Published in the 5 March, 2015 issue of Femina
An artist, an illustrator and an art teacher, Indu Harikumar tells Arunima Mazumdar how she quit her corporate job to spin tales with and for children.
Published on 28 January, 2015 in Femina
A one-month stint with the free dating app Tinder revealed astonishing things about the attention (read sex) starved Delhi men, finds Arunima Mazumdar.
It all begins with boredom. Not loneliness and most definitely boredom. Only a year had passed since the break-up and I had drowned myself in work all these months to escape the feelings. The intention was to move on and not move in to any other relationship, at least for the next few years. But when Aarti told me about meeting a “really nice guy” on and through Tinder, I started doubting my self-inflicted decision to stay single. I was 28 and it was foolish of me to not make the most of the present. We were at café when she said to me, “You have no idea. This dating app is not like any other. There are real, educated and sensible men out there.” And she was right. Her boyfriend, Ganesh did sound like a great guy. He was an engineer from a reputed Delhi college and ran his own start-up business with two other friends-partners, but what convinced me was the fact that he and Aarti spent more than three hours talking to each other on their very first date. I mean, how cool is that – a dating app that could find you a guy who loved to talk! I was sold without persuasion.
Even though singlehood offered the space I cherished, at times the absence of a partner or companion made its presence felt. And Aarti’s story had filled me with hope. Fortunately, I had no pending assignment for the day and could pay full attention to finding a “really nice guy”. Just like her. I went home, downloaded Tinder on my phone and started flicking. At first, it seemed like a pretty brainless thing to do. Judging guys by their profile pictures and swiping an affirmative right felt silly, so I kept swiping left for everyone, which indicated I wasn’t interested. Then I remembered the best part about the app that Aarti had whispered into my ears: “Only those guys will be able to initiate a conversation with you whom you approve by swiping right.” It took me quite a while to shed my serious side and behave like a typical girl.
Two weeks passed. I had three active chats running in my phone. The first guy was an IT professional; I took him to be a photographer judging by his DSLR-wielding display picture, and it turned out he was in fact planning to quit his job and take up the camera work seriously. The second was a cyclist; he had cycled all the way from Mumbai to Delhi, which I thought was very impressive. Given the unhealthy, unfit lifestyle I lead, I have secretly wished for a friend (or boyfriend) who is a health freak because it is always easier to follow the regime when you have inspiration around. But chats with both prospects waned off because there was absolutely nothing in common to keep the conversation going. The third guy, however, was different.
Abhay was about a year elder to me; he too was a journalist by profession. We covered similar beats, had common acquaintances, and were able to get to know each other easily. Initial conversations revolved around work, the people we’ve worked with, and industry gossip. The chats started to lighten up slowly and we opened up about our likes and dislikes. One whole day was spent discussing beer and the various kinds we’ve tried till date. I was pretty sure things were looking positive – not in an outright boy-friendly way, but a healthy and harmless dating zone. I happened to ask him one day since when he had been using Tinder and if he had any luck yet. His answer took me back to that episode of FRIENDS when Ross had embarrassingly revealed that he hadn’t had sex for 6 months. “I haven’t gotten laid in eight months. I’ve been with 4 girls in these eight months and all of them friend-zoned me”, he wrote to me. I instantly made a mental note to bring that up to tease him about this once (or if ever) we reached that level of comfort conversing.
It had been a little over three weeks when one day while chatting we realised that both of us were in the same part of the city and it would be a crime to not meet, especially after we’d been chatting for quite some time now. His proposal that we meet at a microbrewery over a beer in the evening seemed safe. It wasn’t a date after all; it was casual catching-up. Like friends do.
Abhay was at ease and so was I. Two hours and a pitcher of delicious wheat-beer later, we decided to take a walk. The autumn breeze felt comforting and our conversation had no trace of awkwardness; we had also begun revealing things about our past relationships little by little. It felt right to be honest, whether or not this worked out. As I silently began cursing myself about how wrong I had always been about online dating, I felt Abhay nudge closer to me. Close is fine but this was a little too close. His arm, which was right by his side a second ago, was on my waist and his face was practically touching mine. This was definitely not what I had in mind. I gently pushed him away and made an excuse of not being comfortable about all this in a public space. He looked upset, but I was in no mood to appease him.
I went over our chats after I reached home. I thought about the evening we just spent together. And I recalled the moment when suddenly it felt wrong. Thankfully, I received no text from him after that.
What made Abhay assume that he could get lucky with his fifth find on Tinder? Does drinking beer give the impression that girls come easy? Or was it because I didn’t talk about friend-zoning him, which by the way is a safe-card that many women play?
I can’t blame the app, because after all, Tinder has helped girls find “really nice guys”. For me though, it stays out of my phone and Abhay or anyone like him, stays out of my life.
(*Names have been changed to protect identities)
Published in February 2015 in Femina
Meet Neeti Leekha Chhabra, a young breast cancer survivor who has vowed to save every life she can by spreading awareness about the illness. By Arunima Mazumdar.