Motiba's Tattoos



Motiba's Tattoos
A Granddaughter's Journey from America into Her Indian Family's Past

Mira Kamdar was bom in the United States to an Indian father and a Danish-American mother. Like many Americans, she found herself yearning to know more about her unique past and her family's identity. In MOTIBA'S TATTOOS: A Granddaughter's Journey into her Indian Family's Past (A Plume Book; On-Sale Date: September 4, 2001), Kamdar invites us on her quest to rediscover her Indian roots, as she traces her family's journey from an isolated comer of India to post-modem California.

When Mira Kamdar's Motiba - an Indian word for "grandmother" - died, she realized that a whole world disappeared with her. Motiba was marked with mysterious signs from a lost era: geometric tattoos on her face and forearms. What did these symbols mean? When had they been etched? Why? Haunted by the riddle of Motiba's tattoos and moved by the loss of her grandmother, Kamdar began her tracing the hazy, twisting corridors of the past.

Beginning.with the life story of her Motiba, Kamdar follows her family from feudal, rural 1900s India to the bustling streets of Rangoon in the 1920s and 30s. When' Japan bombs the city in 1941, the family flees to Bombay, where they get their first taste of American life in the sumptuous Art Deco movie houses there. Seduced by Hollywood's fantastic portrayal of post-war American life, Kamdar's 19-year-old father sets off for the United States in the 1950s, marking the

of the family's westward emigration, and their subsequent struggle with multiethnic identity in the late twentieth century.

With rich, vivid details other relatives' fascinating lives, complete with family recipes, photos, and maps, MOTIBA'S TATTOOS deftly evokes the moods and atmospheres of lost times and places. The deeper she delves, the more Kamdar realizes that her family's story is part of a much larger saga. It is one version of the great story of the twentieth century - the story of leaving home, of severing roots, of losing one's tribe. Told in rich, lyrical language, Kamdar's story becomes the story of every family who has ever assimilated into a new culture.

About the Author

Mira Kamdar is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute at the New School
University. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and World
Policy Journal. Currently at work on a novel, she divides her time between New York
City and Vancouver, Washington.
4 Selected for the Bames & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program.
4 Chosen by The Oregonian as one of the "Top Ten Books of 2000" by a regional
4. Online Reading Group Guide Available at
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