Guest Post: Because. Words.

I often hear guys asking for the date’s perspective so I’m always thrilled when one of them volunteers to write about it. Bombay Boy did it, and now here is #22, writing his version, which really made me blush red like a tamatar (incidentally the same day I got an email from a guy on OKC that went: ‘Hi love Hey tamato hw u dng ..’ yes really). I have to say, I often worry about that fact that the guy always knows what’s in my mind and I rarely have any clue to what’s in his, so I am psyched to find out that this time at least we’re on the same page ^_^.

I am a sucker for people who love words, people who think of words as their friends. That’s my tribe: people who love words. Recently I had the good fortune of meeting a fellow member of this fast dwindling tribe. In the first few interactions with the author of this blog (who I’m going to call Aa because I’m going to get tired of typing author of this blog), I knew that we would hit it off.

Because.

Words.

She has succinctly and precisely described the chronology of events, so I’ll skip that bit. In the true style of David Foster (who I idolize), it will be crammed with nonsense, lazy grammar, non-sequiturs and possibly an eerily accurate assessment of the world of online dating (or not). Above all it will be about my two hours with Aa.

I am for all practical purposes the most shameless person when it comes to meeting new people. If I find someone interesting I will ask them out. The way I see it, a cup of coffee is a small price to pay for discovering a new person, even if it’s a new person whose novelty wears off in a second. I have had dates which have felt like going to the dentist. It’s a small price because you could discover a person in whose company you take delight for a long time to come. In pure game theory terms, it’s a no-brainer. The risk of rejection is a small price to pay ultimately. If someone rejects you, big deal, you suck it up and move on.

Except that things are not so streamlined and idyllic in the online dating world. A lack of inhibition is frowned upon. Politeness is a lost art. Women get harangued relentlessly by men whose gonads are threatening mutiny. Men are tormented (at least the intelligent ones I am assuming) by the lack of women in general. It’s a fact of life that any woman on an online dating site will receive more messages than a man. What this excessive attention from men does is scare away most women and eventually only the more courageous remain. The pool of women who are willing to meet in person, let alone date remains infinitesimally small. The pool of men with their lusty, testosterone-laced messages just keeps growing however. From a demographic and sociological viewpoint this is not surprising. India has an adverse sex ratio–all that female foeticide has just come to bite us in the ass.

Sociologically, the reluctance of women to get on online dating websites is self-evident in many ways. Veritably every conversation I have had with a woman online has begun with the “I am not looking for a hookup” disclaimer.  It’s almost mandatory in Tinder bios. Understandable, given the eclectic mix of buffoons most women encounter online. The tragedy here is the petty slut shaming. When a woman says that she is not looking for a hookup or alternatively says that I am not like those women what is she implying? That women who make liberated and conscious sexual choices are somehow lesser beings. I am sadly aware that a majority of interesting women exist offline, far from the prying eyes of ‘hey baby, let’s have some fun’ men with rapey vibes. But I don’t have access. So I resigned myself to scroll through a dead sea of uninteresting profiles on Okc and Tinder.

Which brought me to the date with Aa. But, first, a disclaimer. I am no Adonis; I am not Thor either; in fact I am totally unlike those mythical gods with a six pack stomach. I am a low paid journalist, reasonably self-aware and moderately intelligent. I have a beer belly and an insatiable appetite for marijuana and brutal honesty. I am, as a rule of thumb, politically incorrect. I will sometime say provocative stuff to lure politically correct people into an argument. I treat eviscerating hypocrites as a blood sport. This understandably leads to much acerbic behavior on my part and much conflict in general. In summary I am not an ideal partner by online or offline dating standards. So, if I have conveyed the impression that I am somehow God’s gift to womankind pontificating about the state of affairs of online dating, I assure you that is not my intention. I am not everyone’s cup of tea and that is fine by me.

So, the date.

First up, I came into the date with high expectations. I had read the blog and it would have been disappointing if the homo sapiens crafting those eloquent sentences turned out to be boring in person. Thankfully, she turned out to be much more interesting than I had expected (low expectations is the key to happiness after all). Aa is smart. Freakishly so. And she knows it. Thrown into her mix of character traits are dollops of humor and an appetite for self-effacing candor.

All of these traits are evident in full force when, under a balmy and lazy Sunday sun, we start to stroll in a near empty Sanjay Van. The first thing we talk about is my OCD. I perhaps use that bit of information to throw her off balance and see how she responds. Except that she is not thrown off balance for one second. Her first response was empathy. I admit, this surprises me. When I first mention to dates that I have OCD, I tend to get responses like  ‘oh you are a cleanliness freak, eh?’ or ‘We are all a little bit OCD.’ Which instantly makes me want to punch them. On the nose. But since I abhor violence of any kind I don’t. To most dates I explain OCD by asking whether they have seen Aviator. If their pop culture quotient is high they say yes. I then gently explain that I have the same mental ailment as Howard Hughes but, unlike him, I am not a billionaire who dates movie stars and has an army of man servants to satisfy his every compulsion.  I also add that I am on medication which helps me function. If I think they are being sensitive to the information I am divulging then I talk about my OCD at length. I tell them how I have a mortal fear of sexually transmitted diseases, rats, shaking hands and running over people accidentally, and a perpetual anxiety of being inappropriate amongst other such weird fears and anxieties. I also tell them how I get tormenting intrusive thoughts faster than Flash Gordon is able to run. It usually takes weeks for me to transfer this, possibly because I am not comfortable with them.

