Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Ruminations of a Retired Mind

Getting permanently “inked” seems to be getting increasingly popular day by day.

Some have visible tattoos on their bodies, while some have tattoos in private places of their bodies.

Some get names of their lovers inked on their bodies, maybe as a Public Display of Affection (PDA).

Some like people who have a tattoo, some are indifferent and some disapprove.

There are organisations that do not approve of tattoos.

A young man told me that he wanted to join the Army but could not do so since he had a Tattoo.

I was surprised.

I did not know that the Army does not allow individuals with Tattoos to join up.

Traditionally, Tattoos were associated with Navy Sailors.

Merchant Seamen and Naval Sailors, who sailed across the high seas to distant lands, came back with exotic tattoos inked on their bodies as a testimony to their travels and as a permanent memory of the ports they had visited.

So, the tradition of tattooing, or permanently inking your body, soon became associated with sailors  men who sailed the high seas to exotic destinations.

I do not know whether the Indian Navy allows tattoos.

I do not have a tattoo nor did I see any of my shipmates get themselves inked with tattoos on their bodies, but I have seen a few merchant navy sailors with tattoos.

Do the Indian Army and Air Force allow tattoos?

I do not know.

But I once saw an Army wife with a beautiful tattoo inked on her body at a most curious place.

I once read a story about a lovey-dovey celebrity couple who got each other’s names tattooed, permanently inked, on their bodies as an expression of mutual love.

A few years later, the lovers had a break up and separated.

Now, after the break up, the tattoo of love became a symbol of hate, and they wanted to get their tattoos removed, and in the laborious process they ended up damaging their skin.

Tattoos are painful to get inked – so I really wonder why people are willing to undergo pain just to ink their skin.

I never felt the need to get a tattoo.

I have always wondered why so many people, especially celebrities, like to ink their bodies permanently with tattoos.

Let us try to answer the moot question, try to fathom the mysterious question:

Why Do People Have Tattoos ?


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?

What are the “needs” that motivated you to get a tattoo, if you already have a tattoo?

Or, if you intend to get a tattoo, what is motivating you get your body inked?


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?

Is your tattoo a Public Display of Affection (PDA) ?

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 have a 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.

I do not know whether it is true, but someone told me 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 want to have a tattoo?”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. These are my personal views. Whether to tattoo or not to have a tattoo is your prerogative, but do so with due diligence.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. All examples and tips are illustrative in nature. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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