Yesterday morning, I appeared on BBC Asian Network – exciting times – and gave my views on a fairly eyebrow raising topic: marriage detectives. You can listen to the show so click here to hear my velvety voice! (I come in at 37 minutes) with the inspiration coming from this article which you can read here. It was a fascinating yet thought provoking topic which has naturally resulted in a blog post.
The brains behind the Delhi based marriage detective agency is Taralika Lahir, who has worked in the private detective industry for 25 years. Lahiri’s investigations range from anxious parents or would be brides and grooms to run a full background check on their partner to couples who suspect their other half of playing away. Lahiri’s methods involve 24 hour surveillance, recording phone calls, running financial background checks to taking photographs and more, provided that she is able to present physical evidence of her findings to her clients.
I personally feel quite conflicted about marriage detectives: on one hand I think it can be a force for good as it can really avert major disasters that could potentially wreck someone’s life (fraudsters, serial cheats). But I also believe that you should listen to your gut instinct: if you don’t initially trust or feel comfortable around someone then you shouldn’t marry them or be with them – regardless of it being an arranged or a love marriage. In addition, if you can’t be faithful or responsible or mature enough to get married or be in a relationship, don’t get into one and ruin the other person’s life and their family.
As expressed in the radio interview, I find it really sad that people feel the need to resort to using marriage detectives in order to find out about their prospective partner. For me it boils down to trust; without that you can’t be with someone. Many British born Asians joke and complain about “the aunty network” who report back to our parents and families by exaggerating little lies about us (no aunty, I was not smoking, I was eating a lollipop!) – but they come in handy for things like this even though their intentions are questionable, their timing isn’t always right nor is their venue of choice appropriate (mandhirs and gurudwaras).
A marriage detective agency sounds crazy: 24 hour surveillance? Recording phone calls? Having undercover detectives snooping around with a camera in their hands ready to catch you at your worst? I thought it was too until I had a proper think about it: we’re more or less under surveillance for the majority of our lives (CCTV) and I know many couples who admit to going through their other half’s phones, Facebook messages and Whatsapp chats. Isn’t that just a smaller and more personal scale of what Lahiri is doing? And more so: why do we do it?