I have always wondered about the concept of online dating. Online matrimony is fine-often perpetrated by well-meaning relatives or friends, like a bio-data search for a practical arranged marriage. But online dating? That’s like a more desperate form of blind dating.

Then there are sites like whatsyourprice.com. It allows people to go for paid dates. Correction. It allows unattractive, anti-social, rich men to pay for dates with attractive women who wouldn’t be seen dead with them otherwise.  ‘You have standards, you can pay for them’ the site proclaims. Mind you, it is not a sex site. The owner, Brandon Wey insists that they use filtering software to weed out professional escorts or prostitutes. Whatever the actual usage, the intent of the site is clear. You have to pay money (around 100 dollars) to get a pretty girl just to go on a date with you.

Really? Thats even more desperate than online dating. Who would be that desperate?

 The site already has 120,000 members and is growing.

Ok. Trying very hard not to judge here.

There have been many times when I have cursed when I was born. I have wished I was born 7 years earlier so that I could let go and enjoy life (translation: eat all the food I want and become a fat, loose-salwar-kameez, white Punju Aunty). I have wished I was born 7 years later so that I wouldn’t be 33.

But at times like these, I am thankful for when I was born. And where I was born.

To all those born in India, around the period of 1975-1982-I call it the Golden window- thank your lucky stars. Go and donate Rs 1001 at your favourite mandir. Shave off your hair at Tirupati. Go on that always-on-the-next-India-trip trek to Vaishnodevi.  Distribute free food to seven beggars. You get the picture.

We are the lucky ones. Born in that magical 7-year window, when the rigid Arranged Marriage structure was crumbling and the modern dating system had not yet emerged from the ruins. We could have a boyfriend-if we wanted to. Our peers didn’t expect it. Our parents didn’t oppose it. If we didn’t have one, no problem,  there was always the Arranged Marriage safety net.

We were the blessed generation of ‘NO PRESSURE’. Take that, all you 23-year-olds!

Things changed so rapidly in the 90’s. When I was in school, ‘boyfriend’ was a fantasy character rumoured to exist only in the alien west. Yet by the time I graduated from college, my 15-year-old cousin confessed that she was going around with a guy she didn’t even like because ‘everyone has a boyfriend’ she scoffed at the ancient-history-at-20 me.

What if I had been born seven years later? Or in some other country?

Let’s see. At 15 I was fat, pimply and very very confused. Hardly a combination that would be high on the TO DO list of any hormonal 15-year-old boy. I have done a lot of things under desperation in school. Like following a popular girl like a hang dog, like making chits of a whole biology text book, like attempting a high jump despite being 15 kgs overweight. But imagine the pressure of not being asked to the prom at 15. Or the even worse, the pressure of going out with another pimply 15-year-old. ‘What do you do together?’ I remember,asking  my cousin.

‘Nothing, we’re always in a group,’ she mumbled. Did i just imagine it or did she look uncomfortable at the memory? Two hormonal, pimply, 15-year-olds stumbling and bumbling their way together under pressure has to be the worst introduction to the dating world. It would scare me off forever.

If school was implausible, then the idea of a boyfriend in college was just ridiculous. Imagine looking for a guy in N.M. College for commerce in Juhu, which was, almost exclusively populated by nerdish, bespectacled girls whose only ambition in life was to do a CA or an MBA. Most of the 20% or so boys in college could not…ahem… be called boys in the complete sense of the word. The few semi-nerd exceptions who got in by accident (or through their parent’s pockets) were to us like pure liquid elixir for starving Somalian children. I can only imagine the pure terror they must have felt about going through the hormonal feline obstacle course everyday.     

The situation was reversed in B-school. A batch of 120 with 20 girls and 100 mostly engineering boys.100 desperately desperate engineering boys. At the time, engineering college hostel’s sex ratio were a dangerous reversal of commerce colleges. That resulted in a generation of desperate young men who, once they passed out, were like raging bulls suddenly exposed to a hundred Chinese flags. Yet, after semesters of seeing adults actuallydrool, clicking your fingers so that they looked at your face and bearing OTT mine-is-bigger-than-yours bragging, persistence paid off. At the end, all twenty of those girls were going around with their batchmates. Which left with 80 ‘leftover’ and even more frustrated boys. 

Of course, most of the relationships broke off soon after we passed out. And I’ll bet it was the once-desperate guys who backed out.

By the time office life started, the pressure gets serious. Now everyone is going around or is in between relationships. Your parents get on your case. All the good boys are taken-unless you want an NRI. And who wants an NRI nowadays?

It’s enough to give anyone the Modern Female Dating Disorder. Soon I would be registering on sites like Indianflirt.com and dating guys who introduce themselves as ‘I’m normally quite modest, but many say that I’m tall, fair, attractive and very very cheeky.’

All those 120,000 members not looking that desperate anymore huh?

Or as my quirky friend  Shwets says, ‘ You have to be desperate to fall in love with someone other than yourself.’