With Aa it takes around twelve minutes. That’s how fast a comfort level is established. We discuss polyamory in depth. It’s refreshing, this lack of mutual inhibition while discussing such intimate topics. Every so often my mind drifts off to check whether someone is listening to us. Thankfully, the park is near empty. I take this as a sign from the heavens that this conversation has the blessings of the flying spaghetti monster. We talk further about our respective experiences with mental illness. We talk about everything under the sun. And that’s what we will do. Keep talking. After all, people who love words are my tribe and whenever I encounter one of my kind I will not pass up the opportunity to talk to them. About everything.

Because. Words.

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Guest Post: A Mumbai date with the Delhi Girl

You will remember the delightful special edition date I had in BombayIn casual conversation I’d asked him to write the date up for me, so I could find out what it was like going on a date with me. And he did. 

It was a lovely Tuesday morning and work was busy as ever. And, by busy I mean having to decide whether to log on to Twitter or Facebook first. Twitter won as usual.

I thought of checking out the 50 Dates in Delhi blog since I hadn’t done so in a while. I discovered it in an article in Mint about a month ago. I dismissed it because these blogs seem like attention grabs, so imagine my surprise when this one read so well. The writing was lucid and fun; she didn’t say excessively mean things about the men who agreed to be part of the experiment; all in all, she seemed like someone who was having fun on these dates.

While scrolling through her latest post, I saw something about her visiting Bombay.

This was my chance, I thought. I could get to be in a dating experiment and take one Delhi girl out for lunch/dinner/drinks. But what if Delhi Girl had already visited Bombay? What if she thought 25 year olds are just creepy noobs who like to hit on everything that moves? What is she’s never used the word ‘noob’? DEAR GOD, SHE COULD BE AN AGEIST!

I pulled myself together and decided to send out a test tweet to check if her trip was over already. Thankfully she was yet to visit the city. She told me to email her.

I got her mail address from the blog and officially asked her out. It was fairly straightforward, in the sense that I didn’t wax on about why I was such a nice guy or why our date would be the best thing in the world. I just said that I liked what I read about her on the blog and that I’d be a very happy guy if she agreed to come out. She instantly agreed to come out with me (:D) and we exchanged a few more emails.

Now when I read those mails after over a month, I can’t imagine why she agreed to say yes. Was this the perfect way to approach a woman? I don’t know. Could I have done better? Maybe. But it was very exciting for me that I was meeting with this woman who I had only read about till now.
After a little confusion regarding the venue for the date, we froze in on Saltwater Cafe at Bandra for lunch on Thursday. To be honest, I hadn’t been to this place before and the menu looked overpriced. But trustworthy sources had assured me that the place serves good food and has really good service. So I just went with it.

I was in Bandra for some work in the morning and I had just assumed that I’d be done early. But work had to be a pain in the you-know-what, extending beyond my budgeted time. Around 12:30, I figured I’d probably need to postpone our date by 30 minutes to finish everything that was pending so I could meet Delhi Girl with a free mind.

We exchanged a few texts and I decided that being on time was more important, even if it meant that I’d had to fend calls from the boss while on the date. There I was, at 1pm on the dot. A ten minute delay and about three calls later, she made it to the venue, even as I was trying hard to dial down my enthusiasm.

The first thing I notice is that she is wearing a green dress with a floral print and I realise that I am inexplicably observant of women’s clothing. She walks to the table and I greet her with a hug. It isn’t awkward or half hearted. A real hug, like we’d known each other for a while and had finally gotten a chance at meeting. I am glad about this.

As we settle down, the staff at Saltwater Cafe has already started placing the menu and prepping the table. She notices the bottomless Sangria offer and is quick to ask me if I’d like some too. Now I have always harboured a prominent distaste for sangria. It is just watered down wine with fruit thrown in. A fruit punch at best. But she’s so enthusiastic that, despite my reservations and a pending work day after the date, I agree to go for the bottomless glass.
I am glad to be proven wrong. I take the first sip from my sangria, and I am pleasantly surprised by how delicious it tastes. There is very little fruit and the alcohol is not just plain wine but a nice cocktail (with some vodka, I’m told. I can barely tell the difference.).

Better than the booze though is the conversation. I’m really enjoying talking to her. She discusses the blog, her family, her cat, her flatmate, her incredibly cheap Wi-Fi plan and bad attempts by younger men at asking her out. She is a conversationalist, I can tell. Maybe her line of work and the dates that she has already been on ensure that she’s easy to talk to.

In my recent experiences, the people I’ve been on dates with have been rather difficult to talk to. Maybe great on the phone, but increasingly boring when in person. But this date is fun. I am willingly sharing stories about what happened in college and with previous dates. She is highly amused by the number of women I’ve dated.

I noticed something unusual though. When I talk to her, she is completely cued. She just gets it. Not for a second does she miss a word I am saying. It’s a major turn on. She answers everything confidently and asks me questions to find out more. It makes me feel good about this date and makes me feel like this is someone I would like to go out with again.

The boss calls at least three times over the duration of our date, but I really do not want this to end. Unfortunately, she has somewhere else to be. So I do the sensible thing and drop her to her destination. In the meantime we’ve made a plan to meet in the evening again, even if it means that I have to crash her meeting with a friend.

The time in the evening is far more fun and intimate. Infused with rum and chicken and loud conversation. Loud conversation that is often interrupted by the staff at Janta because we’re disturbing the other patrons. Of course, we respond with even louder discussions about male genitalia and how hands work on them. Cigarettes are lit and some private moments are had.

This was followed by a peaceful 2:30 am-ish walk around the bylanes of Khar and a goodbye kiss that makes me feel things I haven’t felt in a while.