There are books that feel like a book while reading, and then there is Terms and Conditions Apply. The simple and lively stories compel you to take a look back at your own life, and remember when you put these incidences at the back of your mind. Its not just a collection of stories and a true incident, but also a reflection of what every one of us has seen sometime or the other, in our lives. The characters come alive, time and again as people we may have met, or as a persona of our own self.
Not too many works in recent years have managed to capture the nuances of ordinary, daily lives as effortlessly and fluently as Terms and Conditions Apply has done. A wonderful assortment of 13 short stories and a true incident, Whether it is highs and lows of a relationship, chaos and bedlam of school life, petty or harmless office gossips, or the buzz of a salon; all stories are strongly steeped in reality and yet they take a superb flight of fancy in the hands of a master craftsman. Rich in imagination, broad in its scope and elegant in its style, Terms and Conditions Apply is arguably one of the best debut works in recent Hindi literature.
First look at the title and the cover and the book will confuse the readers. But once you turn around the pages the actual idea behind the whole book is revealed. The title is unique and different but as it's a Hindi anthology a much more suitable title could have done justice to the book. The blurb contains the idea and the ideology behind the whole book. It's a blurb which suits the anthology and keeps many things under wrap for readers to enjoy later.
Story No. 1:
A story about family issues, misunderstandings and discontent over small-small things. It highlights the plight of the modern day society. It has the essence of sufferings of the modern day couples. It's a good story.
Story No. 2:
This story highlights the state of affairs of a government school and it's teachers. The story is narrated through the medium of a class and it's students. It's a nice story with a touch of reality in it.
Story No. 3:
It's about life of a person and his helping nature which makes him kind of a hero in his colony. It's about how one can do few good things for the others and be proud of it. It's an average story.
Story No. 4:
A story about domestic violence and suspicions. The story has a compelling narration and a very unique idea. It's a very hard hitting story for the readers.
Story No. 5:
A story of a girl's sanctity and image and about misunderstandings and misconceptions about her in the society. An eye opening story and teaching how to respect a women's privacy.
Story No. 6:
A missing person'a story and how somebody's life is torn in this dilemma of love and confusions. It's a very average story with nothing there in to excite the readers.
Story No. 7:
A crude humor cum emotional story of a man and his antiques. The story has a touch of newness in it and has a nice narration to along with.
Story No. 8:
Another emotional story of two people and how thy end up being each other's support system. But life is not that simple as it looks from outside. Compelling narration and the bitter truth of life has been portrayed perfectly. It covers the sensitivity of relationships very convincingly.
Story No. 9:
A story of two people and their dilemma of whether they are in love or not. But there are a lot more complications than ever imagined. A story of complicated relationships and feelings of people for each other. It's a good story.
Story No. 10:
A story of a man and his diligence towards society. The story is touchy and emotional and a lesson for those who consider helping others as an unholy job.
Story No. 11:
A story of bad influence when a child is in the teens and its repercussions. The story has a simple narration yet a very brave initiative to divert readers attention towards the small things which are usually ignored by many.
Story No. 12:
Another story of crumbling relationships and misunderstandings. It has a regular narration and there is nothing new in the story.
Story No. 13:
An entangled story of so many people living under one roof and how they cope up with pressure and odd situations in their life. It's a good story touching human emotions and exploring the darker sides of human behavior.
Story No. 14:
A very different story of generosity of people and the goodness which still prevails among few in the society. The story is quite different from the others and very unique too.
The anthology has few good stories in it. The narration has been kept simple and to the point. The main highlight of the entire book is it's in Hindi. The stories which are very engaging are story no. 4,5. 11,8,14. The entire concept revolves around the basic human behavior and human reactions towards relationships and issues.
Few stories are not up to the mark in the book and leave a lot to be desired at times. Also the relationship agenda has been highlighted too much so it takes away the freshness away from the book. The English words could have been avoided easily and the book could have been given a much more appropriate title in Hindi.
Overall it's a nice initiative to write an anthology in Hindi. The experience is good enough. It's a mix of some creative and unique narrations plus some average and simple narrations. The readers will get to know a few more things about human psyche with this book.
3 OUT OF 5
P.S: The book was received as part of the "Reviewers Programme" on "The Tales Pensieve".