Gamchhas, which are small pieces of cloth used in India as towels, symbolize one’s connection to people, places, and cultures. Piya's father, despite expressing no interest in remaining connected to his Indian roots after moving to Seattle, refuses to throw his away, even though it looks moldy and disgusting after years of use. Thus, holding onto his gamchhas keeps him connected to his home in one small way. As Piya relearns the word itself and uses gamchhas provided to her by Fokir, she becomes more connected to her own Indian roots and to Fokir. Later, gamchhas become very literal means of staying connected to life itself, as Kusum's father uses a gamchha to help tie himself and his uncle to a tree during a cyclone.
The The Hungry Tide quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gamchhas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner Books edition of The Hungry Tide published in 2006.).
Part 1: Words Quotes
The timeline below shows where the symbol Gamchhas appears in The Hungry Tide. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: At Anchor
Part 1: Words
...in sharing any Bengali words with her. Finally, he tells her the cloth is called gamchha. Piya thinks that once, Bengali was a violent language for her—her parents fought in Bengali,... (full context)
Part 2: Destiny
Part 2: Casualties