Speed Dating

I’m not sure how many are willing to share their speed dating stories but it could make for some fun reading.  If you don’t fancy sharing your name, although I encourage it, then there is a way to anonymously comment.  For the sake of autonomy and preference, I refer to non-friendship type of meets with the opposite sex as dating – I appreciate that other words are more appropriate to people (“rishta meets”, “business lunch”, “staying the night” etc) so you’re free to use what you want.

 

I should also say, I’m not here to turn any dating/rishta stories into a major negativity rant.  The world of dating is hard enough without being told by people who’ve never had to do it that “online is full of weirdos” or “dating events just don’t work”.  I disagree with both statements as someone who has seen others succeed in both!  The reason I probably write about these topics is to remind each other that we’re not alone, have a laugh at our experiences, enjoy them when we can and perhaps at times talk publicly about behaviours which are beyond acceptable.

 

Nearly every singleton (and some married folk, eww) are on some sort of online dating app.  Towards the end of last year, tiring of the technology world after a couple catfish incidents, a friend encouraged me to sign up to a speed dating event with her.  A little uncertain, thinking I know the male Glasgow population but reminded by my friend that I most certainly don’t, I bought myself a ticket.  The event was aimed at Muslim singletons. No age limits (that made me slightly nervous) but a promise of equal numbers.  I decided to go in positive – it would be nice to have real time conversations!

 

The atmosphere was pretty relaxed – the host did a good job of breaking the ice and explaining the setup.  I assumed it would be a “first dates” type of situation except that I wouldn’t have to sit with one person the entire time and an inkling that I wouldn’t get as fancy a meal as the first dates restaurant.  I was somewhat delighted that we had a Brummie “Fred” as our host, slightly less charming but nevertheless lovely.  It turned out it was three blokes to three lassies with the guys rotating around each table – not what I had pictured at all. Thereafter if anyone was interested then the one to one’s took place (I sniggered thinking it reminded me of the broom cupboard in school).  My mate had found her other friend (did she know the setup all along?) and we all sat together.  Atleast there would be some banter if it got really cringe.

 

Cue the first rotation, one bloke sauntered upto our table.  In a normal dating situation there’s a fine line between interrogation and casual questions; when there’s three women sat across one bloke, it feels impossible.  He chatted about his sci-fi interests and the difficulties of finding someone in this day and age – nice enough bloke.  Cue second rotation, two men across from us, the first trying his hardest to make sure we knew he wasn’t friends with the second; second bloke who, perhaps nervous, was acting like he had snorted a bagful of something in the toilets.  That went a little easier, number one touched upon travelling which got me started on my own little experiences with ‘wired to the moon’ interjecting here and there.  Third rotation, one bloke again and at this point, it started to feel a touch degrading – the bloke was lovely, trying to hold some polite conversation about his work however I couldn’t help but feel it was becoming slightly cattle market-ish.

 

As it went on, it became clear that there definitely weren’t equal numbers.  A quick count afterwards showed there to be 36 women to 17 men – explains why they had to spread them out so thinly!  We’re also pretty sure some of the men were the organisers who perhaps embarrassed by the last minute realisation of low numbers had forced some of their single helpers to participate.  Having probably been lured up with the promise of free food and Irn Bru, I felt a bit sorry for them – not that sorry though, I’d paid money to attend this thing.  Mama was promised men.

 

Although the blokes were nice enough, they were young!  There was adorable Saj.  A 21 year old gent in the making who we all found delightful and who, in turn, decided we would be the ones to garner some life advice from.  There we sat, quite the wise sophisticated ladies we are listening to Saj’s love woes before sending him off with some gems of wisdom.  Surely kids at university don’t need help hooking up……..do they?  Go stalk someone at the Saltire centre, Cale Uni, you’re welcome (may have been one of my gems to Saj, never said it was good advice).

 

To me, other than the cattle market issue, the event at times felt like I was prowling at the school gates – I don’t feel a connection with younger men, a silver fox does me fine.  Sadly, there weren’t many of them.  Out of the two there, one clearly didn’t want to be sitting at our table – pretended he’d already spoken to us and sauntered off to join another table.  He was never to be seen again – until the end when he complained to the organisers nobody wanted to talk to him.

