I have often wondered if a short term love can actually be called such? Can love be momentary and yet fulfilling enough to get you drunk? Can it help you forget everything around you, without giving or taking away hope about a future with someone, or by yourself? Can it let you have that senselessly giddy romance, where your heart beats high, and yet there is no promise of holding hands?
Earlier this year, I was introduced to 100 Tinder Tales on Instagram by my friend (this friend, in due time has also introduced me pickle with rum, a man who is tracing how people smile, delectable food in Bengaluru’s nooks and crannys and a lovely graduation speech/ song that I listen to everyday). Started by Mumbai-based artist, Indu Harikumar, it has slowly attracted a lot attention on the photo sharing platform and in media. Except that the photos are not photos as such, these are paintings and representations by Indu (who goes by the handle Induviduality), an artist from Mumbai.
A fashion and history student (what a cool combination), Indu Harikumar has worked on children’s books, designed toys, and even worked in the children’s comic, Chandamama. But looking for something new to draw (eternal lament of the artistic mind?) and draw inspiration from, she took up the #The100dayproject. In this challenge, one has to create something new every day for 100 days. Indu consulted with a friend, shared the options of #100wordsoflove and #100IndianTinderTales, and settled on the latter for her new muse.
“There was no plan. I didn’t expect it to take off or to hear from others. I had a few stories from when I tried Tinder in Vienna and a few friends agreed to share their tales. I even randomly asked acquaintances if they Tindered and if they’d share their tale. Some did. I didn’t think it would go beyond 15 stories. But the ninth story was shared a lot and still is and that’s how I started to hear from others,” explains Indu, in response to an email that I wrote to her (sounding almost like a fangirl).
One of my favourite, her 42nd “tale” starts with a quote by Rumi. “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”And then another, more recent is the 75th tale. In this, a girl in a bright yellow dress is hidden behind a postcard from London (evident from the corner of the phonebooth and the Big Ben drawn on it). The story too remains close to my heart – the fact that there is always some good in the world, no matter what you have just gone through – have always been something I wanted to believe in.
I, for one, have never tried Tinder. I have nightmares of the kind of people you can meet online, or even in person. But for Indu, her firstTinder meet was (in her own words) fab. “The next two times I installed the app, I uninstalled it because I was creeped out. I was curious about other people’s experiences. I did go back to Tinder for the project and have met three men and I’d say that I am not creeped out anymore. I do tell most people I chat with about the project. They often start with, “Am I part of your research?”, “Am I your story?”, “Will you write about me?” Some of the men I have matched with have also shared stories.”
But can these stories, though they are her muse or her subject in a way, affect her? She agrees readily. “It was emotionally very exhausting to read these stories every day. Though at many levels I find the stories very healing but yes, it did cause a lot of emotional fatigue and I cut down to 3 stories a week.”
In the initial days, according to Indu, she tried to put out new themes, stories from newer places. To invite more men to participate, she pushed out all the stories from them. Now, however, she chooses completely on a whim. But it obviously creates the desired effect on the readers and her followers on Instagram.
While she continues with her project (100 isn’t too far) and plans to exhibit her work in The Hague, take a look at some the wonderful stories she has shared and given a life to.