By Sagar Malik

Looking at Delhi from the outside, all you see are cliques. Neat, geometrically aligned shapes: a circular arrangement of chairs on the lawns at Gymkhana, rectangular throngs around bartops in the village, a hotboxed car in a hexaoctatraingular parking space. These cliques share history. They have anecdotes from summer holidays to fall upon, and fond memories of evenings that they spent by the pool, while groups of parents sat in the gardens that kids weren’t allowed to play in. They went to school together, smuggled in firecrackers in their backpacks and ate lunches on staircases. They attended weddings, and in Delhi, a wedding can tie many things together, except possibly a marriage. {Hello! I’ll be here all week, please tip your server!}

These cliques overlap and evolve, sure, and sometimes go from incestuous to inclusive to impromptu during the course of a single evening. But those shapes remain true, and you see no jagged edges. Delhi isn’t an easy city to meet new people in, not that seamlessly integrating into a new social circuit is an easy task anywhere else. There are quirks to recognise, flaws to forgive, and the necessity of a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm about meeting new people and possibly liking them.

While in the existential throes of this realisation some months ago, I read about Tinder – a matchmaking app that shows you pictures of people near you, and whatever mutual interests you share on Facebook {for me, usually it’s Humans of New York, Word Porn and Alok Nath Memes}. You can swipe right to indicate you like someone, and left to indicate not. When two people swipe right on each other’s pictures, Tinder opens up a chat window.

First of all, that’s friggin’ genius. Or that’s what I thought when I first read about it. I still think that’s true, though I’ve now learned that another app predates Tinder, one that lets you swipe your Facebook friends’ pictures {if they download and use the app}, but it was called ‘Bang with Friends’. As you can imagine, that has a much more specific focus. Anyway, that app is no more, whereas Tinder won TechCrunch’s Startup of the year last year.

I’ve been met with a few raised eyebrows when I narrate my adventures with Tinder, and understandably so. Anything even closely resembling online dating has an undeserving bad name. In the movies, it’s usually the old spinster who goes to, while her cats assemble around her and someone on the radio croons an 80’s ballad. But the old spinster usually has a perfect beach body under grandma’s clothes, and just needed more confidence, better lighting, and participation in a montage about buying new shoes. She then discards the shame of the internet and goes after Steve Carrell or Jason Bateman or that other guy from that thing who was in the thing.

Anyway, there are now over 600 million swipes a day, and 6 million matches. You wouldn’t expect many of these to be in Delhi, but I see a couple of dozen new profiles every time I logon – which is now every other day. I’ve had an evening with a lovely American architect: we went to PCO and argued about why seafood shouldn’t go in tacos {trust me, it shouldn’t} and later joined my friends for drinks. Another involved a surreal evening with a philosophy student, where I kept getting the distinct feeling she was asking questions that needed to be filed in a report of some sort.

Giving both Tinder and my theory about the difficulties of meeting new people credence, Tinder’s celebrity users include Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cam on Modern Family, Lily Allen, Lindsay Lohan {who isn’t really helping this point, but still}, and Ashton Kutcher. It was reportedly all the rage at the Olympic Village in Sochi, too. I was once matched with Rachel Zane {from the TV show Suits}, but that was a marketing gimmick, and a damned good one at that. The Mindy Project has also used the app to advertise, as has Dominos. I imagine they must’ve had the cheesiest lines.

I’ve used Tinder when I’m travelling to find people to watch football with, get a drink with, and be shown around. I discovered some ridiculously good kebabs this way {side note: kebab is not a euphemism}, and went cycling with a blogger who had nearly fifty thousand subscribers on her youtube channel. A colleague’s friend has been dating someone she met on Tinder nearly a year ago. Ultimately, Tinder’s letting itself be whatever you make of it.

I think there’s a lesson somewhere in there.

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