Monday, September 14, 2009

Review: Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

The vibrant and attractive cover of this book and a good review in one of the magazines, made me decide that I surely wanted to check out this book. It also helped that one of my friends had bought it by chance.

Mr Ali is the main protagonist. After retirement, both he and his wife feels that rather than whiling away his time and interfering in the matters of household, opening a marriage bureau could be a great way to keep oneself engaged. A Marriage Bureau appeared to be a good business option because it hardly requires any investment and does not need too much of physical work or running around either. This book is a slow read. You can read it at your pace because for a long, long time there is no gripping story. The book is based in Vishakhapatnam and paints a beautiful picture of the city and the life there. This book is a clear winner in illustrating the sights and sounds of Vizag or for any small Indian city quite beautifully. More than the story, what stands out is the writer’s eye for detail and the pain he has taken to re-create the place and its life through his masterful words. When I read about this book, what caught my attention was the “marriage bureau” angle. It sounded like a very interesting background for any story. It can present an opportunity to explore the interesting facets of how an Indian marriage takes place.

There is a plethora of characters that walk in and out of the story, and eventually we are led to the story of Aruna, Mr Ali’s assistant, and her marriage. But frankly, there’s no “once upon a time” or “…and then one day” moment. I kept waiting for the “real” story but the characters come and go and they do not become key characters of this book.

The book does not work for me atleast; I don’t like fiction that does not tell a story. I will give it 5.5 or maximum 6 out of 10 only for the writer’s efforts in understanding the nuances of ‘true’ India and crafting the daily life in absolute detail – what with the troubles of a lower class house maid, to the dynamics of a retired couple, to the trials of a lower middle class young girl and the even the ordinariness of daily life in a quaint Indian city. It is also interesting to see the mirror of a person’s prejudices and expectations in the partner one is looking at.

It is not a page-turner but it keeps you interested in a different kind of charm that spells ‘India’. May be you can try this book when you have read a couple of heavy duty books and want a slow read. 

Image credit: Amazon