That Time I Got A Tattoo In India…


You’re in your mid-late twenties and you’re life has been turned upside down. It’s time to let your hair down and do something you’ve never done before – travel.
And I mean REALLY travel.

It’s September 2012 and you’re with your best friend, Misty, in India. A couple of Misty’s friends have met up with you and you’re enjoying the sights of  McLeod Ganj, the most beautiful little village in Himachal Pradesh, on the southern outer of the Himalayas.

You’ve been away from home for a few months now and civilization is a few hundred-thousand miles away. The days where you work in a corporate office, surrounded by cars, traffic, and businesses, feel long gone. Instead, your days are filled with masala tea, writing, books, and music.

You’ve never felt so at peace. You love it here.



One of your “clan” decides to go and get a tattoo on his leg. It’s a tiger and it looks amazing. You feel inspired and decide it’s time for a YOLO moment. When in Rome right? You’re in mother-effing India, the coolest place in the world. You’ve never loved anywhere as much as you love this place right now, so why not make it a permanent memory?

You discuss this outrageous plan with Misty and you can see she’s a tad dubious – this is completely out of the ordinary for you. In fact, I’d go as far as to say, you’re acting pretty crazy right now.

You’ve made up your mind. You’re going to do this!

Now you just have to decide what to get, and where.

You’re excited and nervous at the same time. You already have a tattoo but it’s on your hip and is hidden for most of the year, so you decide you want this one to be visible. It needs to have some form of meaning, to signify change, and getting past your fears.

It’s time to look at your fashion idol, Juliett Kuczynska (aka Madame Julietta). She has a ton of stylish tattoos that suit with her grungy badass looks, yet they also work when she transforms herself into a classy goddess. She has a teeny tiny flock of swallows just down from her collarbone and you know that’s what you want.

You’re already petrified of birds so you figure that ties into the whole ‘overcoming your fears’ mantra you’ve got going on. Swallows also represent freedom and love, and you decide you’ll get a bunch of them to signify the most important people in your life.

Now it’s your moment – the time to get the tattoo has arrived. You’re extremely nervous, but you know you want to do this. You’ve never made such a quick decision on something this big. I mean, it’s a huuuuggggeeee decision… it’s permanent and well, not everyone is going to agree with what you’re about to do.


You walk with Misty through the rubble and back streets of McLeod Ganj, until you arrive at Tamding Tattoo Studio. Okay, it’s certainly not a studio, it’s just a bedroom – if that.

The Tibetan tattooist is lovely, and he chats away to you while you explain your tattoo. You talk to him about the birds and explain how many you’d like and that you want them tattooed on the inside of your left wrist.

Tamding starts drawing the tattoo and makes sure you’re happy with it.

You feel exhilarated and determined.

You ask Misty for her opinion and she says it looks great. You think it looks awesome, but then, in all honesty, he could probably be tattooing a demon and you’d still go through with it.




Tamding asks you to lie down on the bed and instructs that he’s going to start the tattoo. You nervously look at Misty and she gives you a reassuring smile. You’re fine, you want this.

It is painful, and it feels as though someone is taking a razorblade through your skin (especially where the tattoo crosses your veins), but you play tough. And within half an hour, it’s all done. Tamding wraps some glad-wrap over the tattoo and instructs you on the healing process and how to care for your new tattoo.

You can’t believe it, you’ve done it – you really have a tattoo and a visible one at that!





On your way back to your room, Misty stops at a small market stall with beautiful photographs. The shop owner is helping a customer so you both take a seat.

You look down at your wrist and the realisation of everything sinks in.

You just got a tattoo in India!

What if the place wasn’t sterile?
What if it gets infected?
Was he really a great tattooist?

Right at that moment Misty looks and you and asks if you’re okay. That’s when you reply with…

“What the fuck have I done?!”

You start having a mini panic attack. Misty tries to reassure you that it’s awesome but she’s secretly freaking out, and doesn’t want you to notice her concern. You keep looking at the tattoo and thinking what this means.

I love it, don’t I? It has meaning, it’s funky… but what if it dates?
What if I hate it in a years time?
What if I go back to a sales role and people won’t employ me because I have a tattoo?

An hour passes and you calm the hell down. You realise there really is eff all you can do about it now – you’re stuck with the damn thing, so you might as well get used to it.



Yep, it’s still there.

Do I regret it? Funnily enough, after all these years, I don’t.

The only part I dislike is the fact that so many girls have a similar tattoo. I’m not one to follow trends and that makes me feel like a bit of an arse.

Aside from that, I love what it represents for me… a moment where I did something completely out of my comfort zone, something so ‘un-Kylie like’ that it still surprises me to this day.

But mainly, it’s a permanent reminder of when I had the time of my life with my best friend.

Where we traveled the world, met some amazing people, and saw the most beautiful countries, like India.

McLeod Ganj will always have a special place in my heart, and I hope that one day I get to visit again.




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