>Single in the City

>How does a girl sitting down alone at a table in a restaurant look? Like me?

Two months of living alone in Delhi means I must come to terms with what people must think of me when I enter an eating place alone. And when I sit down in a crowded place and eat by myself. It means I must get used to the stares – inquisitive, judgmental, amused. Sometimes, people look at me for a little longer than is polite, probably trying to guess why a girl should be out for dinner alone; I stare back at them blankly, just to make them realise I’m not up for scrutiny. Sometimes, they stare long enough at the back of my head to make me want to get up and go away; but I never do.

I just sit there, intent on having fun, even if I’m alone. Sometimes I try so hard to do it, I could cry. Sometimes, I just focus on silencing my growling stomach and make those stares melt away. It makes things easier, but rarely enjoyable.

My Blackberry gives me company when I’m eating out alone. It never asks me questions, never leaves me alone to fight perceptions. It lends me a look of not being alone in this world, of perhaps being busy, conveys to the curious eye that I have friends and family who would take me out under different circumstances.

Sometimes people are nice enough to not send as much as a second glance my way. And that makes me feel at ease – as if it were the most normal thing for a girl living in a big city to just get up and go out for a meal all by herself! It seems like it should be, if it isn’t anyway!

I could almost love my solitude if people were better at pretending that it’s okay for a girl to be sitting alone at a quiet table in a crowded restaurant. But because they suck at this so, I end up a little more lonely than I should.

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31 responses »

  1. >Don't you have any friends to go out with?Anyway, I'd suggest you try to be a bit lesser conscious about such things. It's possible.And solitude is a good thing when you know it's going to be over someday.

  2. >It is not an easy thing to do… To ignore the inquiring eyes of strangers… You'll get used to it, I suppose. If you don't, try take outs, instead of eating in… Or be a regular at some place so that at least the waiters/bar tenders recognize you… Some friendly faces in a sea of unknowns might help…So true, a blackberry can be a signal of 'a not so lonely and empty' life πŸ™‚ Sometimes people don't understand that dining alone is not such a bad thing after all…

  3. >Hey, I don't mean to sound cheeky or anything, but you know there are people who do that. In fact, when I was in Hyderabad alone for an year, I used to do that all the time. Eat out alone, watch movies alone, go shopping alone. Apart from the phone, what gave me an air of being busy was usually a newspaper! You aren't the only lonely soul out there, you know!

  4. >Belated Happy Birthday, D! Hope you were not alone last Sunday!And I do it all the time…eat by myself, but only at lunch, when it is probably not that strange a thing to do. I hope you get to the point where the stares amuse you instead of making you feel uncomfortable. Chin up, girl, so proud of you πŸ™‚

  5. >@Ritu: Eh? Been there?@Lunatic: No, none who would be at my beck and call and would travel a minimum of 1O km to be with me! Anyway…@Hobo: πŸ™‚ I agree. Not looking for friends or sympathy!@Jira: I agree – it isn't as bad as they would want me to feel about it.

  6. >@Double Inverted Commas: Not cheeky at all! And you're right – it's not uncommon for women to go out alone for a meal. But you know what, this city doesn't even know how to fake it well! @Aneri: Hey,belated happy b'day to you too. And I was anything but alone last Sunday – had an awesome birthday :)@How do we know: Good going!@rainboy: Exactly! Thank you πŸ™‚

  7. >that's the best part of being in Mumbai…people will never make you feel out of place πŸ™‚ and even when you are alone at the theatre..people are too busy in their own lives than to worry why someone's is sitting alone πŸ™‚

  8. >Been there done that. The best way is to go to a restaurant that is BUSY- that way, they'll all be looking at finishing thei meal and getting out… but yeah, you will still get some stares.. sometimes more from women than men. Nerds!

  9. >I am with you.. I watch movies alone, have food alone and then shop alone. Previously it was awkward, now I dont care if someone stares at me or looks at me in suprise when I ask for just one ticket.. I am used to it.

  10. >@Nu: I know. Cultural differences between cities!@Karan: I don't avoid it because I think I must get used to it, must make my peace with my solitude.@Nitin: Like what?@JLT: I think the solution is to just ignore.

  11. >I know how it feels.. but at some point I started enjoying it. Once the food arrives, I get busy with it. But the wait for the food is difficult. And during such occasions, phone is my best friend.

