Meet the Miss Marples in town

Meet the Miss Marples in town

Lady agents

Meet the Miss Marples in town

Private detectives are some of the most admired characters in literary works. Many of us have spent sleepless nights decoding clues in the company of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. But some of us would also remember their female counterparts like Miss Marple and the teenage heartthrob Nancy Drew. And more recently, Lisbeth Salander from the Millenium trilogy. These ladies showed us how to hold your own in a male dominated field. But while they made it look very easy sometimes, in the real world, lady agents have to fight a tough battle.

“There are very few women in this field right now but those who are here, perform extremely well,” says Nidhi Jain, director of Sleuths India Consultancy who also takes on assignments herself. Nidhi quit a safe banking job for the thrill of this profession. “I had a understanding of human psychology and was not averse to a bit of risk.”

Tanya Puri, CEO of Lady Detectives India, is proud of her group of her women investigators, whom she calls her ‘girl squad.’ “They are achieving very difficult targets. Being a woman is helpful in this field because it enables you to fly under the radar. Also, clients find it much easier to discuss their problems with a female than a male.” Even though Tanya’s father, Baldev Puri, was also a detective, this job was not her first choice. “Initially, I ventured into a few media internships only to realise that I wasn't fully tapping my potential. Once I joined him, I found my footing,” she says.

Nikhil, of Lynx Detective agency, concurs with the notion that women are performing much better than men in this field right now. “However, safety of these agents always remains a concern. For example, if they are following a man and he comes to know about this, it could turn out to be dangerous for the female.”

There is also the stigma that is attached to ladies in this profession, which Bollywood helps in propagating in a big way. On the big screen, female investigators almost always have to sing, dance or charm information out of a suspect. This is a script which hasn’t changed over the years and it has managed to annoy the professional investigators pretty thoroughly.

“Nothing could be farther from the truth. We focus on education, which enables one to communicate properly and with conviction, and proper execution,” says Nidhi. “Though there have been times where being a woman has been advantageous for us — for example, when we have to follow a couple to a night club, when we have to chat up female suspects or when we have to enter a girl’s Paying Guest accommodation or hostel and take out details.”

“Most of the cases we get nowadays are for pre-matrimonial or post-matrimonial surveillance of partners. Ladies are preferred agents because they can take the garb of locals (a maid, vegetable seller etc) and complete the investigation effortlessly,” says Tanya.

For JD, a lady agent, who prefers to be known by her code name, it was the thrill and adventure that attracted her to this profession. “We get instant gratification after solving a complex case. Initially, my family was reluctant about letting me go for such a uncertain job. But then recognition came which was followed by monetary rewards. Soon relatives and acquaintances also started approaching me for help and there was no looking back after that.”

While ladies of diverse ages and backgrounds are joining the league of on-field agents, the precautions they have to take remain the same. “Physical and mental agility is important,” says Nidhi. “Self-defence may be needed so fitness is required as well as proper protection gear.”