This article appeared in the April 2, 2003 Cambridge Chronicle.


Across the pond collaboration celebrates shared heritage


By Susie Davidson



Local open mic/musical event impresario Manisha Shahane met fellow American-born, ethnically Indian, singer-songwriter Tanuja Desai Hidier last August on London’s Portobello Road. The meeting, remarkable if not predestined, has evolved into a perhaps inevitable artistic collaboration to be debuted this Saturday from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Inman Square.


Hidier has just written her first novel, Born Confused, a Larry King pick-of-the-week which was recently featured on CNN’s “Your World Today,” the radio program “Voice of America”, as well as in the December 2002 Flying Starts issue of Publisher's Weekly. In addition, the book has been named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults Book of the Year. She will read from the book at the event, Shahane will perform a set of original songs, and the two will join for a Hidier song from an upcoming soundtrack based on the novel.


The book’s title derives from ABCD, American-Born Confused Desi, a slightly derogatory term used by South Asians to connote second generation Americans at odds with their South Asian background. (Desi is Hindi for “from my country.”) Set within New York City's volatile bhangra/Asian Underground club scene, it chronicles Indian-American heroine Dimple Lala through a personally momentous summer. “With its cross-generational appeal, this book will capture the heart of anyone who is merging two or more cultures, or trying to understand the perspective of someone who is,” said Shahane. The book is available at local outlets including the Harvard Bookstore and the Coop.


Manishamusic, Shahane’s project of original songs, will open Saturday’s show. A pianist, she will be accompanied by bassist Blake Newman and drummer Matthew Taylor. Hidier will then read from Born Confused; both singers will then collaborate to perform Hidier’s song “Visionary.” A Q&A and book signing/sale will follow.


The London-based Hidier is the lead singer of the rock band San Transisto. Born in Boston and raised in Springfield, she also worked as a writer/editor for magazines and web projects in New York.


“I happen to be “100 percent” Maharashtrian, with some aunts who were bold enough to marry outside their linguistic culture,” explained Shahane, who noted the special connection she feels for the half-Maharashtrian and half-Gujurati heritage of Born Confused’s heroine, Dimple Lala. “In my upcoming release, Peace in Progress, I recall the Marathi language of my youth,” she said. (Clips of Peace in Progress may be heard at 


“Art and music as modes of self-exploration are pervasive throughout Born Confused, making it a truly appropriate reading for Zeitgeist Gallery,” she said. “Even though the novel is centered on a young adult of 17, we'd like to attract an audience of all ages and sizes.”


The Zeitgeist, a community-based center for cross-cultural and multi-media ventures, has, since 1994, provided a forum and growing audience for of hundreds of artists with experimental and emerging works.


Manisha Shahane and first-time novelist Tanuja Desai Hidier will perform on Saturday, April 5 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Zeitgeist Gallery a Massachusetts not-for-profit in the process of obtaining federal tax-exempt status, located at 1353 Cambridge St. in Inman Square. For information, please contact The suggested donation for this event is $5.

To learn more about Tanuja Desai Hidier, please visit