Monday, August 26, 2013



Whenever I see a person with a tattoo, I get intrigued.

Why do people have tattoos made on their body?

Why do some beautiful persons stain and blemish their soft flawless skin?

Why do they go through the expensive and painful process of inking?

What is the reason people want to have a tattoo? 

In order to understand this mystery I decided to go into the basics of human behavior.

Tell me: “Why do you behave in the way you do?”

You behave in a certain way to satisfy your needs at that point of time.

In fact, all your behaviour is governed by your intrinsic motivation to satisfy your needs.

Yes, your needs influence your behaviour

The process of human behavior can be summarized in four steps:

1. A need is aroused within you

2. You behave in a way to satisfy the need

3. The need is satisfied

4. You relax

So, what do you think are the “needs” that motivate a person to have a tattoo?

Do you have a tattoo?


Do tell us: What was the “need” you wanted to satisfy by having a tattoo?

Was it the need for thrill and adventure?

Did you have a tattoo to satisfy your need to seek attention?

Or is your tattoo your way of expressing your sense of rebellion in order to satisfy your needs for freedom or self-expression?

Did you have a tattoo due to peer pressure to satisfy your need to belong or conformance or identification with a group?

Historically, tattoos were used to brand slaves – so maybe you wanted to be “branded” as someone’s “slave” so you got that person’s name tattooed on your body.

Is that the reason you got your lover’s name tattooed on your body – to fulfill your need to show off your love or your need to be dominated.

Did you want to display to the world that you “belong” to your lover and you are his “slave” and vice versa?

What will happen if you break up with your lover whose name is tattooed on your body?

Someone once told me that people have secret tattoos in hidden places on the body which no one can see – like at the base of the spine on the lower back just above the derriere.

It is a mystery as to why people have such tattoos, but obviously they are satisfying some need – maybe some need for secrecy or sensuality or exclusivity.

They say that tattoos are expensive, painful and permanent.

I also heard that tattoo removal is even more expensive and painful.

I read an article once that in many cases tattoo removal may be ineffective.

They say that it is impossible to actually remove a tattoo – you can lighten it, nothing more.

And you may never get back the flawless skin that you had before you got the tattoo done. If your skin is sensitive, it may get damaged or discoloured forever.

I am sure that before a person decides to have a tattoo done on their body, they know all these implications.

But their “need” is so strong and overpowering that it motivates them to go ahead and satisfy their need by getting a tattoo.

Like I said earlier, historically, tattoos were used to brand slaves

In ancient times, tattoos were used as a mode of communication between spies.

Once upon a time, members of some mafia used to wear symbolic tattoos to identify as members of a certain crime syndicate.

Seamen and sailors came back with tattoos, a tradition that would soon become associated with men of the sea.

But all this happened in ancient times.

I wonder why so many people have tattoos in this modern age.

If you have a tattoo, or intend getting a tattoo, maybe you can answer this question and tell us:

Why do you have a tattoo?”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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I intend to have a tattoo because I think it is a medium of self-expression. As I am a tight-lipped person, the things which I can't express through words, I want to express it through tattoo.

Rajani Arya said...

I always wished to have tattoo but don't have any till the date because there were many negative points. So that's not the point, point is why someone wants to have a tattoo - I am not sure about others but for me this comes in the same category in which we get our Ear and Nose pierced and wear different, heavy ornaments. Those are too painful process but we do because we love to.(Admit for some, piercing can be a social mandatory thing but it was not for me, still i got my ears pierced.)I don't thing people do it to prove something, it's just a human feeling to decorate your body with different things.


I intend to have a tattoo because I think it is a medium of self-expression. As I am a tight-lipped person, the things which I can't express through words can be expressed through tattoos.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Rajani
Thank you for your comment.
So, it looks like you want to have a tattoo to satisfy your "aesthetic" need for "decorate" your body.
But tell me, do you want this "decoration" to be permanent?
And do tell us about the beautiful design you choose when you finally decide to have that tattoo.
I agree about your views that piercing may be socially mandatory in case of nose and ears, but nowadays fashionable persons get various parts of their bodies pierced.
By the way, you mentioned that there are some negative points due to which you did not get a tattoo as yet - do tell us what are these negative points of tattooing, in your opinion.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Pratik
So you want to have a tattoo to satisfy your need for "self expression"
Do tell us on which part of your body you want to get that tattoo to "self-express" yourself, and what type of tattoo you intend getting.


I intend to have tattoo on my right hand from shoulder to elbow. This will indicate how I feel about my family members & the things which I can't express about their nature. I'll include 4 designs. First of Dragon, for my father who is dominating, always telling me to do things in his way like fire coming out of dragon's mouth. Second of deer, for my mother who is kind, cool minded. Third of scorpio, for my brother who minds his own business,but if we try to tease or provoke him, he doesn't care about anything. Last, sign of peace, for me as I'm a diplomat, try to avoid conflicts. This tattoo can be called as 'whakapapa' as per Māori culture.

Unknown said...

i would like to read an article on Tattoos and why people adorn them, this was well written but more of a questionnaire, i understand you meant to get views from readers. still, expecting a detailed article on Tattoos and even symbology if you can.
Great Blog :D

Unknown said...

I have a Tattoo, an Om on my right hand, I got it when I was thirteen and had visited a beach named Om beach in Gokarna (Karnataka), My name is Omesh and being at the beautiful beach I felt getting the first letters of my name on my right hand a little auspicious as the word Om had a connection with my name, the beach and the temple at Gokarna, Hence I got this tattoo to symoblize the event of my life.

Mahesh said...

A church has stained glass windows. It filters light and creates a certain atmosphere inside the church. It transports those who enter the church away from the normal daylight world and into another plane, call it unconscious or dream state, even in daylight. Tattoos serve the same function. Your body is enveloped in the colored light of another world. Going under water and emerging is also a similar symbol - that of transformation. A person with tattoos is in a constant meditation, or at least that is the attempt. This is Joseph Campbell's explanation. Of course there are others.

Ritesh Agarwal said...

Its a mental thing, a subtle way to stay under the spotlight

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Interesting reasons why so many people want to have permanent tattoos.
Some want to be in the spotlight, some have a tattoo as a means of self expression and some want to know about the symbology. Well, I'll try and write something on this.
Meanwhile, before you have a tattoo remember that it is a permanent things - so don't do something impulsive that you will regret later - take a considered decision before you tattoo your body. (Remember the movie "The Hangover" where a guy gets a tattoo in a drunken state which he regrets later - Moral of the Story - Never Drink and Tattoo !!! LOL