Column: The key to a happy marriage: hiring a private detective

When youngsters ask me for career advice, I tell them to drop whatever they’re doing and become Detective
private detectives. They’d never run out of clients, especially if they specialize in marriage-related investigations (MRIs).

While the other kind of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) helps you find out what’s wrong with your body, this kind of MRI helps you find out what’s wrong with your spouse.

It’s increasingly common, in America and other western countries, for married people to hire private detectives to find out if their spouses are being unfaithful.

Detective: “Yes, Mrs. Spitzer, your husband is definitely cheating on you. I got word that he had booked a room at the Ritz-Carlton, so I rushed over there and, 15 minutes later, an attractive young blonde walked out wearing high heels, fishnet stockings and an inviting smile.”

Mrs. Spitzer: “What about my husband? When did he leave?”

Detective: “I’m not sure. I went with the blonde into another room. I had to dust her for fingerprints.”

In India, people are, seemingly, a little smarter. They hire the private detective BEFORE the wedding. Pre-wedding investigations are so common these days that a man isn’t considered an eligible bachelor unless he has several detectives following him around.

Private detectives are usually hired to verify claims made by a prospective bride or groom or their parents. These claims often appear in matrimonial ads, which are sometimes so full of lies and exaggerations, they sound like political speeches. “If you choose me, your life will improve dramatically. Trust me, I am the best man for the job. I will be ready on Day One to satisfy you. I’ll balance our budget (I have an MBA from Wharton), I’ll improve our
healthcare (I have an MD from Harvard) and I’ll protect us from
anyone who might try to harm us (I have a black belt from Lee’s Gym). Forget about the other guys. They aren’t as qualified as I am — and they have too much experience. I’ve never even looked at a woman. I’ve been saving myself for you, waiting for you to walk into my life. I’m ready to sweep you off your feet. I’ll entrance you like Hrithik Roshan, romance you like Shahrukh Khan, finance you like Mukesh Ambani.”

The private detective, of course, tries to uncover any deception. For example:

— A man claims that he has “never touched a single shot of alcohol in his life.” The detective discovers that the man always orders double shots.

— A woman claims that she “completed her higher education in the UK.” The detective discovers that UK stands for University of Kerala.

— A man claims that he is “earning a six-figure salary monthly.” The detective discovers that two of those figures come after the decimal point.

—A woman claims that she has “a very close relationship with God and
I love him dearly.” The detective discovers that “God” is short for
Godfrey (her boyfriend).

—A man claims that he is a “veterinarian who happens to be a
non-vegetarian.” The detective discovers that the man is actually a vegetarian who happens to be a non-veterinarian.

—A woman claims that her father “was once a very successful golf professional.” The detective discovers that her father was once a very successful Gulf professional — he worked in Dubai.

I don’t want to give you the impression that everyone who writes a matrimonial ad tries to be deceptive. Most of them don’t have to try. It just comes naturally. They know which qualities people are seeking and they want to offer those qualities. Women, for example, want to satisfy men who are obsessed with the word “beauty,” men who write ads that say: “I am looking for a bride who has outer beauty, as well as exterior beauty.”

And men, likewise, want to satisfy women who are obsessed with the word “handsome,” women who write ads that say: “I am looking for a man who has a good job and is earning a very handsome salary.”

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Phew! Gotta be careful about all acronyms thrown at me from now on. Univ of Kerala… good one!

  2. Another one used quite frequently in Mumbai on fabrics & bags – Made in USA – Ullasnagar Sindhi Association

  3. Jeannine Stacy says:

    Hmmm, sounds just like the singles dating sites here in America!!

  4. One of the girls who studied with me back in India had a set of “requirements” for her would-be in a matrimonial site. One of my friend promptly forwarded it to our group. It went on something like this – “The guy must make a minimum of Rs. 50,000 / month….”. This was a few years ago…may be now the amounts change. If you google, you can find a lot of funny Indian matrimonial ads.

  5. This is the funniest column you wrote in the last month!

  6. v ravichandran says:

    good and enjoyable

  7. looool!!! this is brilliant! got me splitting my sides!

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