Dating In A Foreign Land : Bombay

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Over the last few weeks I’ve really been wanting to put some perspective on the dating scene in Bombay or Mumbai (whatever you want to call it). I initially brought it up in ‘Dating ? What’s That ?’ and then hashed it out in Dating is Not Easy .. Especially in Bombay’ which is when I realized that I needed to put more depth to it .. Of course I could have been completely biased so I went and got a male perspective too ‘Exploring the Unknown World of Dating .. Still’ and sorta broke things down further …

A few weeks ago – as if by miracle – I found an article titled ‘Dating In A Foreign Land’ on the Hindustan Times Blog written by a social networking associate of mine – Naomi Canton. She heads an Expat Group in Bombay and is a pretty cool chick.

side note : I had already titled my blog post with the same name and then I found her post – so had to add the Bombay bit to it)

Every city / country has their own perception of what is and what does not constitute dating. The potpourri that I am – it’s no wonder that the dating dynamics of Bombay have me confused !!!

In the UK and Canada – dating or being in a relationship is defined by the physical side of the relationship. You can consider yourself dating / being in a relationship with someone if from the outset there is an emotional connection and physical attraction between two people. You meet a perfect stranger and realize there’s this ‘chemistry’ or ‘unknown connection’ that draws you to them and you go out on a ‘date’ and that results in a ‘more dates’ and within a few ‘dates’ the two of you are in a relationship.

I have never known any of my friends to get involved in relationships with each other – because if you are already ‘friends’ then its highly unlikely that two people from the same friends circle will ever get together. It’s a big fat ‘ewww’ if you ask me.

In India – at least in Bombay – it’s a bit different. The local born and brought up guys and girls; men and women of Bombay - don’t quite seem to catch the drift of the concept of dating. They all want to …

1. Be Friends …. yes .. Friends First

So … what’s wrong with that ? Nothing to some – and a bit weird for someone like me. I LIKE the idea of ‘not dating a friend’ because it allows me to get to know somebody outside my social circle. It’s a nice feeling to be with someone who accepts you for who you are ‘before you’ve become friends’ so that you can both grow together in a relationship as a couple.

I’ve met people – who have been friends for 5+ years and have started dating perhaps a few years into the friendship; which in turn has resulted some relationships to last a few years (literally) and eventually ends in ..

  1. Marriage.
    • That’s wonderful – for them. For me – that’s like saying ‘oh marry your best mate’ AND that is a crazy idea !! I love my boys to bits but could never see myself marrying them. I’d hope that my potential partner has similar qualities to them but he’d never ‘be them’.
  2. They break-up but stay good friends.
    • And I really mean ‘friends’. I know of one such ‘separated couple’ who are still in regular (almost weekly) contact and have even travelled together as a part of a larger group which I was a part of.
  3. They break-up and cut each other out.
    • Yes it’s normal to cut off from your ex to avoid all the heart ache and drama. No more needs to be said.

2. Be Acquaintances with Benefits. Not even ‘friends’ with benefits.

There is no grey matter. It’s black or white. Of course that’s not true – there is a very small percentage (based on my network of friends, acquaintances & clients) of people who fall in the obvious grey matter. But you get my drift. (in my world – there are no ‘friends’ with benefits – that’s just a polite way to associate someone you are hooking up with)

The trend here (and I speak from personal experience) is that these guys and girls often end up in the following situations :

  1. Struck Out After A Date / 2nd Base.
    • You meet at a bar or party. Exchange Numbers. Strike a conversation via SMS (yes SMS is apparently the way to communicate with a member of the opposite sex); or even BBM (seriously how can a BBM exchange be considered a way to flirt?)
    • You meet up again on what appears to be a ‘date’. Spend a lot of time with each other. Nothing happens. Implication : He’s a gent. She’s comes from a respectable family.
    • You meet up again and the same thing happens. The chemistry is there – both of you can see it – but neither does anything about. Girl doesn’t make a move in case the Guy thinks she’s too forward or *gasp* ‘easy’. Boy doesn’t make a move ‘cos he’s trying to be a gent (erm really?); he’s not sure if she wants him to make a move on her; he wants to but doesn’t want a slap in the face !
    • Next scenario is that both of you do get to doing all that is pleasurable i.e. foreplay but never get any real ‘action’. That’s because the Girl wants to appear casual but really she isn’t going to sleep with the guy until she knows he’s going to establish a relationship. The Guy gets stuck in a catch 22 because he wants to do her – but out of respect (and not wanting to be thrown out with blue balls) – he obliges and doesn’t pursue the ‘action’ partbootycall1 of it hoping that the next time round – he will get some. This can keep going on until both parties admit they want to have sex !
  2. The Hook Up aka The Booty Call.
    • The chemistry is there from the moment you both laid eyes on each other but alas you are acquaintances and there are social norms to be followed.
    • So weeks / months of seeing each other at parties / social gatherings – one of you makes the move; and behold – you have the hook up !
    • He / She could be your hook up / booty call as often or as little as you like. Neither has intentions of being serious – but damn it – at least there’s someone who wants YOU for the day / night.
  3. Wham Bham Thank You Sir / Ma’am.
    • I’ve seen this happen – at clubs – not very often but enough to have caught my attention.
    • You can tell from the look on the person that all they want is a shag and that’s all its ever gonna be.
    • You will probably never see this person again – because he/she is not in your regular social circle.

