Skip to main content

A Book Review: Farahad Zama's novel The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is delightful to read

There is a delightful quaintness to Farahad Zama's debut novel titled The Marriage Bureau for Rich People and its sequel The Many Conditions of Love. 

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People revolves around Mr. Ali, a retired government clerk, who starts a marriage bureau in Vizag to keep himself busy.

                                                                                    (Image: isahitya)

Mrs. Ali adds intelligent observations and practical solutions to keep it going during its initial phases. She brings in the element of easy going, witty conversations and breathes life into an otherwise dull routine. Subtle references are made about their son, Rehman, who is a social activist, 

He is often taken into police custody for raising slogans against the government to protect the rights of poor farmers. His parents are worried about their only son and find it difficult to understand why he has to take to the streets to protest and get beaten up for the cause of farmers when they don't even have farmers in the family. It doesn't help matters when Rehman falls in love with a Hindu girl whom his parents disapprove of.

This twist also takes you into the practical difficulties of a Hindu-Muslim marriage in India. You get the drift, don't you?

The story gathers momentum when she finds a Brahmin girl called Aruna to work as an assistant to Mr.Ali - how the work flow is divded, the practical aspects of running a bureau are also detailed in a way that you would feel that you are a part of the family.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People delves into the kind of marriages that are arranged by families. Every family comes with its set of unique demands. 

There is a woman from a royal family that is known for good looking men and women with long noses, Her demand is that her son should marry a good looking woman with a long nose and she doesn't mind if the girl is not from a rich family.

That's just one example. 

The book takes you through many more. How Mr. Ali uses his intelligence and sense of humor to keep his marriage bureau flourishing is the icing on the cake.

The book gives you an interesting insight into how Indian marriages are arranged, It goes into the 'behind-the-scenes' talks that happen between families even before a wedding is finalized, But the pace of the narrative seems to slacken at some places and rush at other points where it shouldn't. 

The sequel, The Many Conditions of Love, is more interesting than The Marriage Bureau for Rich People as the narrative is fresh, the dialogues are peppy and the characters are well-crafted. If you had to choose between the two, I would say read the sequel instead. 

There is a scene in the book where Aruna leaves her husband's home because she is insulted by her sister-in-law and her husband makes no attempt to speak for her. Aruna's family try to make her see sense and return to her husband's home but she refuses because she feels insulted by her husband's conduct.

Finally, it is Mrs. Ali who tells her about the malicious gossip in the neighborhood and says, "This is bigger than your hurt feelings, Aruna. Your family's reputation is at stake. Whatever issues you have are not going to be resolved by running away from them. Go and fight for your rights. Solve your problems from within."

Among many such memorable conversations in The Many Conditions of Love, this is my favorite:

"How long does it take for a broken heart to heal?" he asked.

She replied"The sadness will always be there. But your heart will mend and happiness can find a home in it sooner than you realize."


Vishnu said…
I read this book some time back Swapa and really enjoyed it. You've done justice to the book with this review and reminded me of the unique characters and story line of the book. I had not realized there was a sequel and your suggestion here has encouraged me to pick up the second book. I think these stories help us analyze, challenge and examine our biases, prejudices and beliefs about love and marriage.
Good to hear you enjoyed the book, Vishnu. The sequel is definitely one to read, so do read it. Like you said, these stories help us to examine our biases, prejudices and beliefs about love and marriage.
sanandaa hall said…
Useful article for wedding and reception events this post is very helpful for the events people.
Shilpa Garg said…
Sounds like a lovely read! I liked the quote about the time it takes for a broken heart to heal.So true!!
Dear Shilpa, It's a lovely book to read. Discovered that its a trilogy. The 3rd part in this series is called The Weddingwallah. I liked the first two books more though.
Thanks for the article...
Subhamastu is a growing kamma matrimony website, matrimony service exclusive for kamma's around the world. Search kamma brides, kamma grooms and kamma community matching profiles for your life partner here.

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered the possibility that my thoughts and my personal journey would receive such online abuse or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience and not to insult others. My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to shout that as being insulting to your experience because our journeys are entirely different narratives. 

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.The intention of my article is to question - why are we even exchanging insults over an issue called caste? 

Should we not be aspiring to be above caste considerations instead of abusing each other …

What is dark night of the soul, how long does it last and why it happens? Three great Masters share powerful tips!

Just as writers go through a phase known as 'writer's block', spiritual seekers pass through a much dreaded phase called 'Dark night of the soul.' Know what the 'Perfect Masters' say.  [READ: Feeling depressed and low? Guy at Costa Coffee shares amazing lesson]


Speaking to Ruzbeh N. Bharucha on this, Dada Vaswani, ''Everyone has to go through it. It is like being stripped naked. There were Spanish mystics such as St. John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, Raymond and others who described it as 'dark night of the soul' and even in Christian literature, there is a chapter titled 'The Cloud of Unknowing'.'' This phase is known to visit even the best and most perfect 'Masters' before they achieve a state of ''illumination.''

So, what exactly does a seeker feel and experience during this scary sounding phase called 'Dark night of the Soul'?

[READ: Who is Meher Baba? The Ira…

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

Mahadmrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra nee

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Do read my post: Does Mahamrityunajaya mantra really work?Of course, it does but you need to undertstand the meaning and significance of the mantra first.
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. [ Do READ: THE POWER OF LOVE]
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he becam…

Feeling depressed and low? This guy at Costa Coffee taught me something invaluable about being at peace!

