10 Jun 2016
7 min read
As if prancing around with a list of close to 50 matches wasn’t good enough, I put a few theories to the test by deciding to ‘like’ 10 choices with no criteria save for the person being the next profile in the stack. Even if I wasn’t won over by the photos or info made available, curiosity compelled me to see how I would score.
Unfortunately I cannot brag a perfect 10; however, I can flip my hair, offer a coy smile, and reveal my match rate of 9/10. And, in case you’re wondering, the one guy I didn’t match with was a gentlemen well in his 60s so that’s all we’ll say about that. (Side note: I do have another match who is 70 and I am quite looking forward to meeting him!)
The natural assumption to make here would be that I am so good looking I make Scarlett Johansson seem like Gollum in comparison to the appeal I exude. Sadly, just her voice is sexier than I could ever hope to be, and so I’ll let you in on my theory of why I’m such a wanted woman (at least on Tinder).
Besides the fact that men tend to like far more profiles than women, my Tinder appears to attract a fair amount of attention simply because there are a rather limited number of women on the app and an even smaller number are from these parts. Why? The answer is easy: They are Nepali, and they are women.
When you belong to those specific categories, an application like Tinder would be considered highly inappropriate. No ‘decent’ girl would be out looking for men like this! No, no, no, in Nepali society we are expected to be Satya Savitris— a woman of beauty and great virtue, whose most praiseworthy attribute
The Nepali women is her death-defying devotion to her husband. We are raised as buharis-inthe- making, primed and prepped with cups of chiya on trays to be lifelong maids of another household. Tinder is no place for the likes of us.
Of course, I am making sweeping generalisations, and there are (obviously) exceptions to the rule (such as yours truly). Regardless of a woman’s concern over being (or not being) a bride, Tinder presents other challenges in our society. The biggest one, naturally, is the potential of being recognised and the ever so present danger of “but what will people say.”
Tinder has this little feature where it shows you people you or other Tinder users may have in common. I suppose in other parts of the world this offers some degree of safety, security and the option of asking a mutual connection about a match. In Nepal, and Kathmandu in particular, your carefully constructed image of a ‘good girl’ is put at risk. Although I’m crass, shameless and nearly impossible to embarrass, even I find myself wary of profiles where we know many (or any) of the same people.
In all fairness, a portion of my trepidation is because I am writing this column, and my matches/dates don’t know they contribute content to ‘The Tinder Games’. (Okay, there was that one guy I confessed to, and it ended up being one of my favourite dates!) My reasons for maintaining anonymity and using a pseudonym are further evidence of the stigmas women are subject to. If you want the truth, there have been matches where I’ve been recognised (as my real-life self) for a range of reasons. Only in a city like this could someone you don’t know, know you. It’s part of the beauty of Kathmandu, and it’s a curse too. It’s also inevitable on Tinder, and therefore those risks are real and worth worrying about.
If people from certain circles found out I was exploring Tinder, if they knew I was writing so openly andbluntly about this experience, I have no doubt about the degree of damage this would invite upon my reputation, and ultimately the judgment it would incur on my parents and family. How would I be able to defend myself when deemed a ‘loose woman’ with questionable morals? How could I handle speculation on the quality of my character? How can I maintain face in light of society’s expectations and the clear disappointment I would be to those I love?
Taking this into consideration, is it so hard to believe how many men have the same complaint regarding the significantly lower number of women available on the Kathmandu edition of Tinder. In most conversations, I ask the men about their experience,and the answer has become predictable, (it’s “limited,” it’s more fun in other countries “because, you know”). The statistics one guy gave me is as follows: About 10-15 profiles appear,about half or a little more are liked, of those one might turn into a match. Very few of those matches are with women of the Nepali variety.
For some reason, even as I write this, the pieces don’t seem to fit. How can a Nepali woman, in Nepal, be a novelty in her own country because of those two definitive attributes? In a nationwhere Nepali women are the most abundant, they morph into something exotic on a place like Tinder. The mostrare of these creatures are certainly Nepali women who are bisexual or lesbian. Oh my, the scandal. But would it be nearly as gossip-worthy or damaging if it were men who are married, men who are in their golden years, and boys who have a long ways to go before being men? I think we all know the answer to that one, but there’s another day to delve into that.