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Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India Paperback – January 1, 2007
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Somehow, though, i feel as if, in some pages, author lost focus of what he wants to write and merely slapped the words in absence of so-called vocabulary. Somewhere, the book gave me the feeling of some bollywood movie with art actors in it but with loose script on many other places. My first read in the genre of travel writing, "Butter chicken...," is a passable read but it did not influence me much, in going for a second go!
Frequently, I was just stunned. By the author's sharp insight into the minds of the people he met, especially in the first half, when he is in the north. The people he describes are not unusual or quirky. They are just everyday people. The kind Indians meet all the time in markets, bus stations and of course while in the train.(I can bet no one has described Indian train travel conversations as accurately as Pankaj Mishra has.)
What Mishra does is point out with amazing sharpness, their quirks, their petty concerns, the conditioning of their minds, what's touching about their lives,and why these typical Indians are so so funny, when you step back and look at them,as if you were meeting them the first time.
There is definitely something happening in Indian society. A huge undercurrent of social and economic change which in turn is changing the quality of people's values, customs, hopes and dreams.There's a lot of talk about the big city part of it, but no one's looking at the small towns. Mishra's focus on them is therefore topical, relevant and important.
I have gone back several times to Butter Chicken in Ludhiana. Just to read my favourite portions, chuckle to myself and marvel at how real it is.
That's the kind of book it is.
However, the writing is of calibre and views on the contexts, little that they appear, strong!! - on Indian urbanism especially!
The forgiving note is the afterword by the author, which also sounds like an apology by him- of taking a late cognizance of the dreariness of the writing!! That it was on a budget, in a time of his unprepared youth, of his not having a purpose, not having a genre etc etc. The apology is well taken!!
But towards the end of the book his description of Bihar and Banares were very deep, well written and thought provoking.
The main problem is: he starts out very negative, and keeps repeating same themes again and again (attitude towards sanitation and women, for example). If I didn't know anything about India, I would have never dared to go there after reading first 20 pages of this book. But since I have been there many times, his take seemed a bit exaggerated and hyper-cynical. I think he highlighted the pathetic and darker side of small-town culture much more than the positive side. One example is the food. He always complains the food is "too greasy and overcooked". Come on! What other kind of food was he exposed to at the time he wrote the book? I don't reckon he ate much continental food in Mashobra or Allahabad.
Overall, it is a reasonably good book for Indian readers since they will identify with many situations and will find the book funny. But it's a little too scary if you are not Indian and want to travel there.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
and i received it quite faster than i expected.
so in that point iam very content about it.
also book is also in good condition.Read more
To each his own, I guess.
in various Indian cities like Bundi, Udaipur, Bangalore, Benares, etc.