some pictures and videos of the same. It took him close to half an hour to finish drawing the outline. Once done, he opened his desk and took out the paraphernalia used for making a tattoo, I was expecting some pin like device with which he would make the tattoo, since I had heard that you need to poke with the pin to make the design. My guess was more or less on the spot, but I had forgotten that electricity was invented quite a few centuries back. It was a pen-like electronic gadget with a detachable pin that did the job.

Now things were hotting up, Juwal started sweating seeing all the life-threatening stuff around him and I was waiting with bated breath for the first stroke. Would Juwal jump in pain or would it be ok? Thankfully, it was not so painful and Juwal claimed that it is just like multiple ants biting at the same place and the same time. Bad, but not so bad. The outline piercing took more than one hour and we talked for most of the time.

His whole arm was a mess of black ink and I couldn’t make out the outline much, but once it was finished, Vijay took some dettol, mixed it with water and wiped the whole area clean. It looked majestic, almost as if the bird had life. For quite a good part of the hour long wait, I was mulling over getting a tattoo myself, but I was just joking with myself was not even 10% serious. But once I saw how good the outline looked, temptation loomed large and dear in my heart. There was this split second when I almost decided to "ok lemme do IT!!!". But with the last vestige of my self control I desisted from the urge.

Both of us were hungry by now, so I went out and bought some veg spring rolls from Aryaas restaurant. By the time I came back Vijay had started filling the image with colors. It was a far more painful process compared to the outline. I guess Juwal was by then habituated to it, so he did not express anything. For the next three hours multiple colors were filled in, one by one. Meanwhile we went on talking about our old college days, his new firm and our old friends. I was trying to keep his mind off the pain, but nearing the end, he was really getting tired. Fortunately, Vijay kept promising "just half an hour more" so things went by.

At last by about 4 P.M, it was fully over. But I couldn’t see any of the colors of the original picture in the tattoo. In fact it all looked red to me, even after cleaning the whole part a number of times it still was red! Vijay claimed that it was ok, this is how it looks and that after a few days the colors will come out(I hope for Juwal's sake that it does). Right now it looks like he really needs a doctor. The final price was haggled to 7k and the experience pegged at "priceless".

Juwal is now the proud owner of a red blotch, which will hopefully turn out to be a beautiful phoenix bird in the coming days.