Getting my first Ink

It has been a long-pending dream of mine to get a tattoo. I don’t know what came over me, but I made a decision to ‘gift’ myself a tattoo for my 25th! Something that I never thought I’d do, so….impromptu. In fact, I still check my wrist every few minutes to check if I’ve really done it.

Getting my first ink was such a great experience. It took months of planning but the actual process got over in a flash. That left me with so much disbelief, yet a sense of accomplishment.

I got mine at this cute little parlor, Dragon Eye Tattoo at Saibaba Colony, Coimbatore. Why I refer to a tattoo parlor called ‘Dragon Eye’ cute, is a story for another day. But it’s got something to do with the tattoo lady there (who goes by the name of Shree) and her most affable and humorous nature. The lack of substance abuse and burly dudes at the place, contributed a little too.

These are the highlights of the whole experience. There are some tips for those of you who are looking to get your first (or whatever number-ed) tattoo.

Getting ready.

Before settling for one design, I crossed out soooo many options. I took nearly 3 months deciding back and forth on what I wanted. Finally, I fixed my design a mere two days before the D-day! I like to wing it that way. Otherwise, I’d forever be ‘deciding’. I’d never come to a conclusion.

My number one advice is to take time to think of your design carefully. But when you’re close to the tattoo day, just go with your instinct. 

It is not easy coming up with a tattoo design, I tell you. Imagine if we were given the choice to decide what shape of eyes, nose and hair-type we want to live with the rest of our lives. (I can hear some of you go, “I know exactly what I want.” Trust me, you don’t. Us humans, we function on envy. We ride our whole lives on a jealous-scale. We don’t ‘know’ what we want. We get something, then make comparisons with others’ somethings and complain about ours.)

Choosing an ink-pattern was just as difficult as choosing a permanent facial feature. I stumbled upon crown tattoos while stalking Pinterest profiles.”Shravs”, I said to myself, “Don’t you like the idea of a crown to remind you of grace, pride, patience and character?” And the idea stuck.

I considered this Celtic crown design. Briefly. I really liked the details, the curves and the Celtic knots. It had a touch of royalty and raw tribalness. As you can see, my brilliant artistic skills helped me decide the placement.

 

At the last minute, I threw out the idea because of its complexity and settled on this British crown instead.

And after many, many scribbles and trials…

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I was finally able to pick one that I liked.

Tattooing.

The excruciating part was over. Yep, the choosing part was the most difficult. The actual act of having a needle dig into your skin, was surprisingly, not painful at all.

Pain level (for girls): Greater than waxing but lesser than upper lip hair removal.
Pain level (for guys): More painful than holding in a fart, less painful than a wedgie (hopefully)

Shree was super cool and super calm about the whole thing. She looked at my design, made some tiny changes and got the stencil ready. Once she got to work, time flew. Hardly 15 minutes in, and she was adding the final touches.

There we are showing off. Not the double chins, the tattoo.

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After-tattoo care.

Day 1

Immediately after tattooing, your skin is going to be raw. The first 24 hours are most crucial. When the tattoo artist says, “No water, no touching and no soap”, it strictly means no to all three. The first few hours of care will grandly decide how your tattoo will turn out and it’s life.

Mine was reddish around the whole area. I used up nearly half of the ointment within the first few hours.

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In a couple of hours and dozens of ointment applications later, the swelling and redness reduced. The skin was still rough. Touching or scratching with nails was still a No-No.

The skin around the ink looked like a welt. This lasted nearly 4 hours.

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Day 2

I was told there would be itching and skin peeling. It was the morning after and there were still no signs of any skin flaking. But there was a tiny bit of itching. Every time I had the inclination to scratch, I had to distract myself, preferably with a Jon Snow poster, long enough for that urge to die down.

I’m not going to lie to you. Sleeping and showering were a pain. This was the day I found out that my left hand alone could bend in 46 different orientations while I slept and that placing the hot shower tap on the right side is  HUGE mistake.

Anyway, by day 2 with my incredible nurturing and loving affection, the tattoo’s blush had gone down so much. I gave it slight touch-ups every two hours. Sometimes the excess ink would come off, sometimes there was nothing. My only aim was to keep it well-oiled for the next 48 hours.

Here’s how it looked by the end of day 2.

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Day 3 and counting

I’m just one sleepless night short of giving my tattoo a nickname (how does Princess Blush’ sound?) It’s been a couple of days now and the ointment is over. My redness and swelling have all gone down. It itches occasionally. I’m able to touch the area without experiencing any harshness. The inked area still feels rough, as if it were sandpaper. Hopefully all this coconut oil should help smooth it and replenish my skin.

Oh, and yeah, this tattoo came at 1500 (plus taxes) bucks for 2 square inches. Pretty economical, I’d say. Job well done.

This has been the easiest item off my bucket list ever!

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6 ways you can make Reading more fun

Q: Do you like reading?

If you answered, “Hmm…not my cup of tea”, then this post is for you.

A lot of my friends come up to me and say “Shravs, how do you read all those big books? I fall asleep as soon as I open them  But, I want to read like you, tell me na?”

This post is in response to those dear friends of mine, who have a reader inside them. But unfortunately, that ‘reader’ is unable to fight the battle of drowsiness against the mighty ‘sleeper’. This post is for both novice readers and wanna-be readers and will give you some ideas on how to make reading more fun.

Right. So, how can we make this reading-thing more enjoyable so that you can actively start reading?

