A Dead Man’s Tattoo

I was awoken last night at 4:00am by my ringing phone. It was Mumbai calling, about a dead man’s tattoo.

See, my textual tattoo post is one of the most popular on this site. It gets more than 150,000 page views a year.

Occasionally, somebody mistakes me for a tattoo artist, or an expert on textual tattoos. I’m neither.

Last night was such an occasion, and the oddest tattoo question I’ve ever received.

On December 10, a European man was hit and killed by a train in Matunga railway station in Mumbai, India. He didn’t have any identification on him, but he was covered in tattoos. My Indian caller was hoping that I could apply my, ahem, tattoo expertise to the case. The caller also emailed me some grisly photos of the body.

I had a brief moral quandary, in that I figured I could hit up some online communities like Reddit and AskMetafilter to help identify the tattooed man. However, in doing so, I ran a small risk of inadvertently notifying his next of kin.

That issue has been cleared up, as my Indian caller sent me an article (warning: it includes a photo of the corpse) about the incident.

All in all, it felt like the first page of a hard-boiled detective novel.

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