I recently read “The Marriage Bureau for Rich people” by Farahad Zama.
The blurb reads:
“What does somebody with a wealth of common sense do if retirement palls?
Why, open a marriage bureau, of course. And soon Mr Ali, from beautiful Vizag in South India, sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs Ali and able assistant Aruna look on with careful eyes.
But although many clients go away happy, problems lurk behind the scenes as Aruna nurses a heart-rending secret; while Mr Ali cannot see that he rarely follows the sage advice he so freely dishes out to others. And when love comes calling for Aruna, an impossible dilemma looms…
A colourful coastal town and contemporary marriage bureau prove a perfect backdrop for a splendid array of characters making sense of all sorts of pride and prejudice – and the ways in which true love won’t quite let go – in this witty and big-hearted debut novel.”
This is a great little book covering life in south India as Mr Ali opens a marriage bureau and helps people to find spouses. There are so many different characters, from the poorer members of society to the rich elite. Aruna is Mr Ali’s assistant and comes from a poor family who are trying to marry her off but struggling due to their poor status. She falls in love with a wealthy client but knows a marriage is out of the question due to the massive differences between their lifestyles and family status.
Mr Ali deals with difficult customers and easy customers, and seems to have a knack for sorting out even the most complicated situations. His wife, Mrs Ali, helps out occasionally and has her own ways of getting customers to cooperate. Their only problem is their son, who won’t settle down and get married but prefers to fight for rights and justice by protesting at demonstrations, much to his parents’ frustration. He is one example of not conforming to a society that sees certain behaviours as potentially damaging for that person and their family.
I never realised how complex a marriage arrangement could be: there are questions of marrying someone of the same caste or a different one, what benefits the couple bring to each other’s families, how compatible husbands and wives will be, how height and looks can rule out so many matches, and so on. There are so many things to consider but I feel like I understand it all a bit better now.
I give it 8/10 because it is a fascinating insight into life in such a complex culture and is a great read! I would read it again!