On a Saturday morning, the mood is tense, the tension palpable, and the room is buzzing with chatter.
The girls’ friends and family are gathered around the table, talking about their upcoming blind dates, and some of the older girls are looking a little apprehensive.
Some have come from other cities, and while they know the girls, they don’t know their names.
The mood is sombre, and there’s an air of anticipation.
A group of girls has just left the house for the weekend, and they’re about to meet their date, who’s also from a different city.
The group’s mood is the perfect example of the type of mindset that makes the world feel safe.
“People are really shy about blind dates,” says Akshay Singh, an 18-year-old from Jammu, who has been dating for four months.
“It’s always uncomfortable.
And it’s not really fun for them either.”
Singh has been in love with Akshaya for about a year now.
“We’ve been together for three months now, but we never really talked about our feelings, we never talked about the past, and it was never really an open conversation.
So, when Akshayan finally told me, I was just like, I’m so happy for you, I’ve been waiting for this day.”
Singham says he felt the first time they were dating, the first day they met, they were both scared, unsure, and unsure of what to expect.
But they both found each other so beautiful, and were both very open to each other’s emotions.
“I was like, okay, this is something I really need to get to know you,” Singh says.
He’s been in a similar position ever since.
“There’s this pressure I’ve felt before, when I was younger.
But I was really nervous.
So it was definitely a learning experience for me.”
Singhal Singh, Akshays mother, says that her daughter has come to see blind dates as a rite of passage.
“When we were younger, we were really scared of meeting a guy who had a different background, so we always told ourselves we would never have a boyfriend or boyfriends,” she says.
“Now, it’s very easy for me to see her as a new person, and we’re getting along really well.”
Singha, a student at a local college, says she also feels connected to her daughter’s journey, which is something she’s never felt before.
“She’s been dating a guy for a long time, and she has a boyfriend, but she never met another person like me.
So I think she has always had this secret, that she has her blind date,” she said.
“For the first two days, I didn’t know how to react.
I was so nervous.
I thought she might be afraid.
But then, she told me she was really happy for me and really open to my feelings.”
Singhe, who is now a student of English Literature at the college, feels she’s been able to build a connection with her daughter and has even helped her learn to communicate.
“So, when she asks me what I like to watch, I’ll say whatever she wants to say, and then she’ll say something that she likes,” she explains.
“And then we’ll watch movies together.”
The next day, the girls are ready to go, and soon the crowd is buzzing.
Singh, the oldest, is a bit nervous about the experience, but Akshaye is excited about the prospect of a new adventure.
“My favourite thing about blind dating is seeing someone’s true self,” she states.
“They’re not just looking for a date, they’re looking for love.”
Singhi adds that while she doesn’t think her daughter is going to date many guys in the near future, she is planning to make some new friends and meet some new people.
“Her first date will be at least five years from now, so I’m not really planning on going out with her just yet,” she adds.
But as for the other girls in their group, they are all very excited to be part of the experience.
“Our whole focus is to go out and meet as many people as we can,” says Singh.
“But I also think we need to talk to each others friends, and get to meet our real selves.
It’s not just the date, it should be a new life for us.”