Now see, Tinder is no cakewalk. For the uninitiated, it's a high-intensity, competitive war zone. It is peopled by 'sapiosexual', 'wine-lover', 'avid reader', 'passionate globetrotter', 'budding photographer', 'tennis nut', 'part-time poet', 'coffee brewer', 'yogi', 'dreamer', 'nature hugger', 'big foodie', 'world cinema aficionado'.
And that's ONE person.
So, if you are a person of limited talents, Tinder is no better than the engineering entrance exams your parents made you take even though you could only memorise one chemical formula. And that was the one for water.
However, since Tinder is also skilfully in touch with desi realities, it is ever ready to help. First, it brought you 'maa ka aashirvaad' to help you wade through people 'livin lyf kingsze' despite the state of their spellings. And now, it has got you Tinder Social.
It works like this: Tinder asks a user if he/she wants you to activate Social. If you click on yes, it asks you to form a group and shows you your friends on Tinder. If you are a good bully like me, you can actually harangue friends who are in different cities to pretend to 'hang out'. Now that you have a group - you can choose to declare what you are upto. There are existential names like 'working out', rhyming ones like 'Sunday Funday' or organic ones that say, 'party at the rooftop bar'. Choose one. And, you are ready socialise. So instead of swiping on one person, you can swipe right on groups of people.
Before detractors cry 'orgyyyy', please consider the potential for sanskaar in this. You can actually hang out with mom and dad on Tinder. Too bad, 'samosa lijiye naa' isn't an activity Tinder Social offers in the list yet.
Since my parents are having a difficult time tolerating Facebook, I let them nurse their social media scars and instead got friends to help socialise. One a Bangalore-based corporate executive - let's call him S. One a Kolkata based journalist - P. Both great looking men and gay. After the initial disappointment that we couldn't customise our 'activity' to 'chalo ishq ladaye', we settled for 'let's party', since it was the only option closest to human speech as we knew it.
Between the three of us, we now had four foreign countries we had travelled. Not many, but closer to Tinder staples of 30, 177, half a million, than zero. Must mention here, the journalists had no contribution in that upgrade. We - the journalists - on the other hand, could somewhat cover 'dreamer' and 'part-time poet' (we would just need Facebook to show us status updates from 2007 as evidence). We have occasionally mixed instant coffee with milk, so, coffee brewer, check. And oh, I am I very convincing beer pitcher hugger - so, yeah, we also can claim to hug something as a talent.
With our vastly improved portfolio, we were now a dating force with some reckoning. Alter egos of Benedict Cumberbatch who look like Fawad Khan, crawl out of the algorithm already!
Or so I thought.
Quite a few groups of people in Delhi were celebrating 'beach day'. Since I have no such special feelings for the Yamuna or its stench, I swiped left on them, my love for beaches notwithstanding. But soon, reality hit me. Tinder showed me boy groups who have possibly ridden bikes to Jupiter and back and have also created laptops from the scratch. They quote Rumi and Sherlock, they play the guitar, they cuddle cats, they have big dogs fawning over them, they casually lean on fancy cars and drink beer and they are surrounded by beautiful women with perfectly blow-dried hair in parties. How are we supposed to 'hang out' with these people? We don't own a cycle between the three of us and I can only confidently quote from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.
Fine, I'll still swipe right on them. Big deal. I had even sat for CAT.
A couple of these groups have a woman or two with them. Maybe, they are bored and need some girl talking to do? Since I am kind and considerate, I swipe right.
Twenty minutes, 10 right swipes, zero match. What's that again? It's not like I have posed with a drugged tiger or have my height as my profile description. That's a Tinder apocalypse unfolding right on my smartphone!
That's when I remind myself, my two cute, funny and dating-site friendly friends haven't had much success either.
"We are like the back-up dancers in Baby Doll, haha," I message them.
Oh, what's that? A match? And two, three, so many!
Yay! But hey, who are these guys? Cute alright, but I don't remember seeing them. Oh, yes, sure. These are folks P and S have matched with.
There are some fun conversations. With folks from Bangalore and some from Kolkata. Maybe some socialising is in order, who knows? I need to get that Netflix account recharged and sleep. (It's not a great literary trope to say 'hmph', so I won't.)
Morning next day: Tinder says my group has expired.
"That was awkward. But funny, no?" S messages.
"Well, at least, I know what Farida Jalal's character must have felt like in all Shah Rukh Khan films."