You think it, I Ink it!

I have always loved storytelling, be it through movement, music, lyrics or words. I have always loved finding new ways of telling stories. I go through phases in my life, and each of those phases gets translated into some kind of a mini anthology: a playlist gets made of the music that relates, a few poems come into existence, and… a new tattoo takes form on my body. Some may think it’s very strange, but as I look back at each of these compilations of my life, I can instantly remember the moments, the people and the memories that went behind creating them.


And my tattoos speak the most. My tattoos are souvenir’s of my past. They are scars of memories. My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story. I thought it will be interesting to take a trip down memory lane and share with you, a few chapters of my life, through my ink. And hey, for those who are going to ask ‘doesnt it hurt?’ - this question does not apply for someone who has to take about 8 injections a day! Perks of having T1D (super pain threshold) ;)

1) In my best dress, Fearless

This was the first tattoo I ever got, when I was 16. For me, being fearless does not mean having no fear - it means having the courage to go ahead, despite the fear - and getting a tattoo was the embodiment of that feeling. I remember, my mother helped me design this, and we went together to the Tattoo studio to get it. I did get my doctor’s permission too - such a good girl back then ;)


2) I CAN

This tattoo is an ode to my mother. The movement she created (Design For Change) spirals around 2 words that are the greatest agents of change - I CAN. The sunshine around it is the ‘kiran’ of my life. This ink is a nudge to always believe in myself and its a silent reminder that my mother is always around..



3) Anchor yourself to something special

My anchor tattoo holds me to my purpose. Whenever it feels like I’m swaying, or losing direction, it guides me back to what holds me down. It is also a reminder to always stay grounded, always stay strong, and always stay humble.



4) We all are winging it, thats what angels do!

I have a slight obsessions with ‘flight’. It poses a conflict to my previous tattoo, but I have come to the simple understanding that life is a paradox. My angel wings represent the juxtapositions of life (whats that quote - the devil was once an angel too)



5) This is a State of Grace, This is the Worthwhile fight

One of my favourite quotes about the performance work I do is: “Art is the contemplation of the world in a state of grace”. Great art should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable. Art should make you think, should make you question, should make you realise and should make you resist. This often makes me constantly question my performance and guides me to create performance that questions the audience.




6) O Masakali

Masakali loosely translates to ‘the aspiration to fly higher with peace and liberation’. I got this ink when I was in New York, studying at the Broadway Dance Center. I was in a vibe of creative energy, sparkling lights and endless inspiration. It made me feel endless. Theres a beautiful Hindi poem which encapsulates that feeling: “O Masakali, Raatein teri, Din bhi tera, Tu bas mauj mein udti jaa” (the nights are yours, the days too, just keep flying)



7) Love is enough

In the world of tangibles we live in, only an intangible can be enough. The inspiration behind this tattoo was a simple question - If love is not enough, then whats enough? Enough said.



8) Music is life, thats why our hearts have beats.

My treble clef tattoo is a mix of a lot. Music was a huge part of growing up. I began playing the piano when I was about eight. It’s shaped the way I think, the way I move and the way I grow. However, this tattoo is more for my father and brother. Both their names mean music. Geet (is Hindi for song) and Raag (is a melodic framework for hindustani classical music). My brother, also has a ‘jazz band’. It all just ties in so beautiful with this little symbol which encapsulates my love for music and my love for family.



9) Be Present. Be Patient. Be the Light

Shall I say more? Special tattoo from a special trip to Istanbul.



10) Rab Raakha

In punjabi, it means ‘may god always look over you’. I got this tattooed very close to the spot where I have had multiple IV drip lines. It also has a little sunrise dedicated to my grandmother USHA and a little unalome at the end dedicated to my other grandmother ASHA. Both my grandmothers have spoken to me in Punjabi while I was growing up, and they both have constantly told me i'm ‘gods chosen one’ after my diagnosis, so getting it inked in gurmukhi felt right.



11) May your dreams defy the laws of gravity

This next tattoo was the one I got most impulsively. I was listening to John Mayer’s ‘Gravity’ and this lyric just sent a shiver down my spine. It was like the lyric was talking to me and I just knew I had to get it! I drove to the studio, the design was in my mind, and I got it tattooed. The four birds in flight, resonate with the feeling I had when I listened to the song.



12) The darkest nights, produce the brightest stars

A reminder to know its okay to have highs and lows. After all the darker edges make the lighter shades look better :)



13) The Blue Circle

My diabetes tattoo. A constant reminder to be grateful for what I have, but also to keep me going for all there is yet to do.



14) Everything happens for a reason

This is something I have always believed in. You meet people for a reason, you go through experiences for a reason, you get diabetes for a reason ;) this form is a Tibetan scripture and its effortlessness and beauty was all the more reason to get it.



15) 3’s company..

The heart has a figure 3 in in, and I got it with three of my closest friends in the whole world. We were contemplating between getting a triangle or the heart. So we decided to make chits and chose. I was incharge of making the chits - and I put the heart in both. Sorry Nancy and Alistair, but you know I love you!



16) The Lion and the Butterfly

Strength to me is defined by multiple things.. The ferocity of a lion as well as the metamorphosis of a butterfly.. Grace is the slow crawl of a silent lion ready to attack, or the fluttering of a butterfly in the sun. I identify with extremes and in all the understanding always remains, that no one is black and white, but rather all shades of grey.


17) Va, Vede e Ama

Inspired by the famous Latin quote and modified after my stay in Florence - Go, See and Love. Florence taught me so much about love, life and adventure and this was my little souvenir of my journey done by a beautiful tattoo artist in Italy.



18) And my biggest piece for last

There is genuinely no story behind this - I just loved the patter and the intricacy, done by one of my favourite tattoo artists in Pune. Fun story - he did this masterpiece in exactly 40 minutes!



So those are the stories behind my art. I’m not afraid of permanence. Do I regret any - not one bit. They have grown with me, they have inspired me and they will continue to always be with me. Some people like collecting postcards, some magnets, I prefer Tattoos.


A great man once said, “Show me a woman with tattoos, and ill show you a woman with a interesting past”


x

J.S

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