Since we internet-folks are raving about listicles, here is my own listicle on this topic.

1) Find a buddy

Umm… you thought reading was a solitary-confinement punishment?  Time to rethink.

Reading can be as vibrant and bubbly as any other hangout. You go to the movies with your friends. You go to restaurants with them. You travel with your gang. You bring your posse everywhere. Why not read with your friends?

I’ll give you an instance: when my friend and I were reading the Chronicles of Narnia, we had crushes 😉  on different characters. She liked Peter and I thought Prince Caspian was way hotter. So, we would spend a lot of time discussing them, debating over how one was braver than the other, who was more likely to be King, who fights better, etc.

Reading about heroes suddenly became a lot more interesting for us. So find a buddy, who will read with you. It’s fun, I promise.

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2) Read a series

Always find a good series that can keep you hooked on till the end.

The thing with series is that, you just cannot.stop.with.one.book. Anybody who wants to find out the climax has to read through all the books and attain it.

And it’s worth it too.

Reading a series is like running a marathon. When you finish both, you have a sense of fulfillment that compares with nothing else.

Authors like Rick Riordan, Philip Pullman and J.K.Rowling, have a knack of placing a cliffhanger in the very last paragraph. A few well-crafted lines will convert even a ‘casual reader’ into  ‘avid fan’.

Although, I must warn you that if you start an unfinished series, you are in for some loooong waits. I’m warning you.

3) Read a well-designed/ illustrated book

Because, if you are not reading a well-designed book, you are making the worst of the rookie mistakes of them all.

As far as I know, the main reason many of us refuse to touch huge books is that we are not comfortable with the endless masses of paragraphs. It’s intimidating, I know. The tiny font, the tight binding and poor paper quality are all factors in a Bibliophobia.

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I admit it. Books that were printed in the early 90’s (the golden age for us strange and weird creatures who are at the intersection of millennials and bookworms) weren’t that pleasant to our eyes. I remember straining to read difficult font. I’d even have to bend the book backwards (gasp!) to read the tricky paragraph edges.

But, times have changed. Publishers are moving towards a better design approach. Everything including the font, height of the page, margins of the text, binding and spine, and paper quality have changed.

Throw in illustrations and BHAM! A completely new look-and-feel to your novel. Find them and make them yours. With all these operational difficulties stripped away, your job is made simpler and instantly entertaining.

Roald Dahl’s and Enid Blyton’s books are an excellent place to start.

P.S. If you think these books are for children, then I really pity you.

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When you find beautiful illustrations you be like

4) Listen, don’t read

No, Listen. Read. But, don’t read, just listen.

Let’s try that again. Listen to audiobooks. Clear?

Audiobooks are an excellent way to begin your reading journey. We’ve been tuned since childhood to listen intently. Keen listening has helped us identify our mom’s footsteps up the stairs, or an approaching teacher. An ability that we have sharpened over the years. We can put that to use.

Also, unlike our eyes, our ears never get tired.

With audiobooks we get a dramatised version of the book. Most voice over artists try to bring in variance in the modulation and intonation of different characters. It makes for very interesting ‘reading’. Audiobooks remove the logistical complications of the real thing – you can listen to them on your commute, just before dozing off, while on the phone pretending to listen to your bae – just shooting ideas here.

Plus, audiobooks are hands-free and discrete. Say, you want to read your favourite erotica. But you can’t read it in public spaces, obviously. Now, you can just plug in and listen to the rousing dialogues. Cashhhhual.

Check out

Tina Fey’s Bossypants
Amy Poehler’s Yes Please
and P.G.Wodehouse’s Right Ho, Jeeves

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5) Do what you love

If you are an artist, you can always incorporate that into your reading ritual. Draw or sing or dance a scene from the book. Make it interactive. It doesn’t always have to be the book speaking to you. You could predict the scenes, develop a sub-plot, add a dance routine to the main character’s daily grind – anything goes. Make it interactive.

It doesn’t always have to be the book speaking to you. See what you can give back to the book. 

Innumerable fan arts, fan fictions and cosplays exist. They bring fans closer. People are interpreting stories in their own way and are giving back to the (fictional) universe. Basically,  yeah, I’m asking you to geek out 😛 If you want to read, be prepared to become a geek.

6) Try an ebook

I could be the only bookworm on the internet who spreads the ebook propaganda. This is really a last ditch attempt to trick your brain into thinking you’re consuming media, a form of entertainment that you are used to. The act of reading ebooks secretes dopamine, serotonins and bullshits in your brain. (Seriously, I despise ebooks)

But, I wouldn’t discount them. If they can get your juices flowing, then hey, good for you.

Ebooks have some very real advantages. Reading difficult words isn’t cumbersome. You don’t have to stop reading to pick up a dictionary. Bye, bye bulky dictionaries. Hello, sexy technology. You can even share your favourite lines instantly on social media, tricking your friends into thinking you’re an intellectual.

Facebook got us clicking our selfies by re-introducing the simple thumbs-up. I wonder if sharing book quotes on twitter can get you the same self-love and prompt you into reading?

Those are all my tips to make reading more fun. Okay, maybe the last one was a little too much. Sorry about that.

I hope that all nascent readers out there get back into full-fledged reading soon. I know most of these apply to fiction. It’s what I like. Let me know if you guys have any way of making non-ficti-yaaawn more interesting.

Best wishes

Shravs.

Images courtesy: Uncle Google