Calling All Wedding Detectives

Via Manish’s News Tab, here’s an article about Indian detectives who research potential spouses on matrimonial sites in the Washington Post. The best example in the article of a wedding detective’s intervention is probably the first one:

Judging by his online profile, the groom was suitable and eager to be a good spouse: a quiet, stay-at-home kind of guy who never drank and worked as a successful software engineer. Perfect, thought the bride, a shy 27-year-old computer engineer.

Too perfect, according to Bhavna Paliwal, one of India’s wedding detectives, who are being hired here in growing numbers to ferret out the truth about prospective mates.

“These days, you need to check the facts. And in India, it’s the servants who will tell you 100 percent everything,” Paliwal, 32, said in her office, located in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood of New Delhi. “The key is talking up the drivers, the cooks and the housekeepers. They are busybodies and aren’t afraid to tell you.”

In the case of the computer engineer, Paliwal found out that the 29-year-old groom-to-be had been less than honest. He had been having an affair with his housemaid. He spent many of his “quiet” nights straddling barstools around town, drinking heavily. There were signs he could be prone to violence, having been in an altercation that left him with a knife wound on his stomach.

As far as Paliwal was concerned, he was busted. The marriage was called off. (link)

(Oh, snap!)

Interestingly, it’s women detectives who are better at this work than male counterparts. According to this article at least, it’s women who are better able to get the scoop out of servants and doormen.

Reading articles like this makes me think that the internet matrimonial system is really quite flawed. It’s a cross between the old arranged marriage system and an internet personals ad on Craigslist. In the old system, one’s parents would do much of the work because they “know better”; they know people who know people, who might be able to speak for a seemingly suitable suitor… In the new internet matrimonials universe, family networks that build trust are of little relevance, and this becomes especially dangerous when people are trying to find partners in distant countries. It pretty much comes down to the “biodata” people post on the internet (perhaps matrimonials sites should start incorporating some of the elements of social networking, which might be another way to build up a sense of trust?). In short, internet matrimonials are an uneasy hybrid of old and new social forms, which potentially preserve some of the bad parts of the arranged marriage system (i.e., fetishization of caste), without giving potential couples any of the benefits of the western system of dating, where one make a strong effort to get to know one’s potential partner.

Still, if this wedding detective thing is here to stay, people in India will definitely be looking for people who can do the same work in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. (Entrepreneurs, take note!)

62 thoughts on “Calling All Wedding Detectives

  1. 45 · Floridian said

    Quoted in Amardeep’s post: ” He spent many of his “quiet” nights straddling barstools around town, drinking heavily.” Caste no bar?

    Floridian religion no bar :) Fascination for Bar & Bar-maid was in vogue even in those days in Desh. Something like these songs which I have heard quite often in my home :)

  2. “I’m not disagreeing with anything you’re saying JJ, but it is a bit chilling to hear you so obviously channel the “Malthusian trap” type of argument (particularly in the assumption that the maid has “no choice”–i.e., finding alternative employment is quite difficult)–I take that as some evidence that the Malthusian trap is perhaps not as over-hyped as I might have thought.”

    I’d wager that a good part of India’s population are living on day to day wages…. U don’t work today, u don’t eat today…. India simply has too many mouths to feed and too few good jobs to go around…. So people on the lower end of the economic ladder gotta do what they gotta do to get by…. Honestly, life in India is real difficult if you are poor….. Heck even in america there are girls and boys that take up prostitution just to put food in their mouths…. This happens everywhere in the world….

    I don’t blame people that have no choice for doing what it takes to survive. My problem is with people that abuse their wealth and privilege to exploit those below them in the society….

  3. 36 · portmanteau said

    Rahul, please be sending me a link to your shaadi.com profile. after consulting astrologer, my family can be calling your family.

    portmanteau, why to be paying rupees to shaadi.com yaar? i am looking for vgl woman for nsa encounters, caste no bar, age no bar, sex bar bar. have i peaked your interest yet? (yes, that is what the kids are calling it these days).

  4. I’d wager that a good part of India’s population are living on day to day wages…. U don’t work today, u don’t eat today….

    thank you. ‘India is Shining’ but this reality must not be forgotten. Hunger is an ever present reality for many.

  5. 54 · Rahul said

    have i peaked your interest yet?

    uh, there is jagran in my salwar, and you’re invited :P

    i am looking for vgl woman for nsa encounters

    nsa? vot nsa you are saying about? an entanglement with a hindu girl lasts for seven lives.

  6. Portmanteau, EXCELLENT impression of annoying young wannabe desi brides ;) Particularly the “perfect blend of east and west values.”

    Accidental Enlightenment said: “I wonder if a minor side effect of all this sleuthing could be recognitino of the Western-style behavior young people engage in… meaning drinking, partying, illicit relations”

    Could be, but I’m guessing that the folks who drink and party and have illicit relations on a regular basis are less likely to use detective services or send out matrimonial feelers to people who are clearly from a more conservative background. I think a partying youngster would recognize another partying youngster. It’s just the ones who are under family pressure to be goody-goodies, or who have double standards themselves (drinking, partying, but asking mummy-daddy to look for a nice virginal convented bride)who get caught up in these messes.

  7. Any opinions on e-harmony.com? I love their commercials and even thought of checking it out only for FYI purposes, of course, but I think one’s keystrokes can be traced, can’t it? And Auntie-ji can get a little suspicious at times.

    Fellow Floridian, maybe you’re safer reading about what kind of testing is used to make matches on sites like eharmony and chemistry dot com. Here’s an O article on relationship personality types and the test, it’s by anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher- she’s involved with the chemistry dating service. Hopefully Auntie-ji won’t mind your reading Oprah articles ; ). She may find it interesting too.

  8. Absolutely true. Why did the tell they use maids. Now no maids are going to any info to these people

    Good point, but unless they’re getting handsomly paid for it.

  9. with all of these social networking sites past and present, it’s pretty easy to find out a little dirt behind marriage potentials. who needs a detective when you have google and myspace/friendster/fbook/etc? usually a guy or girl has signed up for at least one of these accounts even if their account is outdated. and if they’re not on any site – well, an internet junkie like me probably wouldnt get along with them anyway!

  10. 54 · Rahul said

    portmanteau, why to be paying rupees to shaadi.com yaar? i am looking for vgl woman for nsa encounters, caste no bar, age no bar, sex bar bar. have i peaked your interest yet? (yes, that is what the kids are calling it these days).

    Rahul you forgot one more – Language no bar :)