At Costa Coffee outlet at DLF Mall in  Noida today, I hovered blankly over an iced latte. I wasn't in my best mood. You know how it is, there are days when one feels disappointed and let down by the self and withdraw into an inner shell.  [READ: Does sincerity have any value?]


And so it happens that the server at Costa Coffee who brought to our table what we had ordered is a smiling young man. He has a big, happy smile on his face.
We looked up. He was conveying something with his fingers to my son, who had his headphones switched on and was listening to music. I looked up and understood then that the young man was deaf and unable to speak, which is why he was using sign language to communicate.
This is what I think he communicated to my son, ''Enjoy your sandwich.You have a good smile and a good day.  Thank you for coming today, happy to serve you."
My son was also gesturing back to him with a bright smile and conveying thank you. [READ: Chil…

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! 


Earth Angels have amazing superpowers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions and  becoming invisible at will.
[MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:

You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in …

Sage Tiruvalluvar's golden advice on how friendship affects your life

Ruzbeh N Bharucha's latest book, ICE with Very Unusual Spirits, is a book that I have absolutely enjoyed reading. While reading every chapter, I began to contemplate a lot on the friendships in my life, as the book blends in some of the most valuable teachings of Sage Tiruvalluvar and Sai Baba of Shirdi. The essence of the book revolves around true friendship and how it can make us not just more human but it can make us divine beings too.

As human beings, we thrive on friendship. These days, I've started wondering, ''Is there real friendship out there?'' From experiences that span four decades now (yeah, I am that old!), I am beginning to wonder about the authenticity of most ''friendships.'' [Do read: How to Console a Friend who Lost her Spouse]

A friend whom we knew since childhood days invites us home for dinner but when we visit, we don't get served dinner, but popcorn. Our mistake? We arrived in an auto, instead of a taxi (it is a differe…

Why love matters - Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh has an amazing insight to share!

What is love? It means different things to different people. 

Have you thought about it? Do read: POWER OF LOVE

When a mother loves her child, have you noticed that the mother's love doesn't change with time or place or even when a child does not reciprocate it? 

Perhaps there is none of the ''my happiness', 'my priority', 'my desires' sort of mentality in the relationship. There is an element of being desireless, in the sense, that the mother wants no material or physical gain from the relationship. The mother may have big dreams of her child becoming X,Y and Z but not necessarily to materially benefit from this. Being itself is enough. 'Being a Mother' is tinged with a sense of happiness despite all the daily struggles and challenges that it brings.

Typically a mother is so engrossed and involved in raising her child, without a sense of a separation of the Self. In a sense, everything else ceases to matter. That kind of love doesn't change…

Gayatri Mantra as Panchamukhi: Get it right or let it go

Most people do not understand the importance of chanting the Gayatri mantra because they are not aware of its power. It is only when I began to read Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings that I learned how sacred and powerful the chanting of the Gayatri mantra is.
The Vedas represent the breath of God. The Gayatri mantra is the very basis of the Vedas. Try not to undertake chanting the Gayatri mantra as a light endeavor or as a hobby. It has to be chanted with faith, discipline and purity of mind and body. Be steady with your sadhana if you want to reap the spiritual dividend associated with the Gayatri mantra  and never once hesitate once you decide to do it.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that the Gayatri Mantra is referred to as Pancha Mukhi, the Goddess with five faces that represent the five pranas or life forces. Here's more on it.

Chant the Gayatri Mantra correctly: Pause Five Times Here are some important things to keep in mind while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

1. Wh…

Parenting together with love and limits: 7 Time Management Tips to Manage a Super Busy Family Schedule

Last Friday, it was Holi, the festival of colours. Guess what I wanted to do? Sleep!  [MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter he loves]
I know what you are thinking, ''What kind of mother wants sleep on Holi?" 
I do. Yup! But what happened is the opposite. That's life, isn't it?
[READ: Why Parenting is Important to Child Development]

During Holi, I was busy cooking, washing the dishes, moping the floor that had messy footprints.  Yup, welcome to the Working Mom's home life on a 'Holi' day:)
Now I have put together a few things which helps me to stay focused:
1. Start the morning with something that perks you up
Anything that lifts your  dormant energy (remember, you woke up from sleep, right?) can work to get your morning rocking. What perks me up is the view from my balcony while I make tea.While the tea leaves boil, the view keeps me grounded and calm as I prepare my mind for a busy day. I see the sky light up slowly, the…

Why salad is good and healthy for you - 3 life-changing reasons to park more vegetables on your plate

Nowadays, I love making salads, not just because they are easy and fun to eat but I also enjoy playing around with different textures, colours and flavours. I don't follow any recipes when it comes to salads - I just love to experiment. Sometimes, the salad comes out really colourful and yummy, on bad days, it can turn out not so great. Here's one that came out so delicious that I can't wait to make it again!

If you are wondering what the health reasons are for eating salad, there are plenty, but I am going to share the ones that matter to me. 1. Salads are packed with fibre The good thing about salads is that they are packed with fibre, which is known to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Plus, it enables your system to eliminate toxins faster.
2. Salads are nutrient-rich The reason why salads are a must-have in our daily diet is because you can pack in the best nutrient-rich veggies on to your plate at one go. Having more greens in your daily…