1 of 101: May 13th 2017
No pressure, Dolly. It’s just the first date for #101qdates. Just gotta make it special, no biggie. After my self-dialogue almost overheated my generally chilled out brain to the point of shutting it down, I had the most brilliant, awesomely epic brainwave: I could ask Saritha Hegde out on a date. Senior VP at Li & Fung India Pvt Ltd and the founder of The Friday Convent. a small networking and support group for working women, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with this phenomenal woman. She would be the perfect start to this oh-my-God-what-have-I-got-myself-into venture of mine.
Now all I had to do was pick the perfect place and plan the date out (my brain was like, not this again, Dolly!). But, this was easier than choosing the first date. I settled on a motorbike ride to Nrityagram India’s first modern Gurukul for Indian classical dances and a dance village community, set up by Odissi dancer Protima Gauri in 1990. If you’ve ever been to Nrityagram, you will know what I mean when I say I love the feminine energy and passion for perfection infused in every corner of this place.
On the day of the date, I decided to cab it to Nrityagram – even the Rain Gods shall not play havoc with my date. I was not nervous at all (who am I kidding, I was starting something that could very well take 3 three years to complete) – I knew Sari very well, she was kind, loving and understanding. And thank Goddesses for that, because everything didn’t go as I had planned.
Taj Kuteeram, the restaurant close to Nrityagram where we were planning to have food, was closed for renovation. The drive to Hesarghatta and the dance performance at Nrityagram had left us very hungry. Left with no other option and because our stomachs had started digesting themselves, we stopped at a highway dhaba for food.
In my head, I was screaming at myself for making the Senior VP of Li and Fung eat at a highway dhaba, but food and beer have a way of making the worst of situations better. We bonded over an amazing meal and stories about our lives. I asked her about her views on the LGBT community. She said she believes everyone should have equal rights and people should not be judged for who they love. By the time we finished our lunch, our tummies were full, but so were our hearts.
We drove back to Bangalore, and I joined Sari and her friends for dinner at her place. And I ended up on one of the longest dates of my life – I spent the entire day with an amazing woman and loved every second of it. But all good things must come to an end, and as the dinner wound up and people started leaving one by one, I too decided to bid her goodbye.
As we hugged tight, I knew one thing for sure – if ever there was going to be a woman in my life, she had to be a woman like Sari: strong, independent and kind.
Saritha Hegde’s Experience and Version of the Date
As someone who has many close friends in the LGBTQ community, I felt their angst and pain when they shared stories about discovering their sexuality and coming out. To judge someone for the person they love is simply unacceptable. Such prejudices, of course, come from ignorance.
When Dolly, whom I had met through “The Friday Convent” (a network and support group for women professionals), asked me out on a date as part of an initiative she had started to create awareness, I readily agreed.
I had a great day. Nritygram was amazing and to see the dancers and their feminine energy was almost spiritual. A great lunch, lots of laugh, great music and getting to know the wonderful soul that is Dolly was truly enriching.