 

On the part of the guys, it must have been nerve wracking – one bloke sitting across three hot women, there was much sweating.  But for the most part they did well; were polite, one or two perhaps a little bat shit crazy but the rest pretty normal.  Next came the one to ones.  It was like being picked for school teams all over again.  I didn’t request a chat with anyone and vice versa but I decided to hang about while my friends went into their broom cupboards.  This is where alcohol no doubt comes in handy but being Muslim, I made do with a plate of gulab jamin.  “Awwww, I would’ve picked you Fai!”, I’m told as I re-tell this story to a friend…….I highly doubt it if you’d seen the rate I was wolfing those bad boys down.

 

Numbers were exchanged between people with promises of future meetups.  One of the girls told us that there was an initial polite message but it never went any further (it was Saj! We taught you better than that!).  Did many meet up afterwards or was it a case of taking numbers but never actually taking it anywhere?  Feedback from the event (I’d demolished the gulab jamins by this stage so had to find someone to talk to) was that many of the women had come looking for something more serious but felt most of the men were just there for a bit of fun (basically tinder then?).  If you were one of the blokes at this thing then feel free to give me your view!

 

I do know of one woman however who has been talking to her bloke seriously for a while so there must have been some successes.  I may have an update as I’m meeting some of the girls for a catchup this week (lack of men but some very cool women there who I became friends with…….maybe this is where I go wrong?).  As a first time speed dater, I wouldn’t knock it – it would have been an okay setup if they had organised numbers better and by far the least cringe situation I’ve been in!

 

Post about the online world will follow in the near future so save those babies and don’t spill them yet.  But do share if you have any gems from speed dating!

 

14 Replies to “Speed Dating”

  1. So after much deliberation (and a bit of persuasion from Fai!) I’ve eventually put pen to paper (or should it be fingers to keyboard) to share my experience.

    Lets rewind to 2013, (the year when being addicted to Candy Crush was the done thing), picture my friend and I sitting in her car after a decent brunch, having one of those memorable heart to hearts. She mentions a muslim matrimonial event coming up and would love for me to go along with her for moral support. I agreed, thinking what could be the most I need to do apart from chaperoning her and helping her vet a potential future husband – I felt honoured! She threw a gentle hint in that maybe something good could come out of it for me too. Not thinking much of it, I agreed.

    My friend was told there would be a cost of £25 per singleton, there would be bunch of single muslim guys and girls present with the objective being to network and exchange phone numbers with those you show interest in. Parents were allowed to come along, and light refreshments would be provided. I relayed the same spiel to my mum when justifying where I was going to be and whom with. Needless to say, mum wasn’t convinced that the event sounded “Halal” and before you know it, the conversation got heated (I’m sure mother/daughter arguments about marriage is one we could leave for another blog altogther!). And off I went, out the front door wearing a frown, feeling annoyed at my situation and wondering how many more chai and samosa servings I’d have to go through until I meet “the one”. How many more strangers will sit in my living room and ferociously judge my humble four walls, how much more humiliation will I need to go through. Considering at that time, I was only a few years away from reaching the big three-oh, my frustration soon turned into determination and I decided to play a double role.

    We arrived at the venue, and my friend out of sheer nervousness asked if she looks ok. Telling her “you look lovely babe, everything will be ok – you’ve got nothing to lose!” was in fact the same chant I whispered to myself for the next few hours.

    After the organisers mulled around, took everyones details (and more importantly for them, the monies!), the event finally kicked off. The structure was not what I had imagined…a room full of 20 men siting in a semi circle around the huge hall, with an empty chair infront of them. The next few hours panned out like so; the guy and girl would have a one-to-one chat for 3 mins. Each person was given a bunch of flash cards from which you were required to write the name of the person you spoke to and tick one of out three boxes titled “yes”, “no” and “maybe”. A bell/ringer would go off once the time was up and the girl would get up and move clockwise to the next empty chair. Echoing what Fai and a few other girls already mentioned, there was no way the ratio from men to woman was equal. There were around 25 women to 15 men, so for those not able to join the conveyor belt from the beginning had more time to be nervous.

    Some might say 3 minutes is not long enough to get to know one another, but trust me when I say, at times even 1 minute is too long when the conversation is so parched!

