PHOTO: “The Marriage Bureau for Rich People” cover

Piñata brings forth the review of “The Marriage Bureau for Rich People” by Farahad Zama.

We can all imagine a woman acting as a matchmaker in our society. It’s almost a sacred duty that numerous women take up as their part time hobby in south Asian region. A very interesting prospect would be a man who has retired from his job; and he, with the intention of busying himself in some activity and stopping himself from pestering his wife during all the free time that he now has on his hands, starts a marriage bureau.

The way the marriage bureau operates and caters to the needs of all Indians from every caste, religion and status is highly entertaining. Some people coming in are very specific about the caste they will marry into, others are more casual about this factor. There is such a variety of people who come into the bureau, with their colorful demands. Their requirements are then advertised anonymously in the newspaper and a list of suitable matches is then prepared from all the responses to those adds.

Some guys come into the bureau with their mothers and sisters, sit by silently and listen while their female family members dictate the specifications for a perfect bride. Men coming in are more comfortable with giving their pictures to be shown around to prospective brides. And a slight shift in attitude is seen when the girls coming in and their families are slightly more cautious with giving out their pictures. Something that really stuck with us for a long time after finishing the book was this quote:

“We struggle so much for money, power and love, but the world doesn’t care. It just goes round and round in its own circle”

The sadder part of the book is witnessed when the divorcees come looking for a new better half. They have to face far more challenges and are judged more by nearly everyone.

Mr. Ali, the head of the marriage bureau hires a sweet Indian girl Aruna as his assistant to handle some of the work as the bureau becomes more popular and populated with more customers. Aruna’s story is an integral part of the novel and outlines a variety of factors that govern the way marriages are set up and how social class difference and the inability to provide a suitable dowry can be a hindrance in the marriage of many an educated and wonderful girls. The way her father’s illness, expenditure of her family’s savings in her father’s recovery leads to the annulment of her engagement is heart wrenching.

"The Marriage Bureau for Rich People” by Farahad Zama
PHOTO: Newspaper

One of my favorite quotes from the book was: “People keep looking for the perfect one, but perfection is an attribute of God alone.”

The character of Mrs. Ali provides an insight into the important role wives and mothers play in shaping a man’s life and choices. Her dealings with her husband Mr.Ali, the way she keeps him in line is really fun to read. At various instances, she is stuck between the devil and the deep sea: her son and her husband. When they both stand on opposites sides of the battlefield, she is the one caught in the crossfire.

The way people are brought together, the factors that lead to matchmaking and the significance of arranged marriage even in today’s day and age has been delightfully brought to attention and illustriously elaborated in this fascinating book. This book is a treat through and through and will end on a high note leaving you extremely entertained.