A date for dinner: Heart Searching: Amid changing attitudes in the Asian community, Dolly Dhingra tries to find a first-class male

The ad sounded ambitious: dinner parties with at least eight suitable partners each evening - I hadn't met that many in 27 years. The annual registration fee seemed minimal at pounds 10; what had I got to lose?

I had decided to subscribe to Eastern Eye - a badly written rag for Asians, full of movie gossip and problems of suicidal brides-to-be living in the Midlands - after discovering that the lonely hearts column in Time Out only had an average of two Asian males a week.

I came across the Asian Dinner Dating Company ad in the Connections and Matrimonial columns. It included a detailed personal questionnaire, and a chance to describe your ideal partner. In the hope of finding a first-class male, I eagerly sent my cheque by first-class mail.

Returning to work, I was too busy to dream about the man who might father my children. It was early one Saturday morning when a chirpy voice on the phone said: 'I'm sorry, did I wake you up?'

'Depends who it is,' I replied.

'The Asian Dinner Dating Co,' the voice answered.

'Oh no, of course you didn't. I've been up since the crack of dawn.'

She explained that, due to a cancellation, a place had become available at a meeting tomorrow. This gave me no time to be nervous, so I agreed to attend. The venue, rather than being a local curry house as I had imagined, turned out to be one of my favourite Indian restaurants, The Red Fort.

Approaching the restaurant, I passed an Asian man who crashed his rather ostentatious car while attempting to park - frightened that I might be sitting next to him all evening, I pretended not to notice. I looked around for an Indian equivalent of Cilla Black, and was surprised to be welcomed by two finely dressed women, probably younger than myself. There were four tables of eight, two each for the Muslims and Hindus. I was the only Sikh that evening and made my way to a table with two Hindus who had already arrived. I sat next to a lively nurse from Harrow and a rather desperate-looking accountant.

Within 15 minutes we were all present and familiar with each other's occupations and postal districts, and discovered that we were all of a type - left home to go to college and now in professional jobs, we seemed to have lost touch with our Asian community. We complained that there were few or no Asians at work and that it was becoming increasingly difficult to make contact with any, let alone like-minded, Indians.

The nurse confessed: 'My parents are finding it very difficult to find a decent match for me. I am not after the traditional Indian male. I am intelligent and earn a decent salary. I don't want to spend my married life being a submissive daughter-in-law.'

Sanjay, a 29-year-old financial adviser, explained that he was looking for a partner with some creative flair and was not interested in the young, pretty, domesticated women that his parents had been recently introducing to him. There were heated debates on how arranged marriages were perhaps a way of satisfying all members of an extended family, rather than just two individuals, whether we planned to live with in-laws, and if we could ever envisage settling in India.

Halfway through the evening, the eight of us had all become rather cosy when Sabina, the organiser, came to tell the men it was time to change tables in order to meet the other four women. We were introduced to the next set of males, a mathematician, a businessman, a computer analyst and a social worker. It took a while to warm up again, but as the evening progressed people began to relax, and as always there seemed to be a direct relationship between units of alcohol consumed and confessions per minute.

Neelam, a researcher, spoke frankly of how she dreaded the old idea of viewing brides: 'I hate the idea of a prospective husband coming to my parents' house and me having to dress up in a sari so he and his family can have a good look. I would much prefer wearing jeans and having a conversation about how bad Bollywood or Bust is.'

As coffee was served the organisers sought some feedback. Sabina, who is now married, set up the service because she had once experienced the disillusionment that we were going through - 'I thought I'd never find an Indian man that I wanted to marry.' Genuinely concerned that the organisation should cater for a particular class of person, she said: 'Some women call me and say that they won't consider a man who earns less than pounds 25k a year, from a well-established background. I suggest to them tactfully that maybe they would be better off with the old arranged marriage system. We are only concerned with providing a service for intelligent, aware individuals.'

By the end of the evening, although some members exchanged phone numbers, there was little romance in the air. It had been an evening of shared experience, fine food and a lot of giggles. At pounds 45 it's a lot cheaper than a dowry.

The Asian Dinner Dating Co, 40 Wessex Street, London E2 0LB. Tel: 081-503 6194 or 0956 230414.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities