SOME WAY INTO THE BUTTERFLY GENERATION, I flip the book over to check the author’s bio. The first few chapters have left me feeling alienated and I’m wondering if that’s because I’m older. It turns out that I’m actually a few years younger than Palash Krishna Mehrotra. As I read on, I discover that we have things in common. We both take a dim view of glassy airports. We know the same cities—Delhi, Mumbai, Allahabad. He grew up in Allahabad, lived in Delhi and Dehradun, and has visited Mumbai occasionally. I was born in Allahabad, have visited Dehradun, and have lived between Delhi and Mumbai for more than a decade.
Growing up, we watched the same TV shows—there was only one channel to watch. He comes from a family that discouraged TV-watching and encouraged reading. So do I. He wrote poetry in college, and has now published both fiction and nonfiction. So have I. His first collection of essays tried to blend social commentary with travel and memoir. So did mine.
From living and working in big and not-so-big cities, from his memories of the 1980s and 1990s, from television, from his own lovers, Mehrotra draws conclusions about our generation. The book claims to be a “no-holds-barred portrait of young urban Indians”, the story of “one man and one generation”. It contains 22 essays on subjects like parties, sexual dynamics, an English-speaking working class, domestic workers, ragging, television and rock music.