Sounds like the start to a bad joke, but it is in fact a serious question, one that you probably don’t know the answer to, unless you googled it or you happen to be Arul Mani. I first heard about speed dating as a single guy in my late twenties in Illinois.
This ultra fast form of dating popularised in the 1990s by Sex and the City and other TV shows in the US was devised by a Rabbi of an ultra orthodox Jewish community, as a way to get Jewish singles to meet.
I thought the whole thing was for losers, and even though I went dateless on many a weekend night, the loneliness was preferable to the ignominy of attending such events.
“Yeah sure, I know right away if I don’t want to go out with a guy again, or if I am interested in spending more time together.
It’s not like I have to decide about getting married right away.” She didn’t really like most of the men she met – they seemed “not my type” – but, she added, “I met two guys who seemed nice, and I might meet them for a coffee sometime next week.” As I spoke to her, I was aware that in attending this speed dating event, and in choosing her dates, she was exercising a level of autonomy that would not have been possible in the old India.
But in the new India, the confident and independent single Indian woman is exercising her right of choice.
A friend’s sister, in her late twenties told us that she had been to a speed dating event recently. “You spend two minutes with each guy, then the organiser rings a bill and another guy comes to the table.
You write down the names of those people you want to contact, and then they match it with the guys’ list and then they email those who matched with the contact numbers.” “Sounds complicated,” I replied.
“Less complicated than regular dating,” she replied.
I asked her if two minutes was enough time to decide if she liked someone or not.
One of my colleagues at that time in the US told me, when I asked how he met his wife, “We met at a speed dating event, but Sharon doesn’t like telling people that.” His wife smiled and said, “He was a journalist covering the event, and I had just gone along with a friend.” It was almost as if they wanted to distance themselves from the unsavouriness of that evening.
Fast forward a decade and I now live in Bangalore, a city that has morphed from the small town it was when I left 14 years ago into a cosmopolitan chaotic dizzyingly diverse and energetic hub of activity.