These stories are part of an online crowdsourced project titled #100IndianTinderTales, in which Indians share their experiences of finding love and intimacy on the dating app.
I have been a loner all my life.
Then five months ago, a colleague introduced me to Tinder, and I logged on. After looking at a few girls’ profiles, I switched to swiping on people from the same sex. I was just curious to see how it worked and how men initiate conversations with other men. I was amazed that every second person I was swiping right on matched with me. I had several conversations with many men, but none clicked.
Then one day, I happened to meet someone very interesting. Soon numbers were exchanged and we talked about cars, bikes, politics, sports and video games. I was confused — was this the reason I had joined Tinder? No. To have general, casual conversations with people around me? Not at all. We decided to meet for beer and the agenda was to have a detailed debate on the current political situation. Imagine! We got very drunk, had heated arguments, and ended up becoming great friends. He was extremely good looking, neat and balanced — and so am I, I believe.
At around 2am, we sat in our respective cars and said goodbye. At the traffic signal, I got a call from him: ‘My car is behind yours, and if you didn’t mind the arguments, let’s talk for some more time.’ We drove to his apartment for another round of beers.
And then came a tight hug, followed by a kiss.
It was the first time I was kissed by a guy and I lost myself in him. It was followed by very passionate sex. Though it was slightly painful, I loved it. I never thought my first Tinder date would be so pleasurable! I stayed with him for one full day and night, as it was the weekend, and we loved each other up like anything. There was sex and conversations on the sofa, in the kitchen, in the washroom, on the carpet, and in every possible place in the apartment. He didn’t want me to leave. The best part was that there was a lot of respect and genuine love, which reflected in our attitude towards each other.
We met several times after that, and we still meet: the connection has grown stronger. There is no commitment but just good vibes, and of course, great sex.
“Why does a man name his penis?
Because he doesn’t want a stranger to make decisions for him.”
I got this joke from the girl bestie recently and we both guffawed. We talked about various things and it led to unsolicited dick pics. I asked her what she thought. ‘G-R-O-S-S,’ she wrote. Followed by, ‘One of the most difficult questions I have had to answer is: does it turn you on?’ We laughed about how it never does. And how dumb men must be to think a picture of their thing would turn on women (not discounting the fact that in the flesh it totally can). She said that we must have a readymade answer. I said mine was ‘Aah’, which my auto correct thinks is my friend Aashna. ‘This is what encourages them to send it to the next girl.’
We laughed some more.
I have gotten four unsolicited dick pics in my life — not counting the ones my gay bestie sends me for vetting — and all of them have been from Caucasian men. (What girl bestie calls, ‘So white, all tube lights’) The first one was from a too-good-looking-to-be-true American gent I’d matched with on Tinder. We moved to WhatsApp, where I kept asking him for pictures. I was planning to do a book called Everyday Kamasutra, and his body gave me ample inspiration. I drew a lot. He was rather flattered.
Then one day, he slipped in his erect penis. I quickly junked his junk. He complained, saying, ‘It is the first time I sent a girl a picture of my penis and you didn’t even react.’ <del> What do I say, let me dance around your pole? NO WAY </del> It made me very uncomfy but we didn’t talk about it. We lost touch over time.
The next was from an Italian man I matched with in Vienna but never met. After months of not hearing from him, he randomly messaged me on WhatsApp saying that he had moved to Australia, and how hot I looked in my display pic. I thanked him and paid him a compliment or two. He tried sexting in his broken English and I laughed it away. Next came the dick pic. I knew he was looking for a reaction. I sent him a kissing emoji, told him that I had to leave, and quickly deleted the picture.
The third was from a man I met and had great chemistry with. When things were heating up between us, he sent me a dick pic. This was a man I didn’t want to disappoint, so I sent him an ‘Aah’. While I was deleting his junk, he asked me to return the favour. I told him if I sexted anymore, I would have to take seven dips in the Ganges. We laughed and I probably killed his drive.
By the time I got the fourth one, all my squeamishness had left the room, or rather, the train. I was on an overnight train when a British bloke I matched with started sexting me. I added a monosyllable or two. He looked like a dream and only talked about banging this exotic chick (me) in various cities around Europe. While he kept writing, I was talking to a Gujarati family about mukhvas, theplas, etc. He kept adding links to his pictures on Facebook. I looked at each one.
Then he added a picture of his phallus, turned the setting to private, and sent me the link. My first thought was, ‘God has given him such a good looking face, but the penis looks a bit small.’ Suddenly I heard myself. This was a penis I was talking about, something that used to be eww for me, especially that of a random man. And here I was judging away. Maybe I had grown — in a twisted kind of way.
The next morning, I took a screenshot and sent it to the girl bestie. We both giggled and felt guilty. Then we told ourselves: men do this all the time, dismissing women over the size of their body parts.
After all this, I must confess: I’ve never seen a Tinder dick in the flesh.
Like my friend Aashna says, ‘No Tinder dick picks could serenade thy vagina.’
There’s a beautiful boy I matched with. His bio said he played the violin, was a Karate black belt, and a meditation junkie. I laughed.