    Now onto the type of men I met….a wee disclosure before I continue – anything I say below is not intended to categorise or judge anyones appearances/professions etc. in any way at all. This is only based on my own experiences.

    The mummy’s boy – the venue in question had an open upstairs area where the mothers hung about. A perfect location for them to look down at the main hall and prey on their future son/daughter-in-law. This dude seemed nice and well mannered but soon into the conversation it was obvious that he was on his best behaviour because he was being watched by Big Mother…I could hear the voice-over in my head already; “You are live on Channel 4, please do not swear”.

    The taxi driver(s) – nearly a quarter of the men at the event were taxi drivers (nearly all from Edinburgh), and were happy to share some of their Friday/Saturday night sightings. Great banter, but that was all.

    The one thats been around – this chap was all smiles when I approached him, almost too friendly and went straight in with “Salaam, how you doing stranger?, What are the chances of meeting again eh?” With an obvious confused look on my face, I questioned if we had met before, only to soon realise that he was confusing me with my sister! I kept that vital information to myself and went along with convincing him that I didn’t know who he was talking about.

    The clingy one – I’m not one to take compliments very well, so being told I looked younger in age, and being praised a million times for coming out my comfort zone to attend this event was a shock to the system. As much as we can look at these as being nice mannerisms, something didn’t feel quite right. Was he just saying things that he thinks girls want to hear? The funniest/creepiest part was when time was up, he looked right at me and whispered “awww….please don’t go!” *cringe!*

    The stutter – So the next bloke was probably (in my eyes) the best looking and best dressed out of the bunch. I’m not going to lie, I was ready to tick that “yes” box straight away! Within the first few seconds I got the impression that he was nervous, taking his time to think about what he was going to say and really concentrating on his pronunciation, soon to realise that he had a stutter. Despite that, the banter was spot on and he was close to meeting most of my personal preferences (well educated, good respectable job, well travelled etc.etc.). Secretly hoping I had made a good impression in return, I moved onto the next empty chair…

    No English please – this bhai-saab was evidently not British born, he had been in the Uk for just under a year and was not afraid to admit that he was looking for a wife to fulfil his dream of securing that red passport. His first words to me where “sorry English mein ajeeb lagta hai, only Urdu or punjabi please. I went along with it, thinking och I’ve got this, I’m comfortably fluent (I have an A-level in Urdu may I add!), but for some odd reason I was making a complete halva out of my sentences!

    The wandering eyes – the next guy was a complete Casanova (or so he thought!). Dressed like Johnny Bravo, I didn’t have his full attention. I knew straight away the hijab was an issue. Low and behold, his next victim was to be a lovely pretty looking non-hijabi and I kid you not, he didn’t even wait for me get my back side off that seat for him to start the cheesy chat and giggles with the next girl!

    By the end of what felt like a 7 hour continuous interview, I went home in a complete daze and a thumping head. The organisers got in touch after a few days to give me a run down on how many hearts I won….the grand total of *cue droll roll*….ONE! Haha! Any guesses on who it was?

    What I concluded from the event was that more than half the men attending were not from Glasgow – not ideal for someone like me who isn’t looking to relocate. The set up and structure of the event wasn’t very comfortable for some girls, being made to feel like we are put on show for glaring eyes to scan and take a sneaky swatch. I’m not exactly the shy and timid type myself yet even I found myself clutching onto my hijab making sure I was modestly protected from the pervy-ness.

    Do I regret it? Most certainly not, I love the fact that I can think back at it and laugh at the experience (and learn so much from it). Also the fact that if it wasn’t for going to such a cringe-worthy event, I wouldn’t have made a special friend in particular (who is now happily married Mash’Allah), she’s has a genuine heart of gold and make sincere du’aa for me all the time.

    5 years on and the soulmate searching continues….

    1. I’m glad you felt able to share, although I’ve got to say, clearly my experience was in no way unique!! Why did nobody warn me about this beforehand? Fellow speed daters to be, perhaps take note! So if I’ve got this right, you lot whizzed up and down conveyor belt style?? But because of number deficit, some blokes at the end just sat playing on their phones for a while?

      Eh and hold on here, who was your one heart?? I want to go with the bloke that made you speak Urdjabi! Only because I can imagine your A level mad skills would’ve impressed lolxx

  2. Ah where to begin! I have been to many, far and wide, in the quest of a decent guy who can make me laugh. Not too much to ask is it?

