Dating on the goAbout a year ago, I was a wrecked, heart-broken character still hung up on a bad break up. So, my work best friend Abha, who is the goddess of whipping up the quirkiest of Nepali greeting cards at Little Things, pumped me up for a speed-date programme that she was to organise with her partners on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, that year nothing materialised.
About a year ago, I was a wrecked, heart-broken character still hung up on a bad break up. So, my work best friend Abha, who is the goddess of whipping up the quirkiest of Nepali greeting cards at Little Things, pumped me up for a speed-date programme that she was to organise with her partners on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, that year nothing materialised.
By the time 2018 came to an end, I had become a happy-go-lucky single woman, ready to mingle. Throughout the year, I often teased and probed Abha to organise the speed-date event and one fine day in January, I finally got ‘that’ call: “Get your best clothes on, you’re registering for the biggest speed-date ever.”
As date day approached, I was a mixed bag of emotions—I was excited to meet new people, but also apprehensive. What sort of men would participate? Would I be judged for going on a speed date? Would I be able to find someone at a speed date? These questions made me reconsider my decision over and over again. Thankfully, my other girlfriend had also signed up, which made things easier.
A few days prior to the event, I informed my mom about it. At first, she was appalled. Then, she said, “I pity the men who will be meeting you. Behave well.”
On February 14, the day was finally here. As soon as I woke up and looked outside the window, the weather got to me: gloomy clouds loomed in the sky. I dressed myself in a grey cardigan, a tartan shawl, black pants and my favourite brown boots, and headed off to work. I was still a little skeptical about going, but all my colleagues were encouraging. So, after applying a little makeup, I called a Tootle and reached Basecamp, the venue in Jhamsikhel, right on time.
My friend, however, was a little late. And as I stood outside the venue, I was a little intimidated by the crowd and went to a nearby pasal for a smoke—to calm those last minute jitters.
By the time my friend arrived, I had already met a few other familiar faces—which made things a whole lot easier. Before heading upstairs to where the event was taking place, I walked to the restroom first for some final touch ups.
The floor upstairs was abuzz with a lot of excitement. The organisers of the event asked us to pick a piece of paper from a bowl to assign us a seat. I got table number five. At the table, a man dressed in a suit was already seated. A tingling sensation mixed with nervousness built in as I approached the table. As soon as we introduced ourselves, we hit it off instantly. All awkwardness faltered, and I actually started enjoying myself.
There were 20 men and 20 women in the event, everyone opposite each other. The rules were pretty simple: while the men would remain seated, the women would move around talking to each man for five minutes. There would be no exchanging last names or phone numbers. If you wanted to ask a person out for another date, you needed to write them a postcard that was available at the event.
At 6:30 pm sharp, the event kicked off. And for the next two hours, I spoke to 20 men I had never met before. Most conversations started with the standard question: what do you do? And while I sincerely enjoyed many conversations, some were awkward, some unbearable and some memorable.
One of the most entertaining five minutes I spent were at table no 13, with one man who spent a good amount of the limited time we had talking about his ex-girlfriend, whose name was also Alisha. While I wanted to tell him that bringing up your ex on a speed date is probably not the best way to start a conversation, I didn’t have the heart to say it.
With the night getting fun and exhausting, I finally hopped to the second-last table, not realising that I was going to have the time of my life.
“Hello, I am Alisha,” I said, offering my hand to shake.
“Spin,” he said, after introducing himself, holding my hand for longer than necessary.
I had guessed that might get a little weird but this was unexpectedly strange. Even so, I obliged and spun around dutifully. Then, I asked him what he did and things started to get bizarre.
He was an aspiring palm reader, he said. “You are an independent lady who loves to watch Game of Thrones,” he predicted, a generic guess that might have been true for anyone there.
At the speed date event, most of the men were engineers and most of the women journalists, which might have made conversation mundane but it was all about turning the conversation towards more interesting avenues.
By the time the event ended, I was happy with myself for having made an effort to talk to complete strangers. As an active Tinder user, I realised that speed-dating, despite its minor hiccups, was so much better than what happens on your phone. Meeting a new person and giving them five minutes of your time to get to know a little bit about them, without any judgement and expectations, helps you understand people better. There is room for empathy, and also room to learn something new about yourself.
I didn’t go to a speed date event expecting to find the love of my life. I did it for the experience and to make a few new friends. And it turns out, I did make friends that I would definitely see again.