Fifty First Dates
Femina|June 24, 2018

Tired of swiping through apps? Give speed dating a chance for some real connection.

Simran Ahuja

When Gunjal Bhandari, a 29-year-old artist and textile designer, attended a speed dating event in Mumbai last year, she had only one apprehension—what if she didn’t find a prospective partner there. “Little did I know that it would turn out to be the one and only event I would attend. The meet was held on November 12. By the next day, I was already dating Mayank, who I had met there. We both are even thinking of tying the knot by the end of the year,” says Bhandari.

What makes speed dating different, you ask? You know the usual tale. Girl meets boy, boy meets girl. They then spend multiple days and dates getting to know each other. In speed dating, you meet many potential partners in one evening, but spend only a few minutes with each. You then select one or more of them for a longer date and play the field. Think of speed dating as the 21st century swayamvar, says Sandeep Shetty, who works at SpeedCoffee, a speed dating platform launched seven years ago. “In a swayamvar, the bride got to meet several prospective grooms at one venue and chose ‘The One’. Speed dating invites not just eligible young men, but women too. And instead of garlands, phone numbers are exchanged!” he says.

Woo, Tinder, TrulyMadly—been there, done that. If you’re looking for something fresh, fun and maybe even a little flirty, speed dating may be your safest bet. We do some digging around and get you all the inside scoop from the world of mini dating in India. Speed dating finds its roots in the Jewish community. In 1998, Rabbi Yaacov Deyo organised a matchmaking event that helped Jewish singles find prospective matches in California. In an article titled Who Made Speed Dating?, published in The New York Times Magazine, writer Pagan Kennedy explains the history of the concept. She writes: “That night, in a Peet’s Coffee & Tea in Beverly Hills, the Orthodox rabbi twirled his gragger (a noisemaker) to signal when it was time for the single men and women present to switch partners and spark up a conversation with the next stranger.”

While the concept is popular in the US and UK, it took some time for the Indian audience to accept it. Taru Kapoor, GM of India Tinder and Match Group, says, “Speed dating is accentuated by the pressure of impressing within a limited time.” Clinical psychologist Sonali Gupta says, “Women worry about finding the experience awkward or intimidating.”

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