Cover image for Motiba's tattoos : a granddaughter's journey into her Indian family's past
Motiba's tattoos : a granddaughter's journey into her Indian family's past
Kamdar, Mira.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : PublicAffairs, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxv, 289 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
1230 Lexile.
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E184.G84 K36 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This is the story of the Indian Diaspora - the great migration of Indians from their homeland to the New World - through one woman's memories of her remarkable family. Delving back into the world into which her grandmother was born in a tiny village in Kathiawar, India, Mira Kamdar begins a wondrous journey into the past. She follows her family as it emigrates from the feudal, rural India of 1900 to the bustling streets of Rangoon in the 1920s and 1930s. After a harrowing flight out of war-torn Burma, the family returns to their profitable businesses, only to be stripped of everything and expelled by the Burmese dictatorship in the early 1960s. The family begins a new life in Bombay. It is there that they are first introduced to America. Hollywood captures the imagination of Kamdar's father, who, at the age of nineteen, is packed off to make the family's fortune in the United States. We witness his travails as one of the first Indian immigrants to the US in the 1950's and see how his children and grandchildren grapple with a multi-ethnic identity in post-modern America.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Kamdar, a senior fellow at New School University's World Policy Institute, examines the Indian diaspora by telling her own family's story. Grandmother Motiba was born in a feudal village in 1908 and spent her final years, in the 1990s, flying around the world to visit her children, who had settled in Europe, the U.S., and Singapore. Motiba married into a family with business interests in Burma; the family spent much of Kamdar's father's childhood there. In the U.S., where the author's father trained as an engineer, he met and wed a Danish-American student; they raised their family in the suburbs of Los Angeles, while he commuted to aerospace firms, working, among other projects, on the Apollo missions. Kamdar organizes her narrative around places: Kathiawar, the village where Motiba grew up; Rangoon, where several of her children were born; Bombay, where the family moved after World War II; and America, where the family's eldest son found a new home. A fascinating tale, appropriate for all Asian and ethnic studies collections. --Mary Carroll

Library Journal Review

In this story of her grandmother's life, Kamdar (senior fellow, World Policy Inst., New School) brilliantly captures the experiences of the Indian diaspora in the 20th century. Motiba, Kamdar's paternal grandmother, was born in a village in Kathiawar, in western India, in 1908. During the Twenties and Thirties, Motiba's family sought their fortune in Burma. The bombing of Rangoon by the Japanese during World War II and later General Ne Win's nationalist policies forced the family, along with the rest of the Indian community, to flee to India. In the Sixties, Motiba's son emigrated to the United States as a student and eventually married a Danish American. This account of Motiba's odyssey through the 20th century is effectively blended with the wider context of world events, Motiba's Jain religion and culture, Asian Indian immigration to the United States, and the author's own experience of growing up in two cultures. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.DRavi Shenoy, Naperville P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. XI
1 Kathiawarp. 1
2 Rangoonp. 73
3 Bombayp. 129
4 Americap. 179
5 Kaliyngap. 245
Acknowledgmentsp. 271
Glossaryp. 277
Notesp. 285