Flora and Tea, feeling the love at Mission Ink

Mission Ink, 12:01 p.m.

A woman has just strolled out, flustered, at the news that no one is doing ear piercings today. Three tattoo artists stand around in the waiting area.

Andrew: [said in a surly British accent] What is love? It doesn’t exist. It’s all lust and wanting.

Flora: Love feels good.

Andrew: What does it feel like?

Flora: Like walking on air. You think about them all the time….

Andrew: So you want to possess them? And you fear you’ll lose them.

Flora: It has nothing to do with fear.

[Andrew walks out, shaking his head. Flora continues.]

The reason people fall in love is that they see the best part of themselves in each other. When they start seeing each other as individuals, that’s when they separate.

ML: Do people come in here wanting to tattoo someone’s name on themselves?

Flora: I see more cover-ups. In the tattoo business we say there is a jinx to getting people’s names tattooed. More people actually get tattoos of their parents, siblings and children.

[Tea, another tattoo artist, walks in.]

Tea: I love the tattoo for my grandmom on my leg. It’s in the style of the Day of the Dead. It says “Always in my Heart.”

Tea’s tattoo for his grandmom.

Flora: This one time a girl came in and got her boyfriend’s name tattooed on her waist. They were in and out all day, trying to decide if she would get the tattoo. I asked her, “Why are you doing this?” And she said, “He likes it. And I can get it covered up later, anyway.”

[Andrew returns.]

ML: So what is the purpose of love? Is it only to procreate?

Tea: It’s within our genes to procreate.

Andrew: The struggle is to remain monogamous. See, for men it’s a physical thing. [points to Tea] You’re 23. Say you are madly in love with this woman. You love her, worship her, adore her. And then she’s in a car accident, paralyzed from the waist down. Would you stay?

Tea: [laughing] A woman wouldn’t stay, either.

ML: So, what’s been the craziest thing you have done for love?

Flora: I went all the way to Pakistan!

ML: How?

Flora: I was really into Vedic astrology. And so I was on this Vedic astrology site talking to this man that I thought was an astrologer. And he thought I was an astrologer. And then we realized that neither of us knew anything about astrology. But we kept on talking. Because he was so polite. Unlike so many other people on the Internet.

We were talking for almost a year. He and his family kept inviting me to visit them in Pakistan. I wasn’t planning to go, but then one day I decided that I needed to get out of here. I planned to go to India but I didn’t know so many people there so I thought I would just stop by in Pakistan on the way there and just visit them.

I loved the people. I loved the simplicity and the innocence. And his family was so gracious and wonderful. I ended up staying there for seven months. I got married.

ML: What did the family say about your tattoos?

Flora: They liked it. They asked me if it washes off. When I got married, they painted the henna around it.

Then I came back here. We did a long-distance relationship for a year and a half before he could come. Now he lives here, and manages a valet service.

That was the craziest thing that I ever did. It was the biggest girl thing I ever did. It changed my life.

Andrew: I haven’t done anything for love. Love doesn’t exist.

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Inspired by her father, Mallika Menon ended up in the Mission District pursuing a career in journalism production. Her first impression of the Mission was that the predominant Hispanic community resembles the Indian community back in Delhi. Menon never visited the Mission before, but she knows she will enjoy it.

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  1. Regarding the comment of “no one is doing ear piercing today.” That is INCORRECT. I am the Piercier here at Mission Ink and I was unfortunately running late this day. We do piercings EVERYDAY. We have a fabulous group of creative artists here and we love to adorn people with ink and steel….So, come check us out…