When we got talking, he suggested we go to the best biryani place in town. It was a Military Hotel Mess. We then decided to go to an art gallery and look at Raja Ravi Verma paintings. We spent hours in the gallery in silence. We went to the park nearby and talked and talked until one of us suggested we eat, and we went to a shady erstwhile dance bar. Drunk on Old Monk and Coke, we walked back to his place. He led me to the terrace and excused himself.
I looked around. There were paintings on the terrace. Who leaves paintings on the terrace? Some of them had turned black around the edges, and yet there was nothing off about them. In fact they looked like they belonged there. ‘You have naked woman on your terrace,’ I remember telling him, looking at the gorgeous futuristic paintings.
‘I like naked women on my terrace,’ he said, and kissed me.
I lost my virginity to that man. On that terrace.
Here’s a Tinder tip: Don’t even bother.
I’ve swiped left. I’ve swiped right. I’ve deleted my account and started over again, swiping the same people right and left again. I’ve matched and immediately unmatched with some for very valid reasons, like when they say ‘Hai’ instead of ‘Hi’.
Some I’ve unmatched after a week of deep conversations that went: Hi how are you have a great day. Every. Single. Day.
With some of them, the chats weren’t so lame. Like the guy who sexted me something I’d usually find extremely creepy and immediately block. But his sexts had proper spellings, grammar and even punctuation. That, combined with the fact that I was slightly tipsy and alone in another country, made that sexting session a good one. I couldn’t bring myself to go beyond ‘hmmm’ and ‘oooh’, but what he wrote was so much better than a 50 Shades novel. He tried it again, but back in India and sober, I found it extremely meh.
Before he left India he asked me to fly over to his city for a ‘24 hour sex marathon and a weekend of erotic hedonism’. Maybe if the flights weren’t so expensive, I just might have. Or maybe not. And no, I didn’t keep him. Normal chats got awkward after that and I had to let him go.
Or the guy who almost fell in love with me after just one week of chatting. He started signing off chats with ‘Love you’. I had to let him go, but since he was this sensitive-tragic-poet-emowriter type, I had to let him go very gently.
And then there is this has-been actor guy who spammed me with pictures of his days as a ‘hero’ in the 90s, his wildlife photographs (deer and an elephant), his sky-scapes (edited sunsets), and then suddenly sneaked in his dick pic! My very first dick pic! But since he has a longwinded Rajinikanth connection, my very first dick pic was at least one that was famous by association. (Wait. That didn’t sound right.) I still keep him though, mainly for the lulz I get when he goes off on one of his actor/man/manactor ego trips. But no, I’ll never meet him in person. Because that…that… thing will keep floating in front of his face whenever I look at him. *shudder*
Some of them made it to actual real life flesh-and-blood dates. Like the media guy who took me to a Sangeeta for dinner. (Ok, I’m not a food snob, but who takes someone to an idlydosavada place for a dinner date, that too the very first date?) Anyway, the guy turned out to be very married, with a very public Facebook profile full of pictures of his wife and kid. Asshole. But I still keep him. For two reasons: one, I want to see for just how long he plans to lameass flirt with me and pester me for another date before he knows that I know. And two, I keep him for the Tamil Nadu politics inside stories, the juicy ones that don’t make it to the newspapers.
The rest have mostly been passers-by, the ones I match with when they’re in town for a day or swiping from the airport. Nice decent guys, most of them. Some have made it to WhatsApp, then even to Facebook, but later fallen into that silent black hole of we’re-never-going-to-ever-meet-so-what’s-the-point-of-these-chats.
But oh well. Like I said, Tinder in Chennai: Don’t even bother.
Tinder Fatigue. It is a very real condition. My fingers are tired, my brain is tired, my heart is tired. I am tired. And the Universe can do nothing about it.
During my first few days in Vienna, my Russian flatmate said, ‘You MUST have a European lover’ — and pushed me to try Tinder.
I was jet lagged and woke up at 4 am every morning with nothing to do. So I installed the app. Like a noob, I would check everything before I swiped right. I imagined the men I right swiped would be at my doorstep, and that was a scary thought.
The criteria were the same — face, age, bio. Guy without a bio had little chance of getting swiped right.
This guy didn’t have a bio but he reminded me of a Dutch-Punjabi guy I knew back home, and I was curious if it was him. We matched, and he couldn’t stop gushing over this exotic person (me) he had matched with. After the regular set of questions, he asked:
‘What would you like to see in Vienna?’
‘Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, I have loved it from the time I was 17.’
‘Did you know he lived in our neighbourhood?’
We were both in the 7th district in Vienna. I was elated to be living in the same neighbourhood as my hero. I also mentioned my love for Rilke and he quickly wrote out a few lines by Rilke in German.
‘For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so,
because it serenely disdains to destroy us.
Every angel is terrible.’
(Later he told me those were the only lines he knew.)
Looks-wise he was okay… a lot paler than the person I knew back home, but with Klimt and Rilke, he had scored.
‘What are you doing this Sunday?’
‘Hmm… nothing much as of now.’
‘Would you like to come walking with me?’
