Pankaj Mishra’s Butter Chicken in Ludhiana


The tagline of the book Butter Chicken in Ludhiana says ‘Travels in Small Town India’. The author is a paid travel writer who starts his journey from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. He goes to Ambala in Haryana and travels to Udaipur and Bundi in Rajasthan. Then comes back to Hapur in Western UP before he begins his journey to South India.

In the south, he lands up in Bangalore. Then goes to Trichur, Kottayam, and Shimoga before he travels from Shimoga to Benaras via Madras. And then from Benaras to Murshidabad and Jehanabad in Bihar. In the process Kolkata a couple of times. After reading the complete book I fail to understand the objective of the book.

Butter Chicken in Ludhiana

The Butter Chicken in Ludhiana author seems to be absolutely confused about what he is supposed to write. He seems to be carrying his notebook to all these places and writes about anything and everything. Looks like a personal diary with no point of view, no message, no thoughts. Most of the time he describes the hotel rooms that he stayed in.

Most of the time during his visits to these places, he misses meeting the guy he went to meet there or decides not to meet after reaching there for no reason at all. At Hapur, all he does is describe a complete Baraat scene, which I am sure he has not seen for the first time, himself coming from a small town and living in North India most of his life.

Indians as Obsessed

He tries to portray Indians as obsessed, people from north to south, everywhere. Something that he thought was uniform across the country. But at the same time he himself buys and reads adult magazines at every station and jumps to every opportunity of watching a blue film, and then claims, he does so only to see how people react to these movies.

He listens to private conversations between people and takes them down in his notebook. Be it a couple sitting in a restaurant or a family traveling by train. A complete breach of privacy… At times he talks about people, hotels, and at times about himself. No one thing links to another. The title of the book happens to be just a joke in one of his overheard conversations. He did not even step into Punjab.


I picked up the book because I have not seen many books written on small towns in India. But the book turned out to be a big disappointment as it was written by someone who assumed himself to be ‘too urban’. I think foreigners writing about India do better justice to the travels to these places. I think the disappointment is bigger because I had been to most of the places mentioned in the book. And was wondering why the author could not see anything good there. Why did he not try and connect with people, rather than looking at them superficially and writing his assumptions about them?

But I would love to be in the author’s shoes someday, to be paid for traveling and writing…:-)

PS: Shivaji, your observation is so right about Indian authors. They somehow tend to prove what they try to say.

You may buy the book Butter Chicken in Ludhiana Travels in small-town India by Pankaj Mishra at Amazon.

Butter Chicken in Ludhiana

This site is Amazon Associate and may earn a small commission on purchases that you make through the links, without impacting what you pay for it.


  1. I like Pico Iyer’s books… Also M.J. Akbars memoir’s – ByLines – this is not strictly travel but qite a good and fast reading….

  2. Nice analysis of the book. I am reading Any Rand’s Fountain Head and am so tempted to write my analysis and understanding of it. Infact i am taking notes – hope i get time to put it on my blog sometime. Btw, have you read: Anurag Mathur – The Inscrutible Americans. Although not a travel bit – but i liked the style and so i can’t say that Indian writers are good for nothing. Also take a look at a good travel log that i came across and book marked.

  3. check out this movie and the book as well…may be read the book first and then see the movie..its just so wonderful..all about how the author sees the world on his travel…The Motocycle Diaries. Btw, its not about Indian towns..

  4. =’Brand New News From The Timber Industry!!’=

    ========Latest Profile==========
    Energy & Asset Technology, Inc. (EGTY)
    Current Price $0.15

    Recognize this undiscovered gem which is poised to jump!!

    Please read the following Announcement in its Entierty and
    Consider the Possibilities
    Watch this One to Trade!

    Because, EGTY has secured the global rights to market
    genetically enhanced fast growing, hard-wood trees!

    EGTY trading volume is beginning to surge with landslide Announcement.
    The value of this Stock appears poised for growth! This one will not
    remain on the ground floor for long.

    Keep Reading!!!!


    -Energy and Asset Technology, Inc. (EGTY) owns a global license to market
    the genetically enhanced Global Cedar growth trees, with plans to
    REVOLUTIONIZE the forest-timber industry.

    These newly enhanced Global Cedar trees require only 9-12 years of growth before they can
    be harvested for lumber, whereas worldwide growth time for lumber is 30-50 years.

    Other than growing at an astonishing rate, the Global Cedar has a number of other benefits.
    Its natural elements make it resistant to termites, and the lack of oils and sap found in the wood
    make it resistant to forest fire, ensuring higher returns on investments.

    the wood is very lightweight and strong, lighter than Poplar and over twice
    as strong as Balsa, which makes it great for construction. It also has
    the unique ability to regrow itself from the stump, minimizing the land and
    time to replant and develop new root systems.

    Based on current resources and agreements, EGTY projects revenues of $140 Million
    with an approximate profit margin of 40% for each 9-year cycle. With anticipated
    growth, EGTY is expected to challenge Deltic Timber Corp. during its initial 9-year cycle.

    Deltic Timber Corp. currently trades at over $38.00 a share with about $153 Million in revenues.
    As the reputation and demand for the Global Cedar tree continues to grow around the world
    EGTY believes additional multi-million dollar agreements will be forthcoming. The Global Cedar nursery has produced
    about 100,000 infant plants and is developing a production growth target of 250,000 infant plants per month.

    Energy and Asset Technology is currently in negotiations with land and business owners in New Zealand,
    Greece and Malaysia regarding the purchase of their popular and profitable fast growing infant tree plants.
    Inquiries from the governments of Brazil and Ecuador are also being evaluated.


    The examples above show the Awesome, Earning Potential of little
    known Companies That Explode onto Investor�s Radar Screens.
    This stock will not be a Secret for long. Then You May Feel the Desire to Act Right
    Now! And Please Watch This One Trade!!

    GO EGTY!

    All statements made are our express opinion only and should be treated as such.
    We may own, take position and sell any securities mentioned at any time. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect
    to predictions, goals, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are
    not statements of historical fact and may be “forward, looking
    statements.” forward, looking statements are based on expectations, estimates
    and projections at the time the statements are made that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results
    or events to differ materially from those presently anticipated. This newsletter was paid $3,000 from third party (IR Marketing).
    Forward,|ooking statements in this action may be identified through the use of words such as: “projects”, “foresee”, “expects”. in compliance with Se’ction 17. {b), we disclose the holding of EGTY shares prior to the publication of this report. Be aware of an inherent conflict of interest resulting from such holdings due to our intent to profit from the liquidation of these shares. Shares may be sold at any time, even after positive statements have been made regarding the above company. Since we own shares, there is an inherent conflict of interest in our statements and opinions. Readers of this publication are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward,looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions and expectations involving various risks and uncertainties that could cause results to
    differ materially from those set forth in the forward- looking statements. This is not solicitation to buy or sell stocks, this text is
    or informational purpose only and you should seek professional advice from registered financial advisor before you do anything related with buying or selling stocks, penny stocks are very high risk and you can lose your entire investment.

  5. Shivaji, Hav read only one Pico Iyer book till now, its ‘ Falling off the map’, I think I did write the review on my blog sometime back…I need to read some more of his writings. Will pickup M J Akbar on my next trio to Strands.

    Crazy Joy, Thanks a lot…:-)


  6. Very honest review and very correct. I read this book about four years back when it had just been published. Couldn’t go beyond the first 30 pages or so.

    Indian authors? Read ‘The Glass Palace’ by Amitav Ghosh. Excellent!

    ~ Arun


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here