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)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

C# .Net Developer

£23000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: C# .Net Develop re...

Senior BI Engineer (BI/MI, Data Mining)

£60000 - £65000 per annum + Bonus & Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior BI Enginee...

IT Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a teacher o...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor