When I got back from the US I was, strangely, very jetlagged. I’m usually good with jetlag, but maybe winter and illness and whatnot. Funnily this didn’t mean I was sleepy in the middle of the day, just that I was waking up at 1 am unfailingly. So I took to entertaining myself with Tinder. Swipe swipe swipe. Kept me going till I was sleepy again. Of course I rarely wrote to the matches and when I did they rarely wrote back. One night (I say this as if there were several heh) I got a message from one of them. His profile was brief but interesting, it cited finance, travel and my Mecca, New York. So I replied and asked him what was going on.
Enjoying the sun
Wishing I was on an island with monkey butlers in tuxedos
We then proceeded to discuss the monkey butlers and the emancipation of the monkey race into slavery for the next fifteen minutes. It was great. Lots of fizz. And so it went fizzing along most of the day, until I got sick of Tinder’s shite messaging and we switched to whatsapp, and by the next morning, to the phone. We talked for nearly and hour and a half while I did my chores, in one of those conversations where no story is every finished because it triggers another, and another and another.
He’s visiting family from Canada, where he lives and will be here for a couple weeks more, so I tell him we can go out when I’m back from Bombay. I send him a link to the blog and tell him to decide if he’s up for it! He says he is and remains on the other end of the phone my whole trip. We talk every day, with as much fizz as the first time, and lots of laughing. There are many whatsapp messages and by the time I’m back we’ve fallen into the this-is-what-I’m-doing-right-now mode of messaging.
On my return we try and figure when it will work and it looks like we’re going to have to wait till Saturday. Which is a pity, and I tell him so. This inspires him to agree to Wednesday lunch near my office, so we decide on that plan.
I’m teased at work all day because I have made an effort and am not in winter uniform of yoga pants and shapeless sweater. When I say I have a date I’m bombarded with questions and I have to tell people to wait for the post! Heh. We’re meeting at Delhi Heights (my first Gurgaon date! Now I can truly call myself 50datesinNCR), and I’m wondering what to eat because I have just begun diet (don’t ask). I get there and I can’t spot him. I try to call but there’s no signal inside, something I’d forgotten. Eventually I ask the ‘maitre d’hotel’ if a guy had come in solo and asked for a table for two. He’s seated in a corner tucked behind the bar which id why I didn’t see him.
He stands up and we side-hug, a titch awkwardly. Sadly, for the promises of bringing his A-game, he’s wearing baggy jeans and a giant sweatshirt. Boo. Phoren-living finance-working exactly-the-right-amount-obnoxious boy and he doesn’t wear a shirt. And me with lipstick and everything!
We sit down and start talking again. I am merciless with him, and take his trip at every thing he says. In my defence, he just makes it SO easy. He’s always dropping the soap in the prison shower; it’s impossible to resist! He’s laughing along with me, but I wonder a little bit if I’m being too harsh–they could be ‘I can’t believe she said that the bitch’ laughs from sheer shock.
We finally get around to ordering, and I tease him for drinking bottled water. These poor NRI types. He wants a burger but can’t eat red meat, so I tease him for being a fake Punjabi. He makes several deliberately obnoxious statements about the place of women in this world, so I hit right back at him and tease him about his clothes. ‘You could at least have worn a shirt,’ I say, shaking my head sadly. ‘Whaaat? I love this sweatshirt. It’s my favourite sweatshirt!’ ‘Look at me; I made an effort!’ ‘This?’ he says, raking me down, ‘this isn’t an effort!’ No wonder I’m teasing him so much. I don’t think I’ve ever been this mean to anyone on a date. I just can’t resist the urge to smack him down. But it’s okay because he is not scared of my intelligence or my confidence and it is an overwhelming relief to be me unadulterated, unfiltered, unaffected.
He shows me pictures of his dogs and his nephew; I reciprocate with ones of my cat and nieces. He tells me how he’s got all these crazy meetings with local businessmen, and one of them earnestly pats his hand and tells him he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t beat women, he lives in Canada with a steady job–he’ll get 2.5 crore dowry if he wants. I dare him to take it and live with the woman he has to marry. He apologises for being unable to focus on what I’m saying–apparently I have ‘an amazing rack’ which is distracting him.
The food comes; mine is superb, his a little strange–it’s an inside out chicken burger. He mocks me for eating potato wedges while on a diet, especially when I chop my burger in half and so I only eat half. I mock him for bring a Punjabi in Knedda. I ask him why he was on Tinder anyway, and he tells me it was random experiment. He asks me about my work and I explain it to him, with attendant whining about how it’s been too stressful of late. In short, our conversation continues to spark and explode, though we do manage to finish half our stories this time.
Lunch over, we wander out to find some coffee. He wants to go to Krispy Kreme and I glare at him sullenly for the suggestion. He suggests Starbucks and I tell him I’m judging him. We go inside, with me bitchslapping him verbally every other minute and him helplessly laughing and calling me mean. The coffee, when it comes, is execrable. I make endless jokes about dropping the soap in the shower, and he makes fun of me for insisting on sitting outside and then wearing gloves. I keep rubbing his back in apology for the horrible things I’m saying and he asks me what is up with that. When I explain he says he’s not a very physical person, and I warn him that I am: I always express emotions physically. Eventually it is really as long a lunch hour as I can take, so I reluctantly get up to leave. We hug goodbye and I thank him snarkily for making an exception to the physical contact rule.
‘I’ll see you Saturday?’ he says.
‘Wear a shirt,’ I shoot back.
(P.S. He doesn’t.)