Each week in The Hook-Up, we set up single readers of The Grid and send them on blind dates around Toronto. Here’s what Irina and Siddharth had to say about their date at Bangkok Garden.
Irina is a 29-year-old marketing manager who lives in Etobicoke. Her style is “well-groomed contemporary. I take my skinny jeans from the office to dinner… and I could probably wear leather 24/7.” Irina is “down-to-earth, loyal, and honest” and she says she can “talk to literally anyone about anything.” She spent last New Year’s Eve “on a maple-syrup farm in Northern Quebec” and loves to travel, cook, and work out. She wants to date someone tall, a “’work hard, play hard’ type of guy” who is “open to trying new things.”
Siddharth is a 29-year-old software engineer and musician who lives near Queen West. He says, “My style is minimalist, efficient, comfortable and urban” and that he is “empathetic, analytical, and passionate.” Siddharth likes to “read, go to the park with my dog, and play and write music.” He says, “As far as personal style goes [in a date], I’m OK as long as there aren’t too many piercings.” Siddharth also wants to date someone who is intelligent and outdoorsy.
Irina on Siddharth
“I made sure to give myself enough time to get to the restaurant; with World Pride going on, Toronto was busier than ever. Of course, I ended up at the spot early and walked around the block for 15 minutes or so. Why do I always do that?
“When I finally got inside, my date was already there. He appeared to be a little uncomfortable, but he shook my hand and introduced himself. His posture was too upright, not the way people stand when they are relaxed. His handshake was also a little limp for a man his size. He mentioned that this was his first blind date ever, so maybe he just wasn’t sure what the ‘rules of the game’ are. He didn’t give me a hug, and I knew that we were not going to hit it off: lack of physical contact and three feet of space between us made it more awkward. When you hug someone, you break this initial uncomfortable feeling, and the person is no longer a stranger; there’s a smile, and you get to see each other’s eyes up close. [Here], there was no spark. I tend to go for men with big and loud personalities. Siddharth was fit and well-groomed, though, and it didn’t seem like he was trying too hard. I gave him points for that.
“Our table was in a quiet corner of the restaurant, and we were quickly seated and served water. Siddharth asked me if I was going to have a drink, and I said, ‘Yes!’ I really thought that we needed a couple of stiff ones to break the ice and help the conversation. I got a gin and tonic, and Siddharth got a Caesar. His drink looked better than mine, and under different circumstances I would’ve asked to try it. This time, I didn’t feel comfortable—it just didn’t feel natural.
“The conversation was going pretty well, but I did get a feeling that I was somewhat driving it at the beginning. We talked a lot about Pride. I was pretty excited about the parade and all the other events, but Siddharth didn’t really know what Pride was about. I was a little surprised, but then he explained that he’s been living in Toronto for only two years.
“We found out that we’re both healthy-lifestyle fanatics. We both work out a lot, and eat healthy. We both constantly seek new information about nutrition, and ways to better our bodies. At the same time, we love food, so a healthy lifestyle is not an obsession, but a guideline to follow. Siddharth told me about this cool meal-delivery service that he works with, and about a fitness program he did for a year. The conversation was a lot easier, and we asked each other questions and shared our experiences. We found lots of things in common, and talked about pretty much everything: our favourite Toronto neighbourhoods, pets, music… I told Siddharth that I like metal and hard rock, and he seemed genuinely impressed with that. It was funny, because I didn’t take him for a rock fan either, but clearly appearances can be deceiving. Siddharth plays in an alternative rock band. I also like EDM a lot, but Siddharth isn’t really much into the scene.
“We ordered food at some point. Siddharth let me pick the apps that we shared, and then we both ordered our mains. I went for a seafood dish, and he ordered a Cornish hen. Both dishes were absolutely delicious. We ended up sharing our mains, too.
“We didn’t talk about our relationship expectations until the very end of the meal, after we both ordered desserts. I talked a little about what I was looking for, but tried to do it very generically so as not to set up wrong expectations. Siddharth was pretty much on the same page as me: He’s open to a relationship, but doesn’t put too much energy into seeking one out. I also didn’t get the feeling that he has many flings or one-night stands—he seems to be more on the conservative side. To be honest, I couldn’t really imagine him doing anything wild at all. I got the impression that Sid is a hard worker. I think he is very goal-oriented, and rarely lets himself go. He laughed at my jokes, but didn’t make any himself. He’s sweet and polite… a perfect guy to bring home to the parents. I can see him spending lots of evenings with a few close friends over beer and a movie; I can’t see him going to an all-night party or taking an impromptu weekend trip just because he felt like it.
“I said I had fun and the dinner was great and left the restaurant. No hug this time, either, and Siddharth didn’t ask for my number. I was happy he didn’t, but overall I had a great time having dinner with him. That smile should come out a lot more often, though!”
IRINA RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Siddharth’s manners: 9
Siddharth’s laugh: 9
Siddharth’s tact: 9
Siddharth on Irina
“The date started off on a pleasant note with us being shown a table and getting settled in. The first thing I noticed about Irina was that she had an eastern-European sounding accent, and that she was tall. She was overall pretty good-looking and I was looking forward to getting to know her.
“My date turned out to be an interesting person: a Moldovan by birth who landed on Canadian shores 13 years ago. It was easy to talk to Irina, and we touched upon a wide variety of topics. We talked for quite a while about health-related topics like cooking, workouts, and food shopping. I learned some cool things about baking with protein powder from her. We also talked a bit about our interests in music; she’s really into EDM and metal, an interesting combination to say the least. I was happy to find out that she liked Metallica, Slayer, and other metal bands. She also recommended a couple of EDM names for me to check out. I play in an art-rock band, and often like to mix in electronica with my band’s music, so that was useful. Both of us being international, we talked for a while about where we grew up—me in Abu Dhabi, and her in Moldova.
“We then transitioned to talking about recent TV shows we’ve watched, and went on to discuss what we were currently looking for in a relationship. She told me a horror story that she recently experienced [on a date via] Plenty of Fish. Apparently, she thought the guy was interesting and nice [online], but was annoyed that he didn’t tell her he had a speech impediment and a hearing aid; she had found the non-mention of the hearing aid to be a turn-off, and left the date early. I didn’t know what to think of that. It’s like a George moment on Seinfeld: On one hand, you empathize with George, but on the other hand… To be fair, I really don’t know what I would’ve done. In any case, discussing the dating world with a fellow dater was good. It was enlightening to hear about how she approached dating. I guess it was a bit weird at first, considering that we were on a date.
“It’s hard to say if there was any real chemistry between us. We had a couple of things in common: being international, working in the same industry, being metal fans. One thing I didn’t understand was that she didn’t like the great outdoors. I think the sense of wonderment that comes with being alone in the middle of nowhere staring at the Milky Way is hard to beat.
“One thing I did like about her is her openness to new things; the fact that she was even on this date spoke volumes. She was confident, bubbly, and mature in her thinking, [which are] all attractive qualities to me. And I have to say her accent, too: certain words had a lilt that was hard to describe, [and had] a very charming effect. She had a nice smile too, and an infectious laugh.
“We shook hands and said, ‘Good luck, and take care’ to each other.”
SIDDHARTH RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Irina’s tact: 6
Irina’s accent: 9
Special thanks to Bangkok Garden, 18 Elm St., 416-977-6748. Follow @BangkokGardenTO and Like Facebook.com/BangkokGardenTO.
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