D, 35, executive producer at a media company, 163cm, graduate degree, exercises regularly, drinks socially, smokes never, looking for relationship, open minded, vaccinated.
Ranveer, 38, YouTuber, 175cm, MBA, exercises regularly, drinks socially, smokes, looking for relationship, want no kids, vaccinated.
Ranveer swiped right on D’s profile. Later, D did the same on Ranveer’s. They are a match on a dating app, in a post-pandemic world.
“Hi,” D wrote moments before their match was going to expire. Damn! This idea of women making the first move is turning more into a liability than an asset, she thought to herself while dropping that text.
Ranveer received the notification on his phone. Just in time! I know what you are doing lady. I will return you the favour. He talked in his head, put his phone away and went to sleep.
The next morning:
“How’s Wednesday morning treating you?”
It took D an hour to respond. “Just begun for me. How about your morning?”
“A cup of tea makes it beautiful for me,” Ranveer replied.
D: “So, you are a tea person?”
Ranveer: “Big time. How about you?”
D: “Take a guess?”
Ranveer: “Umm… coffee?”
Ranveer: “Tea! You too! ”
D:“Neither tea nor coffee.”
Ranveer: “Ah! I see.”
Seeing no response from D, Ranveer wrote back, “I’m wondering if we end up going on a date, where do we go then? Given that you are neither a coffee nor a tea person?”
D: “Why do we need to step out for a date?”
Ranveer: “What do you mean?”
D: “We can do it here. Virtual! Over a video call. I mean if it comes to that.”
Ranveer: “Comes to what?”
D: “Comes to going on a ‘date-date’.”
Ranveer: “Ah… I see. Have you done that often? I mean, are you comfortable with video calls with unknown men?”
D: “The pandemic made me comfortable.”
Ranveer: “Which is over now.”
D: “The pandemic is over. The comfort of going on a virtual date isn’t.”
Ranveer: “Interesting! And I thought women would be scared… of a guy who is getting to hear her, watch her… using technology… from the comfort of his house.”
D: “Isn’t that sort of psychopath threat more evident in the real world over real dates? One can do more harm in person. We just don’t realise it. No?”
Ranveer: “Hmmm… I am thinking now.”
D: “And in a gender equal world that we want to build, I believe that sort of psychopath threat is evident for men as well. They too can be the victims, as had been the cases.”
Ranveer: “I like that—not being gender biased.”
D: “Thanks and that’s how I am. Now coming back to virtual dates, look at the pros—You don’t have to drive out, find parking, pay for it, make each other wait, pay for coffee…. I mean, you do everything from the comfort of your home. I am not a coffee-tea, but a wine person. I love the idea of sitting in the safe comfort of my house, sipping wine, playing my music in the background and being on a date with a guy.”
Ranveer: “Hmm… I never thought of it from that perspective.”
D: “There is always a first time to everything. Including thinking. ”
Ranveer: “Hold onto that thought… but don’t you think a real thing would score over a virtual one?”
D: “Of course! But when it comes to that requirement. Till then, for me, virtual scores more than the real. It’s a hard-learned lesson from the pandemic, something which has changed my dating life post-pandemic. For me, the above pros of virtual dates outdo the cons of a real one. And I am not done counting the pros yet. ”
Ranveer: “Oh boy! There are more? Shoot.”
D: “What if the guy isn’t who he claims to be? Or doesn’t look like the one in his pictures? You know how people upload their best Photoshopped and younger versions from five years ago. I want to see the “real” him, before the real date, in my virtual date.”
Ranveer: “That’s smart, actually. I agree.”
D: “Plus, let’s say if I am not liking this person, not enjoying our conversation, it is easier to walk out of this date than the real one.”
Ranveer: “How mean? Won’t it hurt the other person? This comfort of walking away?”
D: “Dude, it’s the same for him also, na? Plus, it won’t hurt him if all of a sudden the modem gives up.”
Ranveer: “I am making a mental note of this. Thank you for the warning!”
D: “Oops! I have revealed too much, I guess.”
Ranveer: “It’s ok. This is totally not the conversation I had intended to have, but I am finding it interesting. Your perspective! There certainly seem to be more pros than cons.”
D: “There are more left. ”
Ranveer: “What are you—a brand ambassador for virtual dates?”
D: “I am what I am. Told you. You can judge me if you want.”
Ranveer: “I won’t. Alright, so tell me, what more has this pandemic changed for you in terms of dating? I am keen.”
D: “Honestly, I am not built that way—to invest in going out on real dates. It is one reason I had stayed single for a long while. However, having said that, and after living alone for so long in this pandemic, I want to give someone a chance for the sake of not experiencing this loneliness again. Also, it’s about not nit-picking anymore, something I used to do. The pandemic brought about this change. I guess, earlier, I had assumed that living alone is so cool. The pandemic made me realise it isn’t so cool in the long run for me, might be for someone else. And this virtual scene is a boon that way to discover new men. But will I get one? Can’t say. Yet, virtual dates keep the hope alive. That matters.”
Ranveer: “Interesting! I like how you put things in perspective. Don’t know about you, but I would love to go on a virtual date with you. Who knows, you may change my understanding of love as well, based on the pandemic.”
D: “I think a pandemic won’t change the very nature of love. It certainly has changed the way to find that love, I guess.”
Ranveer: “How beautifully put. I didn’t ask you earlier. What’s your full name, D?”
D: “I will tell you tonight over our virtual date.”
—Ravinder Singh is author of I Too Had a Love Story and other books.