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So, no one wastes time with bullshit. When she says met, she means once, for sex, and nothing else. The guys were good-looking and well spoken. Hooking up. It is more than a term. It is a culture. A time. Yet, the of Indian users on Tinder is growing at four per cent a day. The success of Tinder and other international dating, or hook-up, apps in India has led to the birth of a of Indian dating apps too.
The six-month-old Krush has had around 65, downlo, according to its founder, Rajat Rao, while Ravi Mittal, the founder of Quackquack, which has been around for nearly four years, says it has more than four lakh users. All the apps are easy to use. On Tinder, you see pictures and bios of single people around you and, if you have logged in using Facebook, you can also see how many common friends you have with each prospect. You swipe left to pass on a profile and right to like one.
Your choice remains anonymous until someone picks you back, when a match is formed. You are then led to a chat room in which you can talk to your match and decide whether or not to exchange more information. Most of the Indian apps work similarly, with minor tweaks in the interfaces and levels of security.
Several of the Indian dating apps declare themselves facilitators of long-term, meaningful relationships, and it is true that a section of their users is looking for love and not just sex. Every third female profile I checked out on Tinder mentioned an aversion to hook-ups. But, yeah, I like to have sex twice or thrice a month. This kind of insouciant, almost dismissive, reference to sex as a temporary desire, to be satiated quickly and without consequence, becomes a fixture of my conversations with people who use dating apps.
But, you do crave sex. So, you go out there and help yourself. I had a fuck buddy for a year. I met him on Tinder. We would meet once or twice a week.
Then, I moved to Delhi, so now we just chat sometimes. No emotional entangling for me. One of them was an artist who asked her to model for a painting after they had slept together. I posed for him. It was a very different experience; much better than the sex.
Kushal, a year-old social media professional, says he got drunk one night, decided to test the tints on his beer goggles and swiped some girls right on Tinder. Aarav, a year-old copywriter from Kolkata, says he hooked up with a girl on Tinder and realised she was an old primary-school classmate only when they began talking after sex.
Suddenly, I was convinced that I was the only person in the country who had not got consistently laid through my early adulthood. While I had been moaning into my beer mug about how hard it was to meet someone in India, everyone around me was fucking, all the fucking time. It took the high-pitched shrieks my sister-in-law used to tell me about one of her friends using a dating app to shock me back into reality.
This was still a country where a sexual encounter conceived in cyberspace and destined for vacuum elicited astonished reactions and hushed gossip. Now, in an altered memory, I see Nancy, Nupur, Ankita, Aarav and Kushal peering out of the windows on either side of the street, each with a date from an app draped around their shoulders, laughing at me. Several theories are plausible. It could be that hooking up has been a subculture in India for several years and that it is only a small circle of people using dating apps for hook-ups while the majority of Indians on them have different priorities.
It could be that the structure of relationships in India has been evolving rapidly and online hook-ups are just the next step. It could also be that apps such as Tinder have not just facilitated casual sex but acted as a catalyst for it. Most of the makers of Indian dating apps are convinced the first hypothesis is true.
Sachin Bhatia, co-founder of the recently launched TrulyMadly, says the group of people looking for short-term relationships is simply not big enough to target. Nitin Gupta, founder of the one-and-a-half-year-old Vee, says his app does not see a spike in activity on Friday, like American dating apps do, clearly indicating that people are not using it for weekend flings.
They may just end up making a friend. It is just better PR to say you are a champion of everlasting love rather than a virtual window display of possible lays. Rajat Rao, founder of Krush, an Indian app that only shows you people you have common Facebook friends with, has no qualms in admitting Krush is a vehicle for quick and uncomplicated sex. Boys and girls lose their virginity while in high school. You think they even know what a serious relationship means at that age?
They think they do, but all they want is something physical. Hormones drive you crazy. Ankita says that after she returned from her business course in London, she had three or four one-night stands with people she met at bars or through friends. In fact, I went online to find a better quality of men; maybe someone I could have a conversation with and explore something more serious. Anyone who has been to an Indian pub, club, coffee shop, book shop or any of the other places men and women go to pick each other up, would find it hard to believe that people are pairing up organically.
Hook-up culture comes unhinged at the door. This is why the story of online dating in India could be unique. It could, if its popularity continues to grow at the rate it has been, change the dynamics between men and women in this country. In the West, online dating seems to be the logical next step in a society that has become increasingly superficial in the way it approaches sex.
I remember visiting a club in Berlin once where single men and women danced around each other, made eye contact and left with a stranger. As the crowd decreased init became clear it was also diminishing in beauty. By the end of the night, all that was left were a few awkward, unattractive singles reedly settling for one another.
It would be just a matter of ease, then, for someone who frequented such an establishment to swipe left and right on their phones rather than visit the club. In India, however, singles nights at clubs are avoided for fear of surges of desperate men flooding establishments and scaring off women in the process.
Even in pubs that do have a healthy male-female ratio, single people rarely approach each other. Women have become more careful and afraid of men in such spaces, and understandably so. A virtual conversation is always easier because you can get out of it quicker. If you make a wrong move, apologise profusely and log out. Or, you are scared that you will face brickbats. People do want to hook up. Technology has really supported it. Online dating has been around since the s, but, until recently, people were deterred by the stigma that resorting to looking for a mate online reflected a reation that one could not find someone in the physical world.
When Tinder launched inthough, its clever marketing tactics and simple interface made it instantly popular. Suddenly, being on an online dating platform was not desperate; it was cool. That message was transported from the West to India in the backpacks of the hundreds of students who come home after their foreign adventures every year and the briefcases of non-resident Indians and expats looking for work experience in a developing country. The regular coverage Indian apps such as Krush and Thrill have managed to get from trendy publications such as Vogue and Elle has dissipated apprehensions that ing a dating app would risk you being classified as lonely and unpopular.
Not everyone is keen on admitting they are scanning their neighbourhoods for potential quickies, but, in general, young people seem quite unembarrassed about being on Tinder or other apps. Apps such as TrulyMadly are highly focussed on providing enhanced security to all their users. TrulyMadly actually asks you to a scanned copy of an identification card before it allows you to connect with other users. Some apps, though, are clearly still working out glitches. While browsing through Krush, I was given a rude shock when I was offered the chance to connect with my wife.
It would appear that Krush was simply showing me people off my Facebook friends list, which I allowed it access to. The next step for dating apps in India is tier-two and tier-three cities, says Josh Israel, co-founder of Thrill, which launched earlier this year. Dating apps have come under intense scrutiny in recent times for popularising a culture that judges people solely on their looks. On Tinder, a large percentage of your decision to approve or disapprove someone is based on a few photographs.
Nupur insists on her Tinder hook-ups being hot and buff, while Aarav has a thing for women with perfect teeth. As dating applications become more popular, we may find superficiality and instant gratification being debated here soon. For the moment, though, India appears to be still experimenting. Hooking up is more a phase than a lifestyle choice. If I am genuinely interested in the person, I want to stick around.
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