The Butterfly Generation-A Review

“The Butterfly Generation-A Personal Journey into the Passions and Follies of India’s Technicolour Youth” is the second book by Palash Krishna Mehrotra of “Eunuch Park” fame.

Haven’t you often wondered how things have changed from what they were; say a decade ago? I have often found myself having animated conversations with my husband about how simple life was when we were younger. Internet – the absolutely indispensable ingredient that today’s teens and twenty somethings thrive on- wasn’t that accessible in the 90s.Our needs, our demands were much simpler. I still remember the first time I went to the cyber cafe and the first yahoo id I created. I remember the first chat room at Y! Messenger I visited; how “asl” is what our chats always started with. Today things have changed a lot. The youth of today have far more technology and options at their disposal. It is the generation of Nintendo lovers; ps3 aficionados; social network junkies. Such a paradigm shift in so little time! And this change is not limited; it in fact is everywhere we look at.
“The Butterfly Generation” is a blatant take on India’s youth-their lives and choices available to them. It takes you through various ghettos of urban India. It is a dark comedy of sorts where you are taken for a ride on the wrong side of life without being judgemental about it.
That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another said Adlai Stevenson. This book orchestrates beautifully how our generation is spreading its wings. In many cultures butterflies symbolize rebirth after being inside a cocoon for a period of time; so it is not difficult to relate to the title after reading the book because it reflects upon how this generation has metamorphosed into its current form.
Palash in this book; just as in Eunuch Park; touches on subjects which may often be considered taboo to discuss on. The matter in his books is always intense and he has a niche for putting it in black and white in an uncensored and unapologetic manner. His writing is very multifaceted in the sense that it touches upon various dimensions of the society as we know it. Fragility of relationships; Globalisation; Americanisation of Society; drugs; high paying jobs but with no security; live-in relationships; permanent dissatisfaction in personal and professional lives; intolerance to uptight morality; homosexuality ; hollow indianism ; - all these and more is what The Butterfly Generation is all about. And Palash manages to do it with immaculate ease while painting the canvass with interesting anecdotes for each. As you read it you will find yourself saying ’Hang on a second; I too have often thought of these aspects of my society!”-sometimes feeling that perhaps this book projects a window to today’s generation. In sync with the world we live in is what The Butterfly Generation is to me.
Palash has written this book in three sections. In the first; One-On-One; he touches on very relevant aspects of lives of 20 or 30 somethings and his interaction with them. In the second; wide Angle; he moves a step forward and discusses issues on a broader perspective. Of course then comes my favourite part; Here we are now ,Entertain Us; the section on entertainment. How the “idiot box” has evolved; from just having the swirling ball of Doordarshan as the sole source of entertainment; to today where we have so much to choose from. Once you are done with it what lingers on are the stories of the Wheeling Dealing Nandu; Bobby Brown’s joy ride with drugs dragging him to death; Campa Cola to Coca Cola transformation; Doordarshan to TataSky revolution.
The book has a lot of reference to Delhi and understandably so; the author having spent considerable time there. While you read it the boundary between fiction and non-fiction seems to vanish. He manages to weave a bridge between reality and fiction.”The Butterfly generation” could well be a documentary about the murky yet identifiable part of urban India.
“The Butterfly Generation” is a bold take on the dark underbelly of city life. It shows you a very familiar face of a generation in an uncouth manner and with brutal honesty. Palash has successfully managed to draw parallels and compare between the Soviet Union influenced India to the Americanised India; moving further on to the India which is now inculcating the best of all that the world has to offer while still maintaining its own individuality. If you were born in the 70s or 80s and have grown up in the 90s this book is about you. It is about a generation that is not afraid to call a spade a spade; a generation not afraid to make mistakes; a generation which has the vigour to start over again and again despite all odds. So pick it up and get a sneak peek into the lives of the Urban Indian Youth. The story telling is simple yet has a hypnotic effect; once you start you can’t simply let go till it’s over!