In my three decades of existence, I promise I have never had bad dates. I have never experienced the awkward trepidation of ‘test driving’ a liaison, to see if it merits a relationship. There is a caveat to this of course. The total, whole, entire, grand sum of all the men I have dated is, hold your breath, two. And, among the peers in my country, this number might just be on the higher side. The average is probably closer to one. Before you pity the hell out of our sad, lonely lives, let me tell you the truth about our mating ritual. It does make for fairy tale reading. Hope you enjoy it.
The Lost Art of (Not So) Secret Admiration
People born between the mid ’70s and the late ’80s in India had a peculiar childhood. We were caught between modernity and tradition, hi-tech and low-tech. We had the gumption of the generations to come, and yet the reticence of the previous generations, in matters of the heart. The societal taboo against men and women ‘being friends’ was slowly dissolving at the time. So, we crushed. Left, right, and center. Even today, we snigger at how much, how often, and how mindlessly, we were always in ‘love’.
The ritual of crushing did not involve Tinder, messaging, or even talking. We were jinxed to be dumbfounded in front of our crushes, for eternity. There was some creepy stalking involved. That usually meant standing in the balcony, in hopes of seeing the person cross the street, or going to a social gathering, only when the other person was certain to be there.
Of course, friends on either side made certain that the feelings were more than apparent. The amount of nudges, smirks, and high-pitched conversations were inversely proportional to the physical distance of the person of interest. Even when it was clear as daylight that there was equal interest on both sides, more often than not, there would be no further communication on the topic. RIP, one trillion crush stories!
Anatomy of our Dates
Only the boldest, among us, would risk putting themselves out there. There was an accepted protocol for doing this. An anonymous letter would serve the purpose of an ice-breaker, in hopes that the recipient would magically identify the author, thanks to the ‘connection’. Just a smile, in acceptance, would be perceived as a commitment for a lifetime. As silly as it may sound, we even crushed for life!
The ‘what’ of our dates was equally interesting. We usually didn’t have enough money to ‘dine out’. Even catching a movie together was rare, and was reserved for the third or the fourth date. The first one was very lackluster, involving not much more than standing/sitting next to each other. My first few dates, for example, were in a bus stand, in the library, and outside the stationery shop, in that order.
And, yet, they were amazing..
So, this is the paradox. When, and if, we did finally manage a date, we were already determined to like the person concerned. We were already deeply committed. So, whether we ended up drinking tea at a roadside stall, or simply walking on the road together for a mile – we always had absolutely wonderful dates. In those few minutes, that would be broken by days of absence, it did not matter whether the person was dressed well, bore acceptable gifts, or behaved perfectly. The rarity of the togetherness made it precious beyond reason.
Today, my dates (with the husband) are an escape from the mundane. A chance to leave the chores behind, and pretend to be young again, to be irresponsible, and get drunk! They are, therefore, predestined to be incredible.
I rest my case, thus. Despite our obvious lack of choice and variety, Indian Gen Xers have always had wonderful dates. Small mercies!
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