Wow! This was the first person that had asked me to go walking. They all wanted to meet for drinks (which for me was scary) or drink coffee (which I don’t drink). We met at an old church near my house. I was late, he was nervous. He blurted out, ‘You are so gorgeous, I am so nervous, can I smoke to relax?’ He smoked a cigarette, and then we walked to Klimt’s house.
I had known many Germans and met a few Austrians before I met him. My perception was that people from cold countries take longer to warm up. But this guy was making sure I left all those preconceptions behind.
He was warm, open and very engaging. It almost felt like we were old friends and I was visiting his city for the first time, so he had to show me all of it. His house, where he worked, where he first smoked a cigarette, favourite park, favourite restaurant, etc. And tell me all the stories about life, country, romance, working on his first novel, inbreeding among the Habsburgs, Mozart’s whorey-ness, Viennese waltz, the Viennese plague, Gothic architecture. Everything one can share with a dear friend that one may never see again.
I had not seen Before Sunrise then but now that I have, I feel our meeting was much like the film. He drew me out, threw open his world and invited me in. I happily walked in and took my seat.
He was funny, treating me to local delicacies and was totally charming the pants off me, while keeping a ten-inch distance from me. In his words, he didn’t want to ‘upset my culture’. After walking for about five hours, we decided to get cake at a local coffee shop. I refused to eat any, saying Europe was making me fat. He quickly said, ‘But beauty needs space.’ I smiled and ate my cake.
After an hour in the coffee shop, he walked me home. We stood outside the apartment door and talked for a long time. It was awkward to say bye. I couldn’t bring myself to kiss him, so we shook hands.
When I reached home, my worried flatmate was wondering where to begin looking for me. While she talked, I thought maybe we should have kissed. So I sent a message. ‘I felt a little awkward about kissing.’
‘I am on your street, come down.’
‘Nah! I am already in my night clothes.’
We exchanged numbers.
I had about 1000 free text messages and no one to message. It almost felt like young romance. He wanted to come over for butter chicken, so I did the tiring job of grocery shopping in German and cooked a big meal. I was about to go for a shower and my phone rang. He said he’d have to cancel, since his ex-girlfriend had found out about him using Tinder. They had spoken, he was confused, and he didn’t want me to be part of his confusion. I didn’t say anything, all I thought was: who is going to eat all the butter chicken?
My flatmate was away in Amsterdam. Over the next two days, I felt cheated, angry and wanted to cry. I wasn’t looking for love, but this guy came my way, drew me out, and then when I was interested, he vanished with a phone call, leaving me to eat butter chicken for a whole week! Life was bloody unfair!
But this was Europe and I had many things to do: working, cooking, travelling, and so many people to meet. I was beyond popular, because I was like an egg yolk in a sea of egg whites. I met other men, but every time I passed the church, I’d look for him.
Then one afternoon, I opened a fortune cookie after a Chinese lunch. It read: Be patient, small blockades will go away.
After the meal, I walked home, took the wrong lane and found myself in front of Gustav Klimt’s house. I knew I was close to mine and kept walking till I reached the church. This time I wasn’t looking for him but he was sitting there, smoking. I looked away and ran home. Once I reached home, I felt stupid about not approaching him.
My time in Vienna was coming to an end. One day, I went drinking with colleagues from work. One person asked me about the best thing that happened to me while in Vienna. I mentioned this guy, because I had told myself I was too old and love would never happen again, and meeting him changed that. This person was a die-hard romantic and I was fairly drunk. When I got home, he messaged me, ‘You have to tell him what you feel.’ He pushed and persuaded me, and a text message was fired off.
In the morning when I went back to work, my colleague asked, ‘Did he reply?’ I had forgotten about the text message, and he hadn’t replied. But it didn’t hurt anymore.
On my last night in Vienna, my phone buzzed at around 3.30 am. I thought it was my alarm. I had an early morning flight back home but instead woke up to a very warm message from him. As I left, I kept looking at the church, hoping he’d be there — but he wasn’t.
I came back and life went on. One day, I saw him on my WhatsApp contact list, where he was in a shirtless summer avatar. I messaged: ‘I couldn’t have scrolled passed without saying you look incredibly delish!’ He replied. We got talking. We still do from time to time, and it is always deep, scary, very personal things or silly, stupid things. Things we wouldn’t discuss with our closest friends. Us being 6000 kilometres apart helps.
Once, I asked him why he didn’t come that evening. He said, ‘We were getting serious. You were so happy to be here, I didn’t want to screw it up with my confusion.’
When I made the book Beauty Needs Space, I sent him pictures. He bragged about it to all his friends in Vienna. I still send him all the messages I get from women who love his body positive message. There have been times when I have felt lonely and scared, and he has appeared out of nowhere to share a picture of a rainbow over a tree near my house in Vienna.
And late one night when I ordered butter chicken in a hotel room in Bangalore, I looked at my phone to see a message that read — ‘I just ate butter chicken with my colleagues at an exorbitant Indian restaurant in Vienna and thought of you. Merry Christmas.’
‘<del>Serves you right.</del>’
‘:) Merry Christmas.’