My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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21 February 2006

"Beauty is skin deep. A tattoo goes all the way to the bone" (author unknown)

These are two pictures of my hip. Well, not just my hip, my hip with my new *ahem* tattoo. The pictures aren't fantastic, but it's an odd angle to shoot from, you have to agree, and it's really a lot more sexy in real life. I have never been so obsessed with my own skin before, every moment, I glance down to see if the dragon is still, sexily there. I've been doing Angelina Jolie poses in front of the mirror also, sticking out one hip and pouting, bee-stingily. I've also been sticking out my hip to everyone I know, yanking the band of my really old (and therefore, soft, so they don't chafe against my skin), really falling off my ass jeans and sort of waggling my pelvis, old-Hindi-movie-starlet ishtyle in their faces, so they really have no choice but to admire. And really, what's not to admire? Look at how sexy it is!

Here's a bit of Zen wisdom from me to you. The anticipation of the pain is always greater than the pain itself. I thought it was going to hurt like all fuck. I scream at needles, I avoid shots like the plague, I even flunked sewing because I was too chicken that I was going to prick myself. Okay, I made the last one up, but you get the picture. So when they put me in that huge dentist-style chair, with a lever that made you go up, up closer to the needle and the horrible gnrrrrrrrr-gnrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr noise, and they focussed the lamp on my skin, where there was a blue stencil pasted on, I freaked. Yan, the Thai-from-Chandigarh tattoo artist, approached my skin blasely, whistling along to In Da Club, in Punjabi that was playing on his laptop, Small looked amused, I closed my eyes tightly and gripped the back of the chair and... felt the needle going in piercing fourteen layers of skin and coming out and it wasn't so bad after all. He began to outline it, I opened my eyes and Small said, "Well?" and I said, amazed, "It doesn't hurt that much!"

Describe the pain, I hear you ask, O Reader Who Wants Tattoo Of Own But Is Too Scared. The pain threshold is similar to getting waxed. But in a sensitive spot, mind you, like your inner thighs or your underarms. The sensation is like, um, getting stung, by like a bee or something, but a mild sting, not terrible. Here's what it doesn't hurt as much as: a) a rabies shot and b) getting burnt by a cigarette. When Yan was done outlining, I could barely feel it, except right up top and then at the tip of the right wing, which is almost on my stomach, a spot that is so laden with nerves, that even scratching it hard can send off little alarm triggers of pain.

The outlining of a tattoo is the most painful part, filling in the colour really doesn't hurt that much, but today it feels like a nasty sunburn. I'm not going to lie to you, it stings like a bitch. And you have to keep washing it, which hurts even more. This morning in the shower, I accidently faced my body full into the blast of those water jets and I nearly passed out with the pain. But so worth it, after the shower, when I pranced around in front of my mirror.

Okay, I'll begin at the beginning. So, I've wanted a tattoo forever. Really. Only I was too scared. Then I finally got over my fear, I think last year and Dee and I decided to get tattoos together. But I still hadn't picked out what I wanted. For a while I wanted a butterfly (nah, too cliche), a pentacle (not enough resonance in my life), a monkey (no, too cutesy) and then I finally picked a dragonfly. Nice, I've always liked dragons, fire-breathing flying creatures and all, and I like to think of them as defenders of the damsels in distress, rather than devourers. Watchdogs, if you will. Creatures that kept evil at bay, were too powerful to be domesticised and who were fucking independant. No one tells a dragon what to do. A dragonfly would be the perfect insect, not as pretty-pretty as a butterfly, but still beautiful, and dude, a dragon fly? Anyhoo, so I was half-carried, half-dragged to Funky Monkey in Gurgaon by Small (coz I lost my nerve halfway through driving there) and while we waited, I flipped through their design books, but I couldn't find a single dragonfly I liked. They were all too huge, too bulky and then I saw this dragon, with wings no less (a lot of the dragons there were Chinese-style, loopy, long tailed and wingless) and I loved it and wanted it to be mine. But it was too small to go in my designated number one area, the nape of my neck. No problem I said, and chose designated area number two, on my hip, so that it just about shows above low waist jeans and can be hidden if I wear formal clothes.

So there it is, the story behind my little totem. "A girl dragon, so clearly," someone said to me today, "Too pretty to be fierce." Of course she's a girl dragon, she's on my body isn't she? And even if she's not fierce, she brings out the fierceness in me, and the fire in my soul. I think that's a pretty good deal, don't you?

EDIT & UPDATE: Since a lot of people have asked me how much it costs (can't believe I forgot to mention that in my original post!) here's some more tattoo in Delhi information:

* There are two main tattoo parlours in Delhi--Funky Monkey, where I went, is in the City Centre Mall in Gurgaon, on the top floor. The other one is run by a chap called Mike, I believe it's called Mike's only. I've compared tattoos done by both places, in fact, Small who has three tattoos has two done by Funky Monkey and one by Mike, but I find the Funky Monkey ones looked a lot better, more well-defined, a lot clearer. And I didn't much like Mike's tattoos on other people I know as well. That being said, it might be different for you, if you have a Mike tattoo and I'm no gospel or anything, this is just why I chose the Monkey people. Mike's Tattoo parlour is in CR Park, but I'm not sure where.

