This post has been written for the theme “26 Places, 26 Memories” for the #AtoZChallenge.
P FOR PRAGUE:
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is known for its exquisite medieval architecture, picturesque Gothic churches and castles, and scenic Vltava River. The Charles Bridge, lined with beautifully crafted statues, is the most pictorial representation of this city. A vibrant underground party scene, and reasonably priced shopping, add to its charms. One can make quick day trips to nearby spa town Karlovy Vary, and picturesque village Cesky Krumlov, from there.
My brother pursued his Master’s degree in Prague, so my parents and I visited him just after he graduated in June 2015. Our month-long vacation took us to Slovakia, Austria and Germany; but the longest and loveliest portion of the holiday was spent in Prague. Read on to know why it has a special place in my heart.
PERMANENTLY PRINTED IN PRAGUE:
I’d always wanted a tattoo, but was hesitant to brand myself with something meaningless. A few months previously, on a trip with my husband visiting some iconic Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) of Punjab, India, I narrowed in on what I wanted for my first tattoo.
‘Nirbhau, Nirvair- Without Fear, Without Hatred’ from the Mool Mantra (primary prayer) of the Sikh religion, seemed the perfect choice. I love the simplicity and poignant meaning of these words.
After quizzing my friends who’ve been inked before, I concluded that tattoo artists in Europe were a safer bet than Indian ones (or at least were back then). With a little research, my brother identified a good tattoo parlour in Prague. My traditional parents seemed the last hurdle to cross.
To prevent any argument, I announced my decision instead of seeking permission. Despite being 27 years old, I was expecting to be rebuked. To my complete surprise, my mother announced she’d like to get tattooed with me!
Happy that I hadn’t been foiled, I played along, expecting her to change her mind at the last minute. As a fan of her exquisite design sense, I asked her to sketch the tattoo. We chose the saying in Gurmukhi (written Punjabi) script, and she decorated it with two beautiful sets of leaves- to denote a mother-daughter pairing. Our artist was Slovakian, who’d crossed the border to the Czech Republic for better economic opportunities.
When the fateful day arrived, I was shitting bricks, while my mother calmly got herself permanently inked! I couldn’t back out after that. Fortunately, we had chosen a skilled artist, and the fleshy part of our forearms for the tattoo. I felt nothing except for a slight stinging sensation. We were both done within an hour.
My mother and I have always been very close to each other; but getting ourselves permanently inked together in the Czech Republic, by a Slovakian, in Gurmukhi; was an unbeatable experience. It’s been four years since, and I’m still trying to convince my father, brother and husband to join our tattoo bandwagon. However, it seems the next one to join will probably be my son 😉
Come back tomorrow for the letter Q and another story!
Nirbhau Nirvair- Without Fear, Without Hate
The Anands in Prague, June 2015
Posing in front of Prague Castle and the Vtlava River, Prague, June 2015
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*The copyright in all pictures belongs to nooranandchawla.
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A for Amritsar, B for Bhopal, C for Cambodia, D for Delhi, E for England, F for France, G for Gwalior, H for Hemkund Sahib, I for Italy, J for Jim Corbett National Park, K for Kamakhya Devi Temple, L for London, M for Munich, N for Naples, O for Odisha