Saturday, September 12, 2009

Leaving India: My Family's Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents by Minal Hajratwala

A very refreshing and interesting book about Indian diaspora spread all across the globe. I have always been very interested to hear about someone's personal account of how their near and dear ones settled all across the globe. Every family in India these days has somebody or the other in popular countries like USA, Canada or UK. But, what has always interested me is about those Indian who have made some of the most obscure countries their home. That too for decades and in some case for centuries. I have seen Gujarati traders of East Africa who have been trading there for generations. Similarly I was intrigued by cricketers of Indian origin in other countries.

This is the book that describes about author's extended family's migration from India to Fiji, USA, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Africa. Author herself was born in the USA, spent time in New Zealand and then returned to the USA. Her parents grew up in Fiji.

If you read this book, you will understand how Indian diaspora got to where it is now. You will learn about indentured labor which was so essential for colonialism especially after the abolition of slavery. Although this reads more like one particular family's memoir, you will surely relate to it and understand a lot about the general phenomenon.

It is usually hard to keep readers interested when things become very particular to one's own family. Author does a fabulous job. She does not write pages after pages about her family alone. She just uses their names and incidents as a backdrop but tries very hard to bring out things of commonality and importance relevant to the heart of the matter - that's Indian diaspora all over the world.

This book reads more like a nice novel than somebody's family memoir. That's what got me finish this book. I must say I read it in record time as well. Fairly large book. But, the style and narration is very good. You become part of the book. Characters become very familiar. You will want to know more and more about them. Very well crafted.


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