Call me naiive but when I read Imperial College graduate that worked in London over a decade, loved Wimbledon and had a Brit passport, I imagined a male version of myself with a posh accent and a shared love for fish and chips. I was sorely disappointed.
When he came to Starbucks, I noted immediately, to my relief, that he was nice-looking and like many online dating profiles before him, short and slightly older-looking than his pictures. He had rimless glasses – boys, don’t wear these, they don’t flatter anyone and they make you look older! He wore a powder-blue fitted shirt with grey wool pants and are you ready for this? a sweater thrown over his shoulders. Douchebag alert!
I leaned forward for the customary two-pecks-one-on-each-cheek greeting (he’s Western-educated for fuck’s sake) but failed miserably as Indian dude awkwardly lunged for a sideways hug which ended up in him squarely bumping hard into my left boob. An elegant start to a beautiful romance, I am sure. He actually apologised for that.
I didn’t like that he hadn’t yet picked a place for us to go to, let alone make a reservation. I tend to like decisiveness and organization in myself, my friends and the men I want/hope to date. We walked to Red Bar and asked for a table inside. The waitress informed us that tables were for patrons ordering food, not drinks only (understandable as there’s literally scores of tables outside which are free). My valient date said “No, that’s fine, we’re definitely not ordering food”. Why, that’s just great, why don’t we continue this fantastically awkward walk in a neighbourhood where I am guaranteed to bump into people I know a little longer? Surely, it would be way better than oh I don’t know ordering a fucking plate of fries and securing a nice table in a nice restaurant. Cheapskate.
We went into H-one which was hosting a private event before ultimately ending up at Isobar (my favourite pizza place in Hong Kong and spoiler alert: I did not get to eat pizza, I went home and made dinner while cursing under my breath). He spent forever and a day gazing through the menu before ordering a glass of white wine. The waitress who was losing her patience, just as I was, said she’d come back later but no, he asked her to wait alongside him while he pondered this lifechanging decision a little longer. I ordered a blackberry mojito. And he, after such deliberation, ordered a white wine. But before we even got to the menus, let alone the actual drinks, we had been talking about him having been offered a job in Singapore and literally as I sat down and adjusted my dress, he said “So would you consider moving to Singapore?”
Would I what?! Listen mate, we literally just met and I literally don’t know you from Adam. Even given the circumstances of arranged matrimony that we are meeting under, this question is wildly premature and borderline offensive. Needless to say, I was stunned by the question and fumbled a bit before finally saying that I had lived there 8 years and would need a very strong reason to go back because Hong Kong was way better.
Thankfully the conversation progressed to less controversial topics like work. Like any banker before or after him, he bragged about his job and how it allowed him to focus on India and travel to India. Yes, we get it, you love India as evidenced by your BRITISH passport. We talked about the buyside and I mentioned my CFA pursuit in order to make my move to the buy side. This somehow turned into him ranting about the relevance of the CFA institute and the degree and how he thought it was all quite useless compared to getting an MBA. So of course I quite faux-innocently said “you know quite a bit about the CFA, you must have considered taking it at some point and decided not to?”
“Well, I took level 1 and 2 but I failed level 2 and decided not to pursue it”
Ah. What’s that story with the fox that’s trying to jump up to get the fruit in the tree?
Before I go on, I must say that we all have our lifestyle choices and I really ought to respect peoples’ choices in regard to food and wine but I am mean and bitchy so just go with me on this, okay? Okay.
He is a vegetarian. This does surprise me because I have gone on physical dates with exactly two Indian men through the Great Indian Arranged Marriage Network and while both claimed to be vegetarian/nondrinkers on their profiles, they couldn’t have been further from that declaration. One of them ordered octopus and the other ate a steak before my eyes and they both drank copiously. Not this guy here! Nosiree, he was really a vegetarian. In all fairness, I love vegetarian and vegan food and most of what I cook is vegan. I told him so. In turn he told me how he always prefers to get domestic help to cook for him as cooking is something one does with another person and cooking for oneself by oneself is sad and pathetic. Oh no he didn’t! Now I really really dislike it when people say that cooking for one is lame/pathetic (some smug marrieds are guilty of throwing this at single people…oh how do you get the measures right? what do you do with leftovers?what are you stupid?). It screams to me of a lack of self-loving. Solitude is and can be a wonderful thing!
Anywho, he did not seem very worldwise, asked me the difference between sushi and sashimi..ok fine, granted a vegetarian shouldn’t be expected to know this but I am sure you know by that he is not getting a fair trial in Jups’ court of love.
By now, we had both finished our first drink and the waitress came around to see if we wanted more. I looked at him quizzically because he seemed to the sort that had budgeted a certain amount of time for this meeting. He said we could order one more and then he would go home and eat dinner. Why, that’s nice! So I ordered a bellini and he followed suit. He took a sip of it (it wasn’t that good) and said “Oh this is bad”
“Why bad?” (unintentional south park reference!)
“Because it tastes so good that it will make me want to order one more”
Ermm… way to go, Captain RationsFun. This is when he told me that he teetotalled for an entire year up until 2 weeks ago (I am guessing he broke the fast on his recent trip to Japan). Vegetarian teetotaler meets carnivorous drunkard…so much judgment on both sides of the table, I bet you could extract it from the air, bottle it and sell it to old Indian relatives of unmarried women should they ever run out.
It was quite clear to me that he didn’t like Hong Kong – he said there were no good restaurants, no culture, no theatre, no sports. I wonder how he’d even know anything about Hong Kong considering he lives in IFC and works in Jardine House next door (considers that a 7 minute commute, he must walk real slow) and even has dates in the same bloody building!
We did agree on one thing – spending money. I casually mentioned that I loved travel and seldom had a budget or felt guilty about blowing my salary on air tickets and the like. He seemed to like this and then popped this little gem. “So what is the most expensive accessory you own?” Holy-fantastically-awkward-question-batman! I was stumped, predictably.
By the end of it, I just couldn’t be fucking bothered so I thought, might as well lay my cards on the table. I am probably never going to be a vegetarian nor a teetotaler and I am definitely never moving to India. I told him I value my liberties too much to live in a place where I would have to think twice about wearing for example, a seemingly harmless wrap dress. I am quite certain that he didn’t like my comments but I didn’t care. He said “oh we are getting there”. Oh yeah? well send me a telegram when we actually do get there because until then, I don’t really give a shit that your parents have an apartment with a sea-facing view in South Bombay (yes he mentioned very specifically).
I asked to be excused to go to the loo, to which his reply was “shall I get the check?” “Yeah sure”, I thought, since you have, as planned, finished your two drinks and established that I am never moving to the motherland or to Singapore with you. We took the escalator down one level, obviously he didn’t plan on escorting me to the cab stand or anything. He gave me another left-boob-squashing sideways hug and I left.
As the escalator trundled down, he shouted over to me “Hey, look, I’ll message you sometime”.
Ah an elegant start to a beautiful romance.