Author: Pankaj Mishra
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0330444123
An unusual travel book about small town in India, it is full of startling insights and wit.
For years they were inconsequential little dots on the map; squalid, unremarkable places where one stopped briefly for petrol or a cheap meal. Pankaj Mishra's travels, however, reveal a different truth. Indian small towns, he discovers, have shed their sleepy, half-apologetic air; the aggressive ambition and self-confidence of their inhabitants have transformed them beyond recognition - so much so that they now threaten to upstage metropolitan India.
In almost every town he travels to - from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh to Kottayam in Kerala - the author sees unmistakable signs of progress: palatial houses built in the worst tradition of kitsch; young businessmen with gold chains, Hawaiian shirts and Marutis; super markets and boutiques; MTV and indipop. Overdressed guests at an ostentatious wedding in Hapur argue about whether the dowry paid was fifteen lakh rupees or twenty; three small-time businessmen from the bylanes of Kanpur, holidaying in Kanyakumari, plan a sight-seeing tour of London and worry about their English and their manner; a teenaged girl from Jhansi cultivates her spoilt-girl looks and dreams of making it big as a fashion model.
Butter Chicken is a brilliant debut.