* Prices vary between the two parlours as well. At FM, they charge 2,000 per square inch, 2.5 if you ask for colours. Mine is two square inches, but since Small had a rapport with the owner and all, it cost me 3 k not 4. Mike's is cheaper, I think, 800 to a grand per square inch.

* Before you get a tattoo, at least, before I got mine, they made me sign an agreement, essentially promising not to sue if anything bad happened to me, like skin cancer, or like if I didn't like the design, or if I developed an allergy. I also had to promise solemnly that I was above 18, had no diseases and um, I wasn't pregnant. (I don't quite get the logic behind the last one. The trauma makes you miscarry?)

* Chamique said that her friends only put on a lot of vaseline and didn't wash it. Care for a tattoo also varies, clearly. I was told not to cover it up, to wash as often as possible without soap, pat dry with paper towels, not cloth and put vaseline on it a lot (hey, at least one things similar!) Someone else asked me why I wasn't wearing a "breathable bandage" on it, because that's what they had done. The important thing to remember is NOT to pick at the scabs, which is very hard for me, coz I'm a scab picker by nature and to keep it free of pus and/or infection, because that's not sexy.

* And not extra tattoo information but I see DesiPundit has a reference to me as soft porn. Really? My hip? Soft porn? Vulturo, whatever have you been watching? ;)


  1. heh heh
    You chose a good place for a tattoo, it doesn't hurt if it is on the fleshy part of the body... i like an idiot decided I wanted one on my rib cage. I am pretty skinny so the needle was jangling against the ribs .... and the pain my dear was excruciating :)
    Ah, what will a woman endure for a tattoo…
    your's looks awesome !

  2. this is so awesome-ly cute:-)

  3. congrats, you have no idea how much you will love it, even a year down I am still in love with mine (and mine is ugly - done by a friend, too drunk to charge).

  4. The anticipation of pain is greater than the pain itself!
    Errrr that is too profound, this early in the morning! :)
    Hurts as much as waxing? Hmmm, sounds tough to believe!
    Oh and before I forget, it looks good.

  5. alright! congratulations:)
    I felt the same way b4 getting my eyebrow pierced...but finally, it didn't hurt a BIT! (ok..a teeny-weeny bit)
    Does the she-dragon have a name?

  6. scarred for life.
    When you're an 80 year old you will have flabby skin and a fading dragon there. Haha just kidding (as in i'm not hoping it turns out bad for you)
    the pic is too closeup. design itna clear nahin hai.

  7. You have to keep washing it?
    All my tattooed friends have taken extra care not to wet their new tattoos. Layers of protective Vaseline, plastic wrap and whatnot.
    I was under the impression that the faster it dries, the faster it heals, yes?

  8. "needle going in piercing fourteen layers of skin and coming out...wasn't so bad after all"

    It sounds to me like you're officially ready for childbirth.

    I just came up from watching Miami Ink which is a reality show about a tattoo parlor. It's a fascinating case study of people who get tattoos and the artists who create them. Just don't be like Johnny Depp and have to change "Wynona Forever" into "Wyno Forever".

  9. Neat dragon. Neater pink boxers (I so hope that's not the standard Janpath skirt!)

  10. Wow!! Congratulations!! :) Way to go!

    Now I will start getting second thoughts as I go by the numerous tattoo shops in London...I have been told they are pretty expensive here.I do know that it depends on the design, colour or not etc but what is the price range in Delhi ?

  11. Nice dragon. Looks cute, but also as if it could defend a few damsels against determined Prince Charmings.

    And I want to know the price range, too. Please to tell.

  12. hey em that was cool
    more pics

  13. It IS purty. I got mine on the shoulder blade which kinda hurt... but it isn't as big as yours.
    Way to go!!

  14. I always wanted a tattoo but chicken out at the pain. Enjoy it on behalf of the tattoo-chickens

  15. ouch.
    Sounds painful even reading about your tatoo.
    Hope it was worth it. :)

  16. Interesting...I wanted a dragonfly for a couple of years but couldn't find one I liked either. Now I want a stylised black swan somewhere on my back. It's be even harder to find, but it's worth it...tattoos really should be personal. Yours is gorgeous!

  17. its a cute dragon now, but when you go on 69, and are old and wrinkly it will turn into a fiercely ugly tarantula. what then?

  18. Oh good, I dont half mind cigarette burns. Now I can get a tattoo. But first I need permission, dammit.

  19. tattos are relative desires, aren't they? i think they're trashy. women look so much classier in ethnic wear with flawless, mark-less skin showing.

    pardon me, but i've always wanted to know. do your parents read your blog?
    try taking a pic facing the mirror, then click the reflection.

  20. FINALLY, she shows some skin..and its hawt...

    nice hip

  21. That was er... hip! So, it's a cliuched pun. So what?

    PS: Would like to check the place meself. Do they have, um, tigers?

  22. First time I have come across something like this on a hip. Well, at least you differentiated yourself. What next I wonder.

