4 out of 4 stars
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The Fine Print and Other Yarns by Dinesh Verma is a captivating collection of short stories that largely presents the clash in culture experienced by Indians who traveled to France throughout three decades.
The book is divided into three parts. Part I shares accounts from the 1980s when the economy in India was closed and full of restrictions. Part II deals with an age that witnessed the appearance of the internet and the more relaxed setting of the Indian economy in the ‘90s. Part III largely dwells on the early 2000s when the internet was still growing. In the story ‘The Overcoat’, we meet Amitabh, a generous man who goes through radical change after facing financial hardships in France. In another story, we encounter Alu, a young man from a privileged background who faces the challenges of sharing a hostel with diverse characters. The author also incorporates stories from India and even accounts that are not told necessarily by Indians.
Mostly, I loved reading the book because all the stories were downright hilarious! The change that occurs when a person encounters cultural shocks and economic hardship is simply captivating. The characters in the book are engaging and relatable. Their reactions and comments were really comical and presented the different sides of human nature. The story ‘Bawa and his White Fiat’ features a stubborn man who will not relent and change due to social pressure. Bawa treasures his white Fiat and continuously defends his position of not switching to a newer car model.
While still containing humor, the stories present important themes that made me take a closer look at the underlying message. In the story, ‘Bawa and his White Fiat’ for example, Dinesh Verma highlights the changing economic landscape in India from the stringent 1980s to the more relaxed economic restraints in the 1990s and the growth spurt that follows in the next decade. The story ‘The Mobile Phone Dealer’, features a government employee who travels in the same cabin with a criminal. On one hand, Ram is disgusted by the criminal’s boastful speeches. Yet, Ram recognizes the obstacles the lawbreaker has had to overcome. This conflict makes this story even more thought-provoking.
Dinesh Verma has a unique ability to capture human nature in its rawest and most honest form. While a sprinkling of humor is present in all the stories, every reader captivated by accounts that feature cultural differences especially those from India is bound to love this book. I rate The Fine Print and Other Yarns 4 out of 4 stars.
The Fine Print and Other Yarns
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