desi dating scene
[Photo Courtsey: Varsha Mathur]

It’s that time of the week when you make weekend plans. Whether you are in school or playing the 9 to 5 game, it is likely you are confronted with either the desi dating scene or elsewhere. For me, it was either hanging out with my non-Indian roommates who went out to bars near campus or the desi party happening off campus with bhangra to start and a finale of reggae remixes.

After college, it was either salsa nights, the local bars, the busiest night clubs or the desi party. We all know there’s always some party around town that has a desi DJ, promoter or theme. You almost always know someone and can predict the music that will be played. I always thought that my chance to meet single desi guys (and yes, for me this meant American born desis) was to go out with my girlfriends to the desi scene.

In hindsight, I realized that this plan was really hit or miss. As a coach, I am often asked by single women where the best place to meet men can be, especially when you know that you want to meet someone with a similar cultural background. There are pros and cons to going out to the desi dating scene versus the variety of other places you can meet men. Here is what this means for single brown girls:

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Pro: There are Lots of People with Similar Backgrounds

You know who is likely to attend desi parties. Most of them will be people like you. Brown girls and brown guys who want to enjoy good music and go out with their friends. You won’t have to explain the lyrics, or why (when he eventually meet your parents) your mom insists that he eats more at brunch. He will understand when you don’t get a plus one to your friend’s wedding or that you think Ranbir Kapoor is more romantic than Chris Hemsworth.

Con: Your Friends Already Know Him

Here’s the catch, if you hit it off with someone at a desi party, it’s likely you have mutual friends. The risk is that you may not get to know each other solely based the time you spend together because other’s biases will make their way to your ears even before you leave the bar. Would you still be interested in a guy if you heard your girlfriend say, “He was so scrawny in high school and had the worst haircut,” or “He dated my other friend and broke it off over text?” Perhaps someone is telling him something irrelevant but potentially influential about you too. None of us were perfect in the past, but two people can connect and be perfect for each other regardless of their pasts.

Pro: Knowing People There Makes You More Relaxed

Knowing what to expect when you show up to a place definitely helps make you more comfortable. If you go out to in the desi scene, you’ll know what to wear, who you’ll show up with and might have been there before. These circumstances will make you more confident, and the best first impressions are made with confidence.

Con: Expectations are High

If you are going there to meet someone, likely so are many others. Despite the confidence and comfort of being there, if everyone is on their best game, the competition is high. Being in a room full of people who may seem similar to you, unfortunately, makes it easier to make assumptions and be conscious of materialistic or stereotypical things.

Pro: Desi Culture is Diverse

You can definitely walk into a room full of desi men and find someone who is: artistic, nerdy, sporty, handsome, charming, smart, witty, cultured, educated, hardworking, a gamer, a CEO, or a musician. Of course, there is also all of the cultural diversity in South Asian society; religion, languages, and regional practices make it pretty interesting to meet desi men. Even more interesting is how different one Western born desi can be from the next just based on how they were raised by their immigrant families.

Con: You Miss Out on Other Men

All over your town are people going out and meeting others. Studies have shown that up to 40 percent of the US population does not have friends outside of their race. Yet, there are huge benefits of interracial interactions in the dating scene. You can gain perspective on yourself and the world by opening the doors to new people. Meeting men outside of the desi scene just won’t happen if you don’t have friends outside of it. Plus, if you are more inclined to date outside of your race, but feel that some commonalities will be nice for a long term relationship or marriage, you may be surprised by how many desis are also going out and dating desis outside of the desi scene.

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For me, it was always a mix that worked. I definitely went out in the desi scene less than most people but I ended up meeting like-minded Western born Indians along the way. My American-born husband and I met on e-Harmony, which is typically known as a predominantly Caucasian dating site. We hit it off right away and I often commend myself for the out-of-box thinking that led me to try a different dating scene. If I hadn’t tried it, I would not have met my husband who I absolutely adore. I encourage everyone to keep a balance between the desi dating scene and checking out the rest of what’s out there.

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