FB tells me last year on this day I wrapped up 100 Indian Tinder Tales. Like I have said in the past, it changed my life completely. And there was a Tinder burn out, I didn’t want to use the app or hear any more stories. Had been off the app for more than year. But when I came to Delhi, one, I suddenly had 2.5 GB free on my phone and I was also meeting folks at Tinder and decided to download the app to see what has changed. And also check out the ‘maal’ available in the market. So the swiping started. Most of the men started the conversation with,”what’s your name? Which language is that?” My name is in Malayalam on FB. So I replied and this being North India, I also got a lot of, “Wow! You are Tamil?” *face palm*
I also went on my first Tinder date in Delhi. The day started with the auto guy saying, “Aapka din shubh rahe.” Tinder date was among the many interesting things I had planned. I mostly met him because there was so much ‘friendly-pana’ between us and he wanted to get lunch at Andhra Bhavan. What’s not to like. I readily agreed. We had agreed that if I didn’t like him, all I had to do is play with my hair and he would get the hint. This was easy.
So we met at the National Museum so I would have the option of scooting. But I didn’t and we went to the crowded canteen. He ordered mutton curry and I some prawn curry. We finished our lunch and decided to sit around Humayun’s tomb and talk. We swapped many stories like old friends. Suddenly, I felt like I was getting a rash (I usually get it when I super stressed and dabbing rose water / aloe vera helps). It was getting really itchy, so looking at the date, I asked, “Has something bitten me?”
But I knew this was the rash, so we sat on a bench and I calmly looked for aloe vera gel in my bag. While he kept saying, “Call the doctor. It is getting worse. Open your phone and look at yourself.”
I knew he was overreacting. It was just a rash and it would subside. But since he insisted, I called a friend and he said I should meet his father, who is a doctor. So we got into an auto. I could see myself in the auto mirror now but I could barely see what he could. I could see that my neck was red.
Even though he insisted that I look at myself on my phone, I didn’t bother. Instead I told him about the Mastani bai story I heard as a kid, how she was so beautiful, so beautiful and every time she ate paan, her throat turned crimson. And how I always wanted to be as pretty as Mastani bai and now I had the crimson throat. He told me about Rani Padmavati and how pretty she was and every time she drank water, you could see it go down her throat.
After a point, I gave in and looked at my face on my phone, It was completely swollen, almost melting. I could feel the heat. I asked him, “Is it that bad?” He said, “Yes and you are laughing, let’s get down and go to the hospital now.”
Slowly the fear was creeping in, my face was hot as my face was getting more swollen and it was spreading all over my body. A little worried, I asked him if he could see if it had spread to my lower back. He agreed . I picked up my top and he said yeah. Still in denial, I said, “What kinda weird Tinder date is this dude, girl is showing you skin and asking about allergic reaction!” He said how he has never had a normal Tinder date without drama and again suggested we get out and see a random doctor.
Anyway, we reached our destination. He hugged me said I should call him as soon as I see the doctor. I thanked him for his insaniyat. As I reached my friend’s home, I could see from his sister’s face that all was not well. I could barely hear. And I could no more sit straight and I was screaming a bit. But in my mind it was something that would go away with aunty’s rose water mixture. Aunty’s face was so calm, I knew I was alright. (It is only in the night that she told me that she was freaking out.) Plus this was home ground.
Uncle came in, checked my pulse and administered some medicine. He gave me an injection. He hugged me and said, “My dear child, you will be fine soon.” Then he checked my BP. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me, I was still going to do all the things I had planned for the evening so I couldn’t understand why he was saying this. Everyone was so calm around me, I didn’t know there was anything to panic. Had a shower but after that I could barely walk. Uncle checked my BP again, I didn’t know they were freaking out because they looked so calm but apparently my BP had shot down to 50. In the meanwhile I also vomited out all my Andhra Bhavan lunch and then I started to feel really good again.
My friends who were away came back immediately. I couldn’t understand why but didn’t ask. When they came back, they checked my BP again. I was feeling better already. My face and body had come back to normal. Uncle told me, “You can’t have prawns again. Unless you are next to a hospital.” “That’s a tragedy. My mum’s Konju theeyal is one of my favouritest things in the world.”
In the night, I had some national food -khichdi. When we were driving home that’s when I realised how grave the situation was, with the stories I heard. Ignorance is total bliss. I also realised how fortunate, lucky and loved I am.
I am grateful to the Tinder date who was exceptionally kind and compassionate to this complete stranger. I don’t know what I’d do in a situation like this but sticking with me, just laughing, being there and insisting I see a doctor were more than perfect things to do. It almost felt like I had a protective layer around me. And I have known people, mostly men, who want to help but are so scared themselves that they just scoot. Thank you for not doing that and showing that there are other ways of doing this. Whether we meet again or not thank you for reminding me that humanity is not dead. Thank you for having my back! It indeed was a Shubh day and sorry, though I had sworn never to make you a subject, this I had to share