Many aeons have passed since I last wrote about a shenanigan. I solemnly swear I have not been able to be up to any good in the past few months (actually doing my job and paying bills like an adult). It’s been a rather busy few months, and I do not suppose the busywork shall ever let up.

But I come to you, fair readers, with a recycled plot—Bumble bot 3 - a new saga of my dating journey. I’ve had a fun trip to Kolkata recently for my cousin's wedding, and I decided to reboot the bit of code lying around to see what the algorithm would drag in.

Without further ado, let’s start with the dates!

Date 1. She’s pretty. Stunning actually. There is something oddly even and synergistic between her eyebrows and hairline (it seems I have a forehead fetish (which I assure you I do not )). It's a perfectly offset appearance, I think. It was almost as if someone drew her face in Autocad. Apart from my terrible rizz at describing this person - the date was uneventful; she was extraordinarily busy with work and just wanted to hang out. I was concerned that this was a chore for her, so I paid for everything to compensate for lost time.

Date 2. Interesting individual; from a conversational point of view, I got along the best with this individual the most. No new perspectives, but hey cannot win them all.

Date 3+ 4. This date was bizarre - or, in retrospect, was very ordinary. I swiped on two different women who swiped back on me (of course, that’s how Bumble works), but it turns out the two of them are the best of friends. Quick math lesson: this phenomenon is called triadic closure. I set a date with the three of us and went out with them to see how the group hangout went. It went rather uneventfully - they were pretty okay.

Date 4. This was during my little excursion to Darjeeling. A city girl who ran away to live her life in the mountains is who she was. I never did meet her, but I did trade details and such. Also, she was a lovely guide when recommending places to eat - it made the trip better.

Date 5. She’s a trans person. Pardon me if that’s not the right way to identify her. Also, I use the pronouns she/her, but they told me they don’t like the idea of pronouns. I’m not very sure what to do. The individual seemed extraordinary, though - they recommended an excellent climbing spot, which I loved.

Date 6 + 7. It was a similar experience as the double date before - it could have been more eventful. There's a loss of honesty in terms of going out with the intent of data collection and not being invested (I thought I would have realised after the last bot experiment). I’ve chosen to call off all my other dates and delete all my accounts. I’ve finally realised what I want from romance, so let's move on to the reflections.

Now, for the high and mighty introspective bits, have I learned anything from this shenanigan?

As this chapter of technological-assisted romantic explorations draws to a close, I pause to reflect on the philosophical musings we've entertained about the nature of love. It began with a straightforward premise: love as a transaction. This notion, though pragmatic, is admittedly as romantic as a corporate merger, yet it served as our baseline, a starting point for deeper inquiry.

I then ascended (or just read and then regurgitated to you) to the heights of Erich Fromm's ideal—love as a skill, a noble yet daunting aspiration. Here, love is not stumbled upon but cultivated with the precision and dedication of a master craftsman. Yet, despite its allure, this model remains a lofty peak too steep for most of us to scale in daily practice. I am a mere mortal.

I modified the idea of the rituals of friendship from the last post. I got into this round of dates with a new idea: love as a shared bank account—a repository of mutual care where each deposit and withdrawal shapes the relationship. In this case, the deposits are the rituals of friendship I spoke about in the first post. This metaphor, while more communal, is quite dull. It is lacking because it teaches us little about how or what to love. It’s very effective in keeping a relationship, but also extraordinarily dull and has the same appeal as doing taxes.

Thus, I propose a final analogy: love (all sorts, think relationships) as a garden. Imagine a lush garden where the plants are people, the soil and climate are the circumstances of our lives, and I, perhaps ambitiously, am the gardener tasked with its care. A well-balanced garden requires diversity—the steadfastness of trees, the supportive nature of shrubs, and the occasional orchid, whose fleeting blooms bring ephemeral beauty.

And about orchids, these are the showpieces of the garden (this is sexist, but I am bisexual and have thus absolved myself of sexism): reckless and stunning in their transience. They are not the trees whose sturdy branches I might climb or shelter under; friends and family firmly fill those roles. Nor are they the shrubs that form the dependable understory of daily life. Orchids are the baddies of the botanical world, the seasonal spectacles that capture the heart with their beauty and the imagination with their transient presence. In pondering the nature of these orchids, I've realised they represent something vital about my approach to relationships—not the deep-rooted commitments but the breathtaking, often fleeting interactions that invigorate and inspire. They are not objects of sexualisation (I have no defence for realising and admitting how profoundly shallow I am) but icons of a particular blithe spirit, embodying the reckless beauty that one yearns to witness seasonally. And it must be seasonal since, if treated differently, the magic in that sense utterly vanishes, like an orchid being moved to be potted at home (Also, once you get to know them, the illusion of happiness vanishes (This perhaps cements my shallowness)). My garden possibly lacks more orchids than trees or sturdier shrubs. In acknowledging this, I appreciate the seasonal nature of particular loves—how they come into our lives brightly and intensely yet may not be meant for long-term sustenance. Still, a steady supply is necessary for the garden's health, of course (I only work in service of the garden). And maybe that’s okay.

Hopefully, this reaches the audience who complain about the lack of meaningful romantic relationships to embracing the full spectrum of relationships that life offers (including the shallow, meaningless ones; they don’t last after all, so it’s all for nought anyway). May your garden be ever diverse and your heart open to the seasonal joys of baddies.

As an exit strategy, I have decided to crush on random folks at my climbing gym (and I have it down to a science of only crushing for the climbing session and going home happy, only to crush on someone else the next time). There’s something exquisite about watching someone climb, which, perhaps, warrants a later investigation. But embracing the impermanence in that sense has made me very happy.

As always, keep shenanigan!