Month: February 2020

Love, Courtship, Dating, Tinder and more…

Love! The endearing emotion that survived centuries and generations. Once upon a time, men lost their kingdoms for love, forfeited their crown to be with the woman they loved. Battles were fought, cities were burnt down, lovers buried alive, yet love emerged triumphant! We embraced love, wooed our beloved, courted love, sometimes even knowing that it was doomed. So many beautiful poems and pieces of literature revolve around love and unrequited love.

As we move into the great 2020s, we continue to love and lose, we continue to woo. A lot however has changed with technology, with the world moving digital. Be it love or dating (modern equivalent to courtship), it has moved online. Instead of kingdoms and battles, young people often lose money to online frauds preying on love or loneliness of the generation now. First there were matrimonial sites, then came the dating apps which are now often referred to as ‘hook-up apps’. Technology is adding a new edge to these apps every day. So has love seized to exist, maybe it has in the way we once imagined it to be…?

I have once used these apps myself and was fortunate enough to meet somebody wonderful. But a lot has changed since then I am told. Stories of online dating that I hear about from my younger colleagues piqued my curiosity. 

I am talking to my 20-year-old colleague Riti Chakraborty on her experiences and views on love and dating.

  1. Why online? Don’t you meet young people offline?

It is not about being online. I like meeting new people in whichever way possible. Online dating sites streamline the whole process of meeting since I don’t go out often and socialise with other people, I don’t have the time.

  • Which are the popular dating apps now?

There are a lot of them. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Happn, OK cupid and the list goes on. My personal favourite is Hinge. Since it involves an extensive process of putting down prompts to simplify meeting new people, there is a lot of information available and it becomes easier to figure out various conversation starters.

  • Tell me about your experiences

I have had mixed experiences. I had not started online dating till a year back. In the beginning I had a hard time letting myself go and meet random, new people. However, some of the guys I had talked to, have remained friends till date. It got easier with time and I personally feel it has added to my self-confidence. Meeting new people, getting to know them has had an effect on me as a person and I feel I can talk easily to new people now.

  • I have heard about phrases like cat fishing and ghosting frequent associated with online dating. What do they really mean? Have you ever had such experience?

Online dating comes with its own set of random experiences. I have been ghosted, catfished, I have stood up boys, there is a lot to talk about. The one time I was catfished, I was supposed to meet a really cute guy and imagine my horror when a random person who looks vaguely like the boy I had been talking to, showed up! He couldn’t even speak proper English and was showing off his BMW for no reason. I stayed on for the first 15 minutes and had to put my perfectly healthy mother in the hospital (virtually) in front of him in order to get out of this debacle! It was a horrible end to my weekend.

  • Do you think it’s possible to find someone you want to be with through these sites?

I think anything can happen. People change all the time. I feel it is possible to meet someone I would want to be with through online dating. My last relationship started out on Instagram, so I can’t complain!

  • Sometimes online dating/chatting/sexting continue for months online. People are not interested in connecting offline. Why does that happen?

I honestly don’t know. It could be a number of things. Maybe they are insecure, or maybe they don’t want a physical relationship. It sounds absurd but many relationships also thrive virtually! I am not one of them, but I feel people who are not keen on meeting up physically just want someone to be there for them emotionally or mentally, and that’s the extent of their virtual relationship.

  • Your views on love and relationship.

I think the moment you declare ‘I have stopped looking for Love, I have stopped believing in Love, I do not want to be with anyone for a prolonged period of time’, love finds you. I have heard the same story from a number of my friends. The moment they stopped looking for love, they found someone worthwhile. On the other hand, relationships have become extremely flexible. There are polyamorous people who have multiple relationships at the same time, there are open relationships, there is the old school relationship, there are virtual relationships, relationships with 3 people at the same time, and so on and so forth. I think people just want their peace of mind, be it with one person or a few. The saying that ‘you cannot love 2 people at the same time’ is rapidly changing. My generation is more self-aware, more confident about themselves at the same time extremely dependent on other people. My own beliefs have changed over time, from being a one-man woman, to only wanting to date exclusively, to only talking and having fun with random people, I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I have not pinned my hopes down for a fairy-tale anymore.

  • Any advice, or word of caution for people seeking to date online

One should be extremely cautious of the people they talk to. Do as much background research as possible and check all their social media info. It becomes easy to spot catfishers and fake accounts once you get the hang of it. They have a certain way of talking, certain pictures etc that can be spotted with a little attention to detail. Online dating is fun and all but it can be a bit dangerous too. So a little caution and safety nets should always be at hand.

Love: Kal, Aaj aur Kal

Love is probably one of the most complex and endearing emotions! Love has been driving us since time immemorial. What haven’t we done for love? We have been silly, we have been brave, we have embarrassed ourselves, we have been petty, we have been generous, we have given it our all. No matter how badly we break our hearts, no matter how badly it hurts we manage to pick ourselves up. For, it is great to be in love, even if the subject of our love may not love us back with as much ardour. 

Falling in love! The first sight, the touch, the melody or that sound that stirs our emotion. When Romeo set eyes on Juliet or Ranjha on Heer, great love stories were made. Radha was drawn by the melody of Krishna’s flute. One image that made quite an impression on me is that of a young horse rider on a tempestuous night who seeks refuge in an old temple, encounters a beautiful maiden Tilottama there and loses his heart to her. This has been beautifully portrayed in the opening chapter of Durgeshnandini, an acclaimed Bengali historical romance by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. While reading the novel as a teenager I wanted to be Tillomatta, to be loved and won over by the protagonist Jagat Singh.

The trepidation of falling in love has been so lyrically depicted by Rabindranath Tagore:

With the slightest touch and a few words / I sense the spring in my heart.

The addiction of Palash and Champa/ Leaves me reeling with the colors and tune of the spring.

Whatever comes close to my mind intermittently/ Paints the corners of it with dreams.

Swells the tune of anxiety whenever they drift far away/ I am left reeling all day with their sweet sounds like anklet rings.

From old temples and gardens, love moved to college campuses. In fifties and sixties, co-ed colleges helped cupid in scripting many a tales of love. The love stories then often started in a formal note as boys and girls rarely interacted with each other in those days. “During our college days girls would enter the class with the professor and would leave as soon as the professor walked out. We would address them as Miss,” recounts my dad. Yet so many of his friends married their college sweethearts.

Soon the magic of love melted away the formality and the stiffness. Love blossomed in college campuses and canteens. Office romance flourished. In college I would love to hang out in the canteen over coffee and samosas to be with the boy I fancied or just witness other love stories around me. Hanging out in the library together, walking hand in hand under starlit sky are some memories I will cherish forever. Though it’s those moments that matter now, the person seems to have faded in the background.

The bittersweet pangs of love! The wait for a letter or one brief phone call. Long distance calls were expensive then and telephone was kept in the drawing room ensuring that there was no privacy. Though the digital age away did away with letters and brought people closer in one sense, the pangs of love remain, or seem to have become more complicated.

Love sauntered from colleges to high schools, wandered around theatres, clubs and pubs, sometimes surprised us in lifts or corridors. One fine day, love decided to take the digital route. From college canteen and office parties dating moved online. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and the rest brought the world to love’s feet. You could fall in love with anyone now, sitting in any corner of the world. Love letters gave way to chatting apps. At one time there were occasional tales of pen pals falling in love. Now there are so many tales of online love, many ending in heart breaks. Paradoxically enough, the digital world that brough us closer has also driven us apart. The endless chats and smart emojis come at the cost of real conversation. The digital persona often masks the real person creating a split.