Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents by Minal Hajratwala
Recommended by Girija Karamcheti
Adult Services Librarian, Fallbrook Branch
In telling the story of the migration of her extended family from traditional India to distant parts of the world, author Minal Hajratwala is telling the larger story of the global movement of peoples. The stories begin in a small village in Gujerat, India, where her extended family is rooted in mythic origins in the land, and who start to change as their occupations change from that assigned by tradition. Members of the family leave India to migrate to various parts of the colonial world. One migration leads to Fiji where they start as tailors and build up a department store. Another migration leads to South Africa where they start as indentured laborers and become food vendors. Parts of the family migrate to England, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and America because of various economic and educational reasons. Minal delves into all the many small decisions individuals make during the process of assimilation into a new society. She gives us a unique perspective as she tells her family‘s stories in the context of a globalizing world. The book is a beautifully written description of people as they move to different cultures and the changes that brings. This is a must read for anyone interested in the why of migration and the cultural transformation it brings to people’s lives.