3. Be Stuck In Limbo … Neither Here or There

This is the classic one that I’ve discovered. People are stuck in limbo. These tend to be guys & girls who would be considered a good catch to date – however they have a few unresolved issues within themselves.

  1. Mixed Emotions / Signals.
    • The guy or girl appears interested and just when you are fed up of ‘not knowing’ whether or not there is any chemistry they drop a bomb on you.
    • The bomb tends to be ‘I’m not too sure what I want right now’ or ‘I don’t know if I want to be in a relationship’ … you get my drift.
  2. Too Much Too Soon
    • We’ve all been eager at times; perhaps too eager … so much so that it drives other people away.
    • I’ve noticed this happen a lot in Bombay – guys / girls who are just too overtly keen on someone and end up becoming more of a nuisance than someone to consider for good company !
    • The intention is meant to be positive – but the result tends to fall as a negative … and so that leaves this guy / girl in a permanent state of limbo !
  3. Marriage is the Goal
    • This guy or girls’ purpose in life is to get married. They have been raised with the thought ‘you must get married and settle down’ which is instilled into everything they do. They want a solid relationship. They also don’t know dating is about.
    • So a potentially great guy / girl who wants a commitment – but won’t commit to the basics of dating as the certainty of a long term established commitment is not there.
    • Isn’t that a catch 22 – how can you marry someone that you’ve not dated right ? (at least for me!)

After 3 years of living in Bombay, this is how I can summarize the dating scene (or lack of) in the city. I may be generalizing but based on comments on my previous posts – it’s not limited to Bombay – it appears to be a nationwide epidemic !

Somewhere in between all of the above – of course there are people who actually manage to date and develop relationships. I’m not saying its not possible – I’m just saying that it’s bloody hard to do it !! Like Naomi – I have found myself in a situation where the guy wasn’t quite sure what we had going on; to anyone else we would have been dating / seeing each other – to him – we were hanging out and being casual ! Some people are just confused – but that’s life eh =P

What are your thoughts on this ? I’d really like to hear different perspectives on this subject. Looking forward to your comments and feedback on this.


Anonymous said...

Since you already know my thoughts on this subject... extensively at that... Im just gonna comment on the "and not wanting to be thrown out with blue balls)" LMFAO!! How well you know us Indian men!! ;) Been there more times that I'd like to remember!!

Dazediva said...

@ Ve .. LMAO ... yes I have to learned the ways of the Indian man ... its all a sham !! Blue ball syndrome is something no man wants to really experience .. so its all about rubbing up against the chick to find some release ! LOL

But what do you think .. have I broken it down correctly ? I realized that all 3 main categories of male:female interaction gets sub-divided into 3 more categories .. obviously I could go on and on (ooh now I want to hear that song) .. but I think I have done a pretty thorough job ;)

Dating Coach said...

I think the Indian people are not used to the concept of Dating, slowly with technology making inroads, Dating will also get its due in a short time.

Anonymous said...

LOL... yeah I think you pretty much covered it all! Tho rubbing up against the chick could be considered unevolved by some!! ;) Bottomline.. you have to realize that most people here (guys and girls included) dont just date for the moment without an agenda.. and frankly, there arent that many chicks out there who are willing to get into an NSA date to start off with! You my dear, are in a minority!!