    Lets start with positives…the guys in England turn up ….albeit they usually look at you suspiciously and ask why you’ve travelled to England…and then quickly decide long distance sounds like too much of a hassle…

    Which brings me to nicely to my next point….Scottish guys dont turn up!

    The last event I braved following an absence on the scene for many years and foolishly being half convinced that ‘times have moved on and things have changed’ was enough to put me off again!

    The event started late. Not because the organisers wernt ready. But on arrival there was a sea of women and i could count the number of guys on one hand, two at the most. The usual regulars were there. The ones you saw a decade ago when you were both in your twenties….and neither of you were still interested.

    After an hour standing around, my friends and I had went to sit in the comfy lobby seats and upon realising the event was finally starting, the last few of us headed towards the hall. We were stopped at the door by the organiser who with an air of desparation tried to dissuade us from going in, offering us 2, then 3 months free trial on his matchmaking website in exchange. It became clear the reason why. Men turned up, he explained, but they left from the car park and didnt come in. This sounds ridiculous but it wasnt the first time I had heard it and so actually believed it. It turns out this is the MO of the Glaswegian Asian male. They sit in their cars and either ‘check out the talent first’ or see someone they know and scarper. Yes, grown men.

    My friend was having none of it. ‘We are here’ she challenged, ‘so we might as well go in’. The rest of us followed suit. The set up was much like you described, groups of males (2 or 3) rotating around groups of females (5 or 6) with set irrelevant discussion topics.

    There were the guys you feared you would be cradle robbing, the guy whose mate translated for him because he didnt speak English and we didn’t speak Arabic and the English bloke I recognised as having made several attempts over the years to connect online. The one to ones reminded me of being in Argos. You watched the screen and if your number showed up you went to the one to one seating area. I decided to give the online guy a chance seeing as he had made more than one attempt in the past. His first question was would I move to Derby because he couldn’t move here unless I wanted him to be a house husband. Needless to say I never heard from him again!

    To end on a positive note…at least none of the guys looked half cut this time….yes there was the time a guy turned up… reeking of alcohol…at a muslim rishta event…in Glasgow.

    The search continues…..not in a speed dating hall with an argos type screen!

    1. Sovee! Thanks for leaving a comment about your experience. Ugh times really haven’t changed at all then. Re your half cut bloke – I’m starting to wonder if I was being too kind by saying he was nervous and quite possibly wired to the moon was a touch high! Shocked at the car park viewings that were going on!!! Whaaaaaat! I really have no interest in trying another one so kudos to you for being a glutton for punishment and trying again!! Xx

  3. The vibe and friendships between the girls there was what made this event not a total waste for me. Also the mothers of, mostly the boys tbh, sitting threateningly glaring at the girls their sons were talking to was not cool lol. I found that boys who exchanged information just to not reply once texted/ emailed were horrible. You’re already putting yourself out there and I don’t feel like the guys were respecting that. Anyway, maybe it would’ve been different with a different mix of people!

    1. Interesting, it was the same for me, I ended up meeting loads of cool women there but not so much men – for me, it was to do with age though. I think having an open group means you’ve got such a disparity in ages between people.

  4. I went once and ended up meeting one of my clients!! Not good! ‘Yeah you represented me in a domestic…’ 😯

    1. Noooooo!!! Horror. Did you sit with him the whole time and discuss his misdemeanours? More to the point, Did he think you guys might have a chance?? Xx

      1. Yeah the next day you had to pick your matches online and he picked me! I was like ‘Hell no!’

        1. Haha brilliant!!! You clearly made an impression in the court room!! Xx

  5. Love this and love that you take time to talk about things openly – looking forward to more!!! My story, I have had similar speed dates setup by a “Glasgow matchmaker” who runs these events but sorry, they are not as advertised. And I think just there to take advantage of people’s financial and single circumstances!!!

    1. Thanks for your comment. I have a feeling you may have started something with this comment. Interested to hear more or I have a feeling other people may be able to relate to what you’re talking about and have their own stories to share! xx

  6. the one to ones reminded you of the broom cupboard at school?? What kanjar khanna school did you go to??

    1. Haha, the same one as you but my first school was a lot less dignified (and more fun) than the high school!

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