I liked her profile for her uninhibited smile and casual but sophisticated dress sense. Now, almost three months after we began chatting on Tinder, I’m finally about to meet her. She was my first ever match, but she’s my fifth date.
It’s been 100 days of ‘Almosts’ and near misses: she’s been too busy, then I’ve been too busy. I’ve canceled on her once, at the last minute, and she’s returned the favor.
Tinder has begun to bore me. When I began this experiment, I gleefully embraced my newfound ability to have digital conversations with women who I’d never met before. But what was once intriguing and refreshing has become exhausting and mundane.
I just can’t seem to escape Tinder’s inherent weirdness. Tinder is cognitive dissonance, the bizarre experience of sitting down with a complete stranger (in the physical sense), except she’s not technically a complete stranger, because she’s already read thousands of my thoughts. It feels strange every time.
I arrive at Starbucks at 9PM, the time which we’ve agreed to. I see a girl in a green hooded sweatshirt standing by the door. She looks a lot like my Tinder date. I walk up to her and introduce myself. It is not my Tinder date. It is a stranger. The stranger greets my attempt at a friendly smile with alarm and fear. This is why I hate Tinder. This is the most fucking awkward moment of my entire awkward life.
I find a seat inside and twiddle my thumbs as I wait, peering at the endless frappuccino permutations on the Starbucks menu. Everything looks too expensive and way too sweet.
She arrives, we hug. She is so short that when she tries to kiss me on the cheek, she misses, and leaves a smudge of pink lipstick on my neck. I wipe it off with branded Starbucks tissues.
She looks like her photos but is nothing like her texts suggested. I had feared that she would be neurotic, or scatterbrained, or insecure, but she’s not. She’s bubbly, talkative, and cheerfully self-deprecating. We have a wonderful conversation that covers everything from clueless brand managers to Catholic schools to the Punjabi dance moves that dominate Mumbai’s night clubs after 2am.
There is no romantic spark, but there is a glimmer of friendship. Over coffee, I’ve found a funny, career-focused young woman who enjoys a drink and is mercifully well-adjusted.
Then I run into her at a bar the following week and discover that she and my cousin went to college together and are mortal enemies.
Watch out for Date #6.
By Kunal Bambawale
Photography: Karan Khosla