Book Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

There’s a section in my local bookstore that says “Connoisseurs’s Corner” and that is where I pick up my books. This section of books has everything from fiction to poetry to journals to anything that a self-proclaimed connoisseur might want. And I suppose I may have been afflicted with a literary superiority complex because somehow I just dismiss books from any other section. Maybe I’m a bit prejudiced when it comes to books. There are authors I admire and there are those I dismiss as “okayish”. But as with any complex, a literary superiority complex isn’t good either (and also, it’s not very conducive to creativity). Thank goodness, I’ve begun to learn. I don’t want get too prideful. After all, pride walks before a fall.

This little rant of mine regarding pride and complexes might bore you because you may have come here for a book review and not for “this”. But bear with me, this is actually relevant to this review as the book I am reviewing today is not from the “Connoisseur’s Corner” but from some other corner. I did not buy it of course. Rather, a friend gave it to me. She told me it was good and I, on seeing the cover, decided it was probably cheesy writing by some cheesy writer. I was wrong. You really shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.

There are few books that can make you cry and there are few that can make you smile, but this book made me laugh. It’s an easy read that I completed in one evening but it’s a good and hilarious one. The whole story is very different and yet at the same time, resonates with the urban Indian. Here, we follow a bored middle aged man named Ali who decided that after retirement, he needed to start a new business establishment that would keep him occupied. He lives in Vizag and has so affable a personality that any reader will like him. His new project is actually a marriage bureau for rich people who can’t seem to find the right partners. The concept may be a little out of place for a western context but as for a good Indian city like Vizag, it’s perfect. In the book, we also come to know his wife, his assistant and his many clients.

While this book isn’t one I would recommend if you’d like to know the evils of caste-ism or the hows and whats of Indian culture, it does touch on basic elements like inter-caste marriage, arranged marriages and family honour. I think this adds a bit of depth to this light entertainer. One thing that the book does is that it sheds light on wedding customs and practices of different castes and religions that you would not normally know of. In a way, it’s also a bit educating.

In the end, I cannot say that this book is inspiring in the way that Amitav Ghosh or Gabriel Garcia Marquez is, but Farahad Zama is not one to be ignored. I’ve realized that I’m wrong. Books that are not in the “Connoisseur’s Corner” are also good and a literary superiority complex is not to be nurtured. So if you want a light evening book that will make you smile and maybe even, laugh a bit, go ahead, buy it and read it. Happy reading, folks!

  • Author: Farahad Zama
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (2 October 2008)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback Price: Rs. 200
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