It was the month of August in 2014 when I got my first tattoo. I don’t have a vivid recollection of what led me to get the first ink on my body, but it sure changed my life. It wasn’t a great tattoo though. Cheesy text, TBH. Early adulthood BS over a broken heart. But that setting of a street shop left indelible imprints on my body and mind.
I was stoned AF when I reached the studio, when I first met my then tattoo artist, now brother, Utsav Podder. In fact, I was wearing a tee that said high five 🤪.
That evening, by getting my first tattoo, I truly fell in love with myself in some way. That dose of endorphins that only a tattoo can give you, released me within me and that brought down many walls inside. I have never gone for therapy, but getting that first tattoo was as good as any therapy can ever be. I didn’t know Utsav before that encounter, but during that session, I shared more about my life with him than I did with many close friends at that time. It was an hour where not only did I surrender to his needle, but opened up the darkest chambers of my mind to a stranger who, at that moment, felt more family than stranger.
And not just my artist, Utsav, but the shop owner, Kevin Andrade as well. To the 2014 me, these were not just the coolest peeps I had come across then, but the realest people I got to know. And that to me became like the backbone of my personal connection with tattoos. When someone asks me why I fell in love with tattoos and tattooing, I generally don’t have a concrete answer. It’s almost impossible for me to describe the realest connection of human energies I have felt, in words.
What is a tattoo shop? It’s a no BS atmosphere where you lay down bare-soul, and surrender to the trust you put on your tattooer. It’s a place where I would go hang everyday after work, make a hell lot of new friends, have real conversations outside Instagram, and get to be a part of a subculture that makes me feel at home.
When my non-tattooed friends ask me questions about tattoos and what it feels like to get inked and why do I keep getting tattoos, I say I am not in it just for the visual beauty of tattoos. I love how I can decorate myself and look the way I want to look, but that is not why I fell in love with it. I fell in love with tattoos because of what the experience of getting a tattoo is like. Some call it a rite of passage, some look at it as a tick off the bucket list, I perceive tattoos to be my literature, my poetry and cinema. It’s my story, told the way I want it to be, on my body, and only by people I truly connect with. You could be the best and the baddest tattooer on the planet, but if I don’t have a bond with you, I can never get tattooed by you. 50% of it is the artistry, but the other 50% is the damn experience you have getting a tattoo. I have had sessions which I don’t have fond memories of, but then I have had sessions where I have felt relieved, elevated and changed.
I think we should all start looking at tattoos as not just a tick off the bucket list, not just a tiny ornamental desire, not strictly symbolic and meaningful, but like the way we want our life to be. Without reasoning, just the way we want it to be.