Tat Tuesday: Navya Sirohi carries her grandmother’s kitchen to Austin

Kaiya Little, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 26, 2022 flipbook.

Flush against her collarbone, numbers inch along Navya Sirohi’s skin, forming an orderly line. Strung together, the single digits form coordinates, which lead to Sirohi’s grandmother’s house in India — just outside of Delhi.

Thousands of miles away in Austin, the advertising freshman said the tattoo conjures up memories of radiating heat from the stove in her grandmother’s kitchen, the sounds of padding feet and the chatter of her family.

“(My grandmother’s house has) always been a place where the entire family just got together,” Sirohi said. “I think (the tattoo) was just a way for me to have that home away from home and have that be (on my body) at all times.”

Sirohi said, as an international student, getting used to being so far away from her family proved an interesting adjustment, which required early morning phone calls, coping with time zone differences and learning to be independent. Sirohi said her first and only tattoo captures those feelings of missing home and helps to metaphorically plant her in her grandmother’s dining room — where her tattoo’s coordinates point.  

“One of my favorite memories is us having breakfast together,” Sirohi said. “The dining room is one of my favorite places. My grandmother is a fantastic cook.”

Sirohi said her tattoo reflects many snapshot family moments, for which her grandmother’s house will always be the perfect backdrop — a combination of endless conversations, noise and chaos that she misses while at school.

“We’re all these really loud personalities that somehow manage to coexist together,” Sirohi said. “(We) get on each other’s nerves like any other family, but we’re pretty tight-knit that way.”

While her father is the only other person in her family with a tattoo, Sirohi said he worried about her getting one when she traveled home over winter break. Hoping to avoid error, Sirohi figured out exactly what she wanted and set out with her aunts to the tattoo shop.

“I had to do a lot of convincing (with) my father — he was like, ‘You’re gonna have this permanently. Are you sure it’s the right coordinates? What if it’s someone else’s house?’” Sirohi said. “Eventually, we did a lot of research, and (he was) convinced.” 

The next time Sirohi visits home, she said she intends to get another tattoo and hopes for its inspiration to come as spontaneously as the first. The most important thing about her tattoos — current and future, Sirohi said, will be that they always immortalize something special, fleeting and enduring.

“I know there’s a lot of stigma around (tattoos), … (but I see it as) creative expression and a great conversation starter,” Sirohi said. “Even if it’s something that eventually doesn’t have that much meaning anymore, it will still always represent a particular stage in my life — I’m always gonna be happy with it.”