Henna tattoos on a man? I got them in India


































I wasted little time on my arrival in Delhi last month.  We went to a small but relatively well-off market place and there in the street was a young man applying henna tattoos.  How much?  1,400 rupees or about £17 to do my right arm.  And here it is and how beautiful it looked.  The speed and skill took my breath away.  It was there in a flash and afterwards I had the anxiety of holding my arm away from my body to avoid smudging the henna, which is in strong relief and vulnerable.  I wasn't totally succesful and the area on the bend of my arm became damaged.

The major shortcoming of henna tattoos is that this beauty is like that of a butterfly.  It doesn't last long.  Quickly the henna starts to dry and become crusty.  Once that happens it starts to flake off only when I returned to the hotel I washed the dry henna off.  I don't think this was a good idea.  It didn't harm the stain in an obvious way but may have led to the tattoo being less durable. And above you can see how it looked the next day.  Very different and much less complex in its design.  A week later it had mostly faded away and now I'm back in the UK it has gone.  Swimming in the sea in Sri Lanka didn't help either.
A few days later after my Delhi exploits I was in a small village in the state of Himachel Pradesh at the low level of the foothills heading up towards the Himalayas.  There I went to what described itself as a beauty parlour but was in fact the tiniest of shops.  I had my other arm and both my hands done for 500 rupees.  These designs are far less complicated but beautiful for all that.


With these tattoos I followed my instructions, which was to not apply water and just rub off the dry and crusty henna.  As a result the markings were a little more long lasting though only by a day or two.  In the end I was glad to see the back of them once they were no longer bold and clear.

The Indians were much amused and delighted to see an Englishman sporting henna tattoos.  I had wondered if they might have found it odd of me to do this, given that only women have these in their culture.  But no, there was no sign of offence whatsover and the tattooists themselves were just glad to take my money.


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