You've Got Mate!

It’s no longer “des­per­ate” to look on­line for love. Or even sex. Dat­ing sites and apps are all the rage now. But do they de­liver on what they prom­ise?

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - Front Page - Text by Satarupa Paul & Asad Ali. Il­lus­tra­tions by Ut­tam Sinha

The In­dian dat­ing cir­cuit has re-wired its pri­or­i­ties. Some want love, some lust, some both. Now there’s a slew of web­sites and apps that of­fer tai­lor-made ro­mance. So go ahead. Click, swipe, fall in love

hree win­dows are open in Nikhil Varma’s browser. His Gmail, a shop­ping por­tal and a dat­ing web­site. “I want the shoes to have ex­actly six Vel­cro straps, an­kle-length with a short zip at the back-heel,” states Varma, 30, a Delhi-based free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher. He’s been try­ing to lo­cate just the right pair of shoes for him­self on­line, with lit­tle suc­cess. “Looks like love is eas­ier to find,” he says with a wink, as he looks at the list of vis­i­tors to his on­line dat­ing pro­file.

An in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple in In­dia are turn­ing to web­sites and mo­bile apps that have taken over the re­spon­si­bil­ity of find­ing true love, or lust, for thou­sands of their users. OkCupid, for in­stance, one of the most popular dat­ing web­sites in the world to­day, has made its pres­ence felt in In­dia too. In terms of per­cent­age of users, Alexa – the US-based company that pro­vides Web traf­fic data – puts In­dia at sixth place over­all for OkCupid us­age. Tin­der, which was launched in 2012 and has over 10 mil­lion ac­tive users world­wide, has also seen a steady stream of In­dian pro­files. There are on­line dat­ing spa­ces geared to­wards the gay com­mu­nity as well – Grindr and Plan­etRomeo. Back home, a num­ber of In­dian start-ups have also de­cided to play on­line Cupid. Truly Madly, is one such ex­am­ple, Woo is another. Be­fore you start off about cheesy spam mes­sages that were a given on dat­ing web­sites, at least till around the ’90s, the cur­rent crop of dat­ing sites en­sure that need­less vul­gar­ity is kept at bay. Hitesh Dhin­gra, co-founder of Truly Madly, says, “There was a time when any­one could mes­sage any­body. A lot of women nat­u­rally stayed away from on­line dat­ing be­cause of that.” Now, on most apps, a user will only re­ceive mes­sages from some­one he/ she has also ‘liked’. “So the chances of get­ting un­de­sir­able mes­sages from ran­dom peo­ple are min­i­mal, which is great for the fe­male user base,” Dhin­gra says. And if any chat gets creepy, you can sim­ply un­match the per­son – sort of like walk­ing out of a real con­ver­sa­tion in a bar. If you don’t like it, you end it and never see the per­son again.

Tanvi Jain, a Delhi-based free­lance Web de­signer, thinks that the whole no­tion of meet­ing a stranger at a party some­where, start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion and promptly de­cid­ing to go on a date is a bit dated. “I think a lot of us are nos­tal­gic about that ro­man­tic cliche but it doesn’t fit in our world any­more. It’s more nat­u­ral now to talk to somebody on­line. We’re al­ways logged in.” To get a fair idea of the me­chan­ics of some of the most popular sites/apps right now, here’s a low­down for ready ref­er­ence. So go ahead and play the field! satarupa.paul@hin­dus­tan­times.com Follow @sataru­papaul on Twit­ter asad.ali@hin­dus­tan­times.com Follow @AsadAli1989 on

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