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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Becky the Tattooed Lady

For as long as I can remember I have wanted a tattoo. I really thought Senior High School Spring Break 1991 would have been the time, however I was sick with pneumonia and could not go on the trip. Many of my "girls" came back from Cancun with a tattoo, someplace their parents could not see because as Catholic School Girls - this was something they didn't do. Next I thought, going to college, I would get one. Would it be my Greek Sorority letters on my ankle, a "tramp stamp," or again something small nobody else would see. Meeting Doug (my spouse) at 18 distracted me from that because he is not a fan of defacing yourself (including ear piercing, I know, WEIRD). So I passed...then I had William, our son, at age 22 and really who has the time, money or desire for more pain to get a tattoo. Over the years, I have indulged in temporary tattoos, I have to say they are fun...Even Chanel has temporary tattoos you can buy at their boutiques or other luxury stores. I may have to get those at duty free Chanel in Paris. India has provided a solution for me and I am thrilled to share it with you- MEHENDI!!!!

So Mehendi is the application of temporary tattoo which is a favorite among Indian women. Mehendi is a type of leaf ground into a paste and then applied to patterns on the palm or bottoms of the feet. It is typically applied during special occassions like weddings and Indian festivals (or if you at the mall, you can get a good one for Rs 200 ($5USD). It is also considered auspicious for a bride to decorate her hands with Mehendi. One of my colleagues also told me that for children, they would paint the insides of the hands and feet as a way to "cool" them. I haven't investigated but I am thinking it has something to do with estrogen and the leaf - hmmmmmm... i may need that for all the hot flashes I get in Indian elevators and taxis. Oy.

Attached are two pictures, the darker version of the tattoo is when it was applied, it comes out like a tube of cake decorating gel. After a few hours it drys and then you are left with a beautiful stain on your skin. The first picture is on Day 5. It's now day 7 and I am starting to see things fade, but the peacock on my finger, the fish on my knuckles and the basket of fruit on my wrist are still very visible.

This is professional and work approved, so if you come to India, please experience this!

Finally,growing up I remember a song about a tattooed lady, here are lyrics. I am nowhere near as exciting as Lydia, but this song sure paints a vivid picture and I wonder if Mehendi could really do this:

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it, The Wreck of the Hesperus too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!

When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
if you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paree,
or Washington crossing The Delaware.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin',
up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of them all.
For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,
with a view of Niagara that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!

Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.
Here is Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon.
Here's Godiva, but with her pajamas on.

Here is Grover Whelan unveilin' The Trilon.
Over on the west coast we have Treasure Isle-on.
Here's Nijinsky a-doin' the rhumba.
Here's her social security numba.

Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
for he went and married Lydia!

I said Lydia...
(He said Lydia...)
They said Lydia...
We said Lydia, la, la!


  1. Hi I good to see you are really enjoying yourself :). Did you know that the mehandi tube is available at the general grocery stores at something like Rs 10-20. You could keep it in your refrigerator and use it later. Infact near your place, when you come out of the main entrance of the complex you could ask a store across the road. And, ask for "mehandi cone" its referred to a cone since it looks exactly that way :).

    Would like to add one more thing in your post about mehandi for a bride. In northern india, the mehandi is done for the bride not only in arms (yes, arms up to little above the elbow) but also on the legs, typically knee length. Infact there is a celebration associated with it, while mehandi is being put on the to be bride, friends and relatives, dance sing and celebrate it :)

  2. It's beautiful Becky! I love the detail and the design. I often see people here in the states with these but thought they were "henna tattoos". Sounds like they are not the same even though they both fade and wash away over time.

  3. Hey anna - it's the same thing, henna tatoo is called Mehendi here :)