I was also afraid that they would throw us out because we couldn’t speak English.” The biggest problem for such couples is a space to meet.
We never went to malls as everything there was out of my budget.It cost me 60 rupees.” Surender used to ask Preeti to meet him at a meeting point far from their homes.Dressed up in his best clothes, some cheap jeans and a shirt from counterfeit brands bought from Palika Bazaar, and wearing cologne, his priority was to plan their dates in a way to avoid Delhi’s infamous “eve-teasers,” men who sexually harass women on the street with leers, catcalls and often ironic serenades of lyrics from famous Bollywood film songs.Anuradha starts her day washing dishes, cups and cutlery in Sarita Vihar, one of New Delhi’s more affluent neighbourhoods. “We generally go to a place which is far from my home.It is one of six apartments that she cleans every day. I borrow my employer’s cellphone to call him and decide our plans,” she said.Delhi has a per capita annual income of 300,000 rupees (,615) - the highest in the country and three times the national average.
But nearly half of the city’s population lives in slums without basic services and facilities like drinking water, garbage disposal or a proper drainage system.Mostly, the boyfriend, who works as a helper at a general-provision store, pays the bill. “We used to gift each other colorful dhaga (sacred threads) or lockets bought from roadside vendors, meet each other on terraces in our colony and convey our messages through our younger cousins or mutual friends,” Surender said.“We used to meet in desolate lanes and ask the younger ones to be on a lookout. It was years before I took her to have a burger at a Mc Donalds’ outlet in Connaught Place.“I first saw her in a jagrata (all-night prayer ritual) in my colony and knew she was made for me.Though we used to stare at each other daily, I had to wait for another nine years before I could gather the courage to talk to her.For poor people, going on a date requires setting different expectations.