Editor's note: So you’ve swiped right, exchanged numbers and got yourself a date on Tinder. What next? This is a 10-part series on the dating landscape among the young-ish and single-ish of India. Part IV is about the kind of dates you hope you won't meet even in your nightmares!
T-1 meets me at 8:30 pm at a restaurant.
“Would you like coffee?” he asks.
“It’s a bit late for that.”
“What should we order then?”
“It’s too early for dinner.”
“It’s 8:30. That’s usually when most people have dinner.”
“Well, I eat dinner at nine.”
I tentatively order a salad. I don’t count salad as dinner, but at least it’ll keep my hunger at bay.
“I’ll have one too!” T-1 says. “Even though it’s NOT dinnertime.”
He looks at me pointedly.
I growl at him under my breath.
When my garden salad arrives, looking sparse next to his chicken caesar salad, he complains. “Yours has more olives than mine.”
I put an olive on his plate. He keeps staring at my salad.
I put one more olive, two more. He keeps staring. I put all my olives on his plate.
My salad now has a few pitiful leaves left.
He doesn’t offer me anything from his now big salad.
“I’ll wait till nine to eat,” he says and looks at my almost empty plate. “You hogged yours down, eh?”
“I was hungry … it is dinner time.”
Fifty seconds left, he grins.
I sit there staring at his mouth, chewing and yakking. It takes him an hour to finish his salad. I’m still starving. When the bill comes he asks for my half.
“Next time,” he says large-heartedly, “I’ll take you out for dinner.”
T-2 picks me up for our first date in an Uber. I get in the back of the cab. He keeps sitting in the front.
“Would you like to sit behind?” I ask hesitatingly.
“No, babes!” BABES? I met him five seconds ago! “I’m tall so I can’t sit in the back of a car with passengers.”
T-2 is barely 5'7".
We reach a restaurant and sit at our table. T-2 starts shouting at our waiter.
“Unbelievable! How can you not have ?” He holds up a spoon in which I can see my mortified expression. “And your cutlery is not properly washed. Call your manager. Now!”
We’ve been here a minute, and the whole restaurant is looking at us.
“You know that waiters spit in your food if you’re rude to them, right?” I tell him.
“Chill, babes. I’m from the hotel industry. I know how it works.”
He starts typing furiously into his phone. I wait. Maybe it’s an important message. Thirty seconds pass. A minute. Two minutes. Four minutes. He keeps typing.
“Is the message urgent?” I snap.
“No, babes. One of my friends is asking wassup! Hold on …”
T-2 actually dials his friend’s number and starts having an inane conversation with him.
I quip, “Don’t you think it’s rude to be on the phone when I’m sitting here?”
“Babes, I’m like this only. You want me to pretend to be something else?”
Yes, a normal human being would be great for now, I think. I don’t want to fight with someone on the first date, so I keep my tongue in place.
The waiter is back and I order a chicken burger.
“She’ll have a chicken salad instead,” T-2 interrupts.
“Excuse me?” I turn to him and ask.
“Babes, you should never have carbs in the night. Especially since you’re trying to lose five kilos.”
“I’m not trying to lose five kilos.”
“Really? If you want to be seen with me then you should lose five kilos.”
Obviously, I lose the guy — he’s the unwanted weight — and take an Uber, with its ample leg space, back home.
T-3 begins the date by telling me that he wants to be completely honest with me.
“I donated sperm to a friend of mine, whose biological clock was ticking. I have a child with her.”
“It didn’t stop there. She wanted a second child so I donated my sperm again.”
I wish he’d let me order a drink before revealing this unsolicited personal information.
“And, because I’m so generous, I send them money every month.”
“So,” I have to ask, “you have two children with a woman and you pay for their upkeep. Isn’t that called marriage?”
“No, no! I didn’t want to marry her. We had the chemistry of a khakra.”
“Are you sure? Because I’m not interested in married men.”
He shows me the photo of a grey-eyed woman on his phone. “I swear on the mother of my children that I’m not married.”
The next week I bump into T-3 at a friend’s party. He’s with his grey-eyed “friend” and pretends not to recognise me.
My friend — oblivious to our background — introduces us, “This is T-3 and his beautiful wife.”
“Would you like some khakra with your lies?” I ask this married man.
T-4 is the perfect date. He picks me up, compliments me, takes me to a nice restaurant, pulls out the chair, listens and responds, picks up the tab, drops me back home, and for a second I almost start believing that love can be found on Tinder.
At two that morning, when I’m fast asleep, my phone rings. It’s T-4. All ok, I ask. “Yeah,” he whispers. “I can’t stop thinking about you.” I hang up. My phone rings again at 4 am. I see his number and don’t pick up. I get a message alert. Missing you. I shudder in my sleep and put my phone on silent. In the morning when I wake up I have 43 missed calls and 14 messages from T-4.
Oh, Mr Darcy, when will Tinder find you?
I meet T-5 for dinner during which he tells me that his mother doesn’t love him, his sister doesn’t love him and the only two people who did love him — his ex-wife and father — left him, one via divorce and the other via death. I nod sympathetically. T-5 goes to America for a conference and calls me everyday, though we’ve met only once. Later that week, I get another call. It’s him. He’s in his hotel room, he says, and someone is with him. Whom, I ask. My father, he whispers. Hasn’t he—ehm—passed away? Yes, the whisper continues, but he never leaves my side.
Now I’m spooked. I look around in case his father’s ghost is next to me.
He calls after a few days. I bought you a gift, he says. I don’t accept gifts from people I don’t know, I reply. But you know me, he replies. I told you about my father. I don’t know what to say. The next day, and for a few days more, he messages everyday that he can’t wait for me to see the gift. So now, the gift that I didn’t ask for, didn’t want, is beginning to take on epic proportions.
When he returns, we meet for dinner. He gives me the gift. I open the box tentatively. Judging by the excited look on T-5’s face and the build-up over the last few days, I’m half expecting the Kohinoor. Indeed, the gift leaves me stunned. For it’s a plaque that says, "You’re like sunshine." This thrifty high-school gift is what this 40-plus-old man advertised as something priceless. Well, I shrug, it’s the sentiment that counts. We meet a couple of times more and I tell him that he is likely suffering from depression and needs a psychiatrist, not me. Fine, he huffs and puffs. The next morning he calls me up and says, “The first thing I woke up and thought of this morning is that I want my gift back!” I pack the 10-dollar plaque into a box and send it away, along with the hopes of ever finding a man.
Next week:The Big Picture — when the Tinder date does not match the photo!
Published Date: May 22, 2016 08:20 am | Updated Date: May 22, 2016 08:20 am