Johns Hopkins University professor Anand Pandian explores the history of modern India through the life of his grandfather.
Ayya’s Accounts explores the life of an ordinary man – orphan, refugee, shopkeeper and grandfather – during a century of tremendous hope and upheaval. Born in colonial India into a despised caste of former tree climbers, Ayya lost his mother as a child and came of age in a small town in lowland Burma. Forced to flee at the outbreak of World War II, he made a treacherous 1,700-mile journey by foot, boat, bullock cart and rail back to southern India. Becoming a successful fruit merchant, Ayya educated and eventually settled many of his descendants in the United States. Luck, nerve, subterfuge and sorrow all have their place along the precarious route of his advancement.
Anand Pandian teaches in the department of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. His many books include Crooked Stalks: Cultivating Virtue in South Indiaand a forthcoming book on the creation of cinema in India. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two children.
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