Not so long ago people knew their relations unto third, fourth and fifth generations. The greatest use of the huge family tree came during marriage. In India, where the marriages are arranged by the relatives, much information about the proposed boy/girl and the family wouldn’t be available on hand. But there might be some distant relation living near by. He would supply the needed information on the past history, wealth, social status etc. Everyone was well networked (without much help from FB, orkut).
In these turbulent times, we are not even aware of who is staying next door, let alone our relations. So the pre-marriage enquiry has come onto a big crisis.
The common practice today is to enquire with the friend’s friend’s friend who studied/worked with the boy/girl. I have come across many predicaments as a result of this.
My good friend was enquiring about a girl he was supposed to get engaged to. She studied with me in college. He wanted to know if she had any secret affairs. The only information available to me was rumors. I have no proof for them. So should I dispense with the rumors?
On another occasion, a friend of mine asked me about a guy who was supposed to marry her friend. She wanted to know if the guy drinks. I had an information that the guy had taken to bottle when some girl dumped him. And if I dispense with my knowledge I might be denying him a new life!