Bengali tattoo

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(See the Bengali tattoo archive, if you want inspiration or have pictures to share!)

I was walking near home Sunday when I saw two 25-35 year old normal-looking white guys walking by, one of them with a tattoo in Indian script on his upper left arm walking by. As we approached, I glanced at his tattoo again. Jeepers. It wasn't Devanagari, but Bengali script. Who walks around with a Bengali tattoo?

By then, he'd walked past, but I turned around, and called out to him, "hey, excuse me, can I read your tattoo?" He smiled, extended his arm, and I read "Hare Ram Hare Ram Hare Ram" in a circle around his arm, an invocation to Rama, the mythological Hindu warrior-king. We introduced ourselves, talked for a minute. The tattoo bearer described himself as a Vaishnavite (a strain of Hinduism popularized in the west by ISKCON), and was aware of the Bengali language program at UC Berkeley.

We talked for a minute more, shook hands, walked away. How random that the first person I'd see with a Bengali tattoo would be a non-cultish-looking white Hindu guy in Berkeley.

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