Friday, August 7, 2009

Tattoo Art

Steve, one of the main characters in my book sports a tattoo ( p.10).

The Tattoo as a form of body decoration has been around for centuries now and especially in rural India you can still come across women have squiggly blue tattoos of their names inked in unlearned letters or religious symbols like snakes, swastikas, dots, lotuses or crosses to keep away the evil eye drawn out on their forearms or feet. So I find it amusing that this art form once considered primitive and tribal is accepted as "uber" cool by modern day celebrities!

And going by the artists and their designs featured on Nat Geo, it does seem to be a fascinating art form. Be that as it may, I still can't understand why anyone would want to subject oneself to the torture of getting one's body prodded and poked!

Probably this queasiness is due to the wizened old slave, woman I saw during a visit to my mother's friend in Hyderabad when I was just a little girl. Even now I can never forget the liveried chauffeur who jumped to open the door of the car sent to pick us up from the hotel we were staying in. My eyes became bigger and bigger as I saw the huge rambling palace, the immaculately kept gardens, the well appointed rooms with their carpets, paintings and fascinating bric a brac. Marium was the consummate story teller and I was enthralled by her tales of her family's opulence and grandeur. What finally made my jaw drop was the story of the twenty palace maids that came as part of her grandmother's dowry.

When my mother protested that this couldn't be true Marium clapped her hands and out stepped an old lady who came forward doing the traditional salute. When Marium asked her to lift up her her sleeve, I saw on her forearm, her name and the same palace insignia that was inscribed on the tea set!

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