Valentine's Day: Do dating apps and speed dating dos measure up for singles in Mumbai?

Feb 14, 2017, 10:50 IST | Janaki Viswanathan

As an ode to St Valentine, this 30-something writer tried new-age methods to find the perfect partner — a task she discovered was on par with finding a willing auto-driver on Mumbai's roads

"Valentine's Day is a commercial, cynical enterprise… a matter of supreme indifference to me... " said nobody, not as hilariously as Bridget Jones did.

Even if one did try to be indifferent, the pink-red-fluffiness at malls, mush-flick marathons on the telly, or even a walk-through of the days leading to February 14 (Propose Day, Couples' Day, Kiss Day) by a helpful niece, bring it to mind. What does a single person do in this situation? We decided to give the dating game a go.

Swish and swipe

What: Tinder. Upload a profile picture, and assess men or women, get liked or super-liked. If the likes match, you chat with them; if not, you keep swiping.
Yay: It makes going through a million frogs much simpler and you don't even have to kiss them. People are frank.
Nay: If you have butterfingers, you may miss out on your soulmate because you swiped left by mistake. I spent a tense 15 minutes trying to swipe left to right before realising that the only way to do that is if you pay for a membership! Also, if you have trouble flirting via text, it could be very awkward.
Example: He: Where do you live, it says 52 km away?
Me: Panvel.
He: Wow. How was your day?
Me: Good. Yours?
In a nutshell: I won't lie, swiping felt satisfying. I bumped (virtually) into a couple of interesting folks, too. One match claimed he could 'read' people and then told me I was passionate and patient, impulsive and guarded and so on. It was like reading my horoscope — not of much consequence but still entertaining.

The iAdvantage

What: Hinge Relationship app. You download the app, put up a profile, upload pictures and only meet people bold enough to be looking for a relationship and not casual hook-ups. So far, so clear.
Yay: I have nothing to say here. For reasons, refer below.
Nay: If you don't possess an iPhone, sorry, no Hinge for you. I guess those bold enough to look for relationships are also bold enough to buy Apple! However, the developers at Hinge are working on an Android version, so I've signed up and am hoping for the best.
In a nutshell: I visited the Hinge website to get something started via laptop (alas not Apple again) at least, but failed. Still, the website is active with a blog, video and articles with casual digs about how swiping keeps you single and Hinge is the ultimate relationship app. There's also a regularly updated list of 10 books that can spark off conversations. I couldn't scroll beyond Book 2: The Alchemist.

The 8-minute game
Speed dating event
What: Speed Dating by LOL ( They organise speed-dating events at popular clubs and bars across Mumbai and other cities. An enthusiastic couple monitors a bunch of girls and guys as they shift tables in a span of one maybe two hours. Sit. Speak for eight minutes. Shift. Two days later, if the people you liked, liked you back, you exchange email IDs, numbers and so on.
Yay: If you are in your twenties or still somehow stuck to your rose-tinted glasses into your thirties (no judging), this is for you. Dress up, flirt or try to; either way, the environment is safe and easy, and everyone is as awkward as you. They even give you cue questions if conversations falter.
Nay: If you're a hard drinks person, lay off; they serve mocktails during the session.
If you don't want to shell out '4,000 for an evening with dodgy chances of meeting that 'special' someone, skip. And if you, like me, left your popcorn ideologies about zodiac signs in the last decade, the scorecards will annoy the hell out
of you.
In a nutshell: I found it funny, and I felt old. The conversation ranged from how Kaabil was an important film, to "I love travelling, I just returned from Nashik". For most part, it felt like I was watching reruns of Roadies audition episodes.


V-Day or Me-Day?
Once I went looking, the Internet and smartphone turned out to be a Pandora's Box filled with ways to end your singlehood — a website that throws parties, where you can meet like-minded people; another that provides you with a real relationship manager, and apps whittled down to race, language, obesity level, marital and parental status. But, I realised that staying single is definitely more stress-free than looking for someone. So, this V-Day, inspired by a friend, I could go on a solo trip, or smile widely at someone I find attractive in real time, or upload my profile on Haters, a new app that helps people bond based on their mutual hatred for something.

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