  12. >Why are you alone D?? Why?? I know what you mean.. I have a friend who lives alone in Pune and has the same problem.. But eventually … you learn to ignore..Its strange.. I live with my hubby.. and people still think I'm single.. people stare.. they even ask me.. why I'm alone at times.. (like people at the counter who see me weekly..) I'm not sure they care… but are surely inquisitive as to what someone could do shopping on her own!! Come… and stay with me in Dubai for a while.. and we will have a ball together.. Take care!

  13. >@Soulmate: And I'm not used to it!@SMM: Yeah, but when I eat, I can't read. I just like to concentrate on my plate :)@Pointblank: Oh, I enjoy shopping alone and being by myself most of the times. Just the eating out alone bit creeps me out.@Pat: How sweet! You never know, I just might take up that offer πŸ™‚

  14. >i am finally delurking….have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and love your writing. firstly congtaulations on pursuing your dreams and moving to delhi. delhi can be tough on people. i lived in this city 10 years of my life and i remember how much i hated it when i first got there. i know its hard to manage those 'stares'-lone girl a a public place…i also remember the first time i went out to eat alone and trust me when i say, i came away with the same feelings. but dont let them stares deter you or stop you from doing what you want to. towards the end of my stay, i not only ate in resturants, i used to watch movies too ( not one but sometimes two)and it was fun. btw, resturants were a good place for me to catch up on some reading ! enjoy dilli….its not an easy place but it grows on you.

  15. >Aww..It`s weird, how strange people can be! I`m surprised reading this post, D. I remember my time alone in Pune(and this was when I was in college nearly 9 years back!). I would watch movies alone, eat alone, roam around alone and NO ONE would even care! I guess it`s easier said than done – but try and ignore. Really. Such people dont deserve 2 minutes of your attention!

  16. >i am not surprised. i have eaten by myself only once or twice and i have no idea why people should find it odd or curious!book and phone, yes, they work.you wont believe me D, this Sunday i went on a dinner date with Cub because M was not around and we were bored of being cooped up. and still i got stares! a single "looking" mother will also get the looks! gah!hugs!

  17. >Seven months all alone on a project in chennai made me have lunch and dinner alone everyday amidst blatant staring !!!!! I usually buy a magazine..Blackberry is definitely a better idea!

  18. >D, most people can't understand that there are some who like solitude. I do. I love me alone time. Go on have your food and don't bother about 'them'. Also, go out with girlfriends if you like. I think there are lots of people in Delhi from blog world and twitter. If you like company then make plans with them for movies, dinner or drinks. Not for anyone but for you. If you enjoy being alone then continue and let them curious minds overwork. Ki farak painda.

  19. >Eatting alone is tough in itself. Having to deal with people and their judging eyes. I would have balked a long time back, so have all the admiration for you. Hang in there..the phone, a newspaper, an interesting book all might help..if you need help..

  20. >@dropzofjupiter: Lol! Now, I'm going to be thinking that thought – tera muh kaal – everytime I go out alone. And get even more stares for laughing out loud! :)@SBora: That's a nice comment to delurk with πŸ™‚ Yes, I don't intend to give up on what I must learn to do – be at peace with myself – just because someone's staring at me.@Piper: Like I said, cities are culturally different. But you're right, I must learn to ignore. Also, sometimes it's just about me not being used to going out alone.@Abha: OMG! That's even weirder!@Saumya: What are they staring at if so many people are going out alone all the time?!@Solilo: It's not like I'm friendless in Delhi. It's just that I'm not able to coordinate my schedule with my friends' because of my odd work hours. And I would go out alone, if not for the love of solitude then for the love of food :)@comfortablynam: There was a time when I'd cry eating alone, forget about eating 'out'. But I do not like to be dependent on others for my happiness and so I've learnt to enjoy a meal by myself.

  21. >I hate to eat alone anywhere, but staying alone I have gradually started adjusting to the fact.Why don't you try giving them amused glances or just return their stare with a smile. I am sure they would either be flustered and look away or return a smile back. Has worked for me most of the times. And sometimes our subconscious plays on us more than what we actually see around. Control the mind and you should be good πŸ™‚

  22. >Ohhh, that's lousy!I've been having my lunches alone for 4 months now… I go to a crowded place with no seating, eat like lightning, come back to work and sit and Facebook through lunch hour…And the radio gives me company through lunch each day :-)Yes, it sucks… Know how you feel :-(I don't think women find it awkward to eat alone here… North India instills crazy complexes in people…

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