  23. Dammit, I want more too... looks good ;-)

  24. intriguing tattoo..more intruiging pink boxers....
    both look nice..have fun..

  25. I have 4 tattoos though only 1 can be considered big. Watch out for they are addicting!

    And I 2nd (or 3rd) the washing part. I had to keep mine wet because once the skin gets dry, you can feel the irritation that much more. It's that whole healing skin thing. I did have to wash it in order to keep it sanitized, but they told me to A&D ointment on it forever and ever.

  26. um... the pics probably don't do justice to the actual tattoo. get someone to click pic for you no... who knows, 'this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship'.

  27. I am the Reader Who Wants Own Tattoo But Is Too Scared.

    Thanks for all the dope ... I feel brave enough and inspired enough by your gorgeous dragon to go get one now. Will have to wait for my next trip to Delhi though ...

  28. Kool.. i'm gonna get one whenever i visit goa next time.

  29. You've managed to convice me to get one now!!! :)

  30. does it, and should it, matter what others say about you :)

  31. congrats! welcome to the world of body-art!

  32. One thing that can certainly be said.. this blog aint square..:-)).
    All our desires and their endless chaos
    The pain of it all is the ultimate pleasure.

    Peace Out,
    The Beatnik Baba

  33. Phew!! Finally I found what I was looking for!! Info on Tattoo.. I am desperate to have one on my left breast.. a butterfly.. But wonder if that is a safe place to have a tattoo done...

    Anywayz thanks for the info and thanks to VN for letting me know about your blog...


  34. Hi,

    This is Vikas, behind the tattooblog, based in Delhi and a part of the Instablogs Network. I just read your post on the tattoo you're sporting on your hip. The dragonfly looks great, but as the picture is not clear I'd like you to post me a few details of your tattoo, like from where you got it and why, the artist, how do you feel after it being on your skin for such a long time now and also few clear pictures of the dragonfly.

    I'd love to cover you in my blog, if you don't mind. It'll be a great insight as far as the art of tattooing goes in India.

    Waiting for your reply.

    Vikas Shekhawat

  35. The thing with tatt's is that once you've got one - you always ALWAYS want to get another. I've got 2 - and 1 of a dragon is on my lower back as well! I might regret getting it at some point, but at the mo (or for the past 7 yrs since I last got em) -- its all good. My next q will be - when are you going for the next one?

  36. Hey,
    I'm a photographer with the Associated Press, which is an international news agency. was looking for sum info on tattoos, ur blog really helped... but i'm looking at sum other queries on tattooing in delhi.
    Would be grateful if i could sumhow get in touch with you..
    Mustafa Quraishi

  37. ..... I can imagine the quality of a tattoo by an artist with a name like funky monkey. Must really be monkeying around with his tattoos. Can visualise the bad job done (dragon)......

  38. hey, thanx to the info u put up of both the 'known' tattoo parlours in delhi, i checked em both out and got mine done from mike's this evening (thanx binish). actually am new in delhi n when i searched google, it threw up ur blog. wasn't too impressed with funkey monkey simply because it's too clinical. the guy at the front desk hasn't much clue wat he's talking about, and the artist didnt really rock my world :). so anyway, mike suggested a nice perspective to my design and it's turned out really well. thanx...

  39. yah, funny, my storry's the same. nesw in delhi, lookin up parlors, googled it and found ur site, thanx for the info, imma check 'em both out and see! thanx!!

  40. I've just got a tattoo on my hip lyk 2 days ago. I wasnt as scared going coz Iv already got one on my back and it didnt hurt at all, during or after. But my hip is burning now!!! Your right, its the outlining that hurts the most, but even that isnt that bad till it hits bone!! I got a rose and a butterfly on my hip and its wicked! It was deffo worth akk this oain! beautiful! xxx

  41. ohey same here, i am visiting delhi and wanted to get a tattoo done, any contact number, directiosn to mike's place? by the way the tattoo looks good, though you cud have taken a better pic for the world to drool over !


  43. funky monkey is the only place to go for a tattoo ,they might be a little expensive but my friends scorpion looks like a lobster thanx to mike. he should be beaten up for fucking peoples skin for life. CHOOSE YOUR TATTOO ARTIST CAREFULLY ITS FOR LIFE

  44. ok i have been a fan of u since last 4-5 days.. doing extensive research fr tattoo;s though i zero'd on funky monky months back but still i wanted to be a bit more sure.. so was lukin on web and here i was.. last 2 days i have been comin ever hour just to manke sure the design was good the finishing was good.. and then finally yesterday i got it done on my neck.. not the best of the part u c and unluckiy one of the most painfull place.. and yaa i actully pain like fukin hell and afet 12 hours it still does but not that bad..

    thanks for being my mentor.. ;) will surly post the pics soon .. n let you knw :)


  45. here you go... as i promised here;s the pic of my tattoo :D


  46. How long back did u get this?
    I used to work at the Monkey many a year ago, when they first opened..

    welcome to the community of the inked..

    I like ur writing.. very 'alive', for lack of a better word, but then again, I'm no writer! :-)


  47. This is so cool. I am such a huge fan of their work. I really am impressed with how much you have worked to make this website so enjoyable.


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