So dont play the blame game with the poor Indian male here... we're the victims of a scenario created by your own gender!! We'd be more than happy to just date.. have fun(whatever works for both involved).. if it works out, great.. if not, lets move on, no hard feelings!! Figure out if you have a merging of minds first before you do with your bodies obviously, but do it for the sake of building a rapport, not coz you're on a mission to ge married eventually, right?? WRONG!!! Coz the Indian woman, while fighting vociferously to secure her own independence/liberation, is secretly sizing up the date with reference to her "list" of requirements for a boyfriend aka "lifepartner"!! (I'm generalizing here.. my apologies to all those women who dont fit this mould!)

So basically we're left with a behavioural pattern that we're forced to adapt to i.e. date with the intention of getting married tomorrow!!! .... unless you dont mind being called a horny bastard/dog etc!!

How fucked up are we!!! ;)

Sunil Ahuja said...

We've had this discussion before and I know you don't agree with me on this one but I for one don't think it's such a bad thing to get involved with a friend.

I feel that once the passion wears off the relationship is doomed without the mental connect. There's only so much sex one can have. At some point of time a couple needs to start talking to each other.

3 of my long-term relationships were with women who I was originally friends with. I have no regrets, even though I ended up losing 2 of those women as friends. One's parents had issues with her being in touch with me (don't get me started on that phenomenon in this city). The other's husband was insecure. The third one however is still among my closest friends and we talk almost everyday.

Call me jaded but I don't worry about losing friends. Nothing lasts forever and friends come and go.

Most Indian women are always on the defensive. An expression of interest is perceived as an invasion of space. If I didn't date friends, I would hardly be dating.

Dazediva said...

@ Dating Coach .. thanks for your comment, late response on my end - I know - but I actually thought I'd replied to you!

It's true that at a certain level, Indian people in India have trouble grasping the concept of dating. Now after throwing in technology and the 'online dating portals' (not to mention the 'matrimonial' sites) .. the concept gets a bit more confusing .. you've basically got a bunch of people who are still dealing with dating, but now have been provided with potential brides / grooms via online dating / matrimonial sites and are still figuring out the behavioural protocol that is considered acceptable !

@ Ve .. no blame game here hon, just honest opinions .. it's not just the men, but the women too who are a bit confused about dating ... The girls have societal & family pressures about the 'right & wrong way of doing things'; guys on the other hand feel that if all girls have an agenda then they should begin to be weary ... it automatically becomes a catch 22 wherein even if the 2 people wanted to genuinely date each other - they would just be 'on guard' every time !

I suppose as a society / culture - we should (and can) accept that every guy & girl at some point wants to settle down in life so instinctively a mental check list goes off with each new partner .. so you get to know each other, have some fun, and figure out whether that is something you want for the short haul or something you want to maintain for a long haul ...the key here to make things work is 'communication' and that is where the problem lies with most relationships & couples .. communication isn't the forte and once it becomes so - the blame game should pretty much come to a stop ... make sense ?

@ Sunil .. LOL yes we have had this convo before .. I know a lot of successful relationships that have come out of extended friendships, so it's not like it doesn't work .. it just so happens that I've only seen these type of relationships here in India - never anywhere else ..

Personally, I haven't dated anyone who is actually my 'friend' .. all the guys I have dated were 'acquainted to me or introduced in some social setting' and we would have started 'casually dating' within 2-3 weeks of having met if the chemistry was right ... sure some of those relationships only lasted a few weeks, a few months and 2 of them lasted close to 1.5 years ..

Since I've never dated any of my close friends - its hard for me to grasp that thought .. I did discuss this with the best friends - and we all thought it would ruin our level of friendship if any of us were to get involved ..

And then there is this whole other flip side to it as you have experienced i.e insecurity etc .. a break up with 'a friend' can really mess with your social life and cause a major drift too ..

If I take my best guy mates out of the equation, from the current guys in my social circle (who are acquaintances and NOT friends) .. there's maybe 2 guys who 'have potential to date' but even then I would have my doubts about them ..

Don't think you are jaded - you're just playing the circuit which is tried and tested; and there's nothing wrong with that as long as you are cool with it ... If I could do it - I would .. but I'm still under the impression, that I should be able to meet someone outside of my inner circle to add some spice to my life :)

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Took you just over 2 months to respond! :) Fool!

Dazediva said...

@ Ve .. oye shut it :P Nov & Dec was super busy for me with the wedding remember :P besides Mauritius was calling me hehehe

Anonymous said...

ummm.. yeah! sure! whatever! Then again.. when Mauritius beckons, you'd be an even bigger fool not to respond! ;)