Motiba's Tattoos

Mira Kamdar

Read March 2003

An unexpectedly satisfying book. Kamdar recounts her family's history going back over a century. In the process she gives an account of her biracial upbringing in the US in the 1950s, which does not shed any new light on the times, but also of her family's temporary migrations to Burma, which are informative and fascinating. I've long wondered about the Indian presence in Burma, which I know about only because of a family friend who was raised there; this book partially scratched that itch. By focusing largely on her own family alone, Kamdar brings a certain honesty to the work, avoiding the easy trap of trite ruminations about nationality, migration and imperialism. This has the somewhat paradoxical effect of making a book about ``smaller'' characters somehow more fascinating (or at least less off-putting).