Archive for December 2017

His daughter is 13; her son is 12. When darkness closes in on them, they are uppermost in their mind. Behind a locked cell, former central minister Andimuthu Raja thinks of his daughter. Now out of jail — where son Aditya was always in her thoughts — Rajya Sabha member M.K. Kanimozhi makes sure that he travels with her to Delhi, even though it’s a city he’s not greatly fond of.

Jail is not something that the parliamentarians from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party want to talk about. For Kanimozhi, party strongman M. Karunanidhi’s much-loved daughter, the experience is too raw to recount. For Raja, Karunanidhi’s close lieutenant, the ordeal is far from over.

“Loneliness is hard to beat inside the jail,” says the former telecom minister.

His day in jail No. 1 at the Tihar Central Jail starts at five in the morning. He takes a walk on the grounds, watches the news on his 14-inch colour television set — the one source of entertainment that’s been provided to him — and then reads papers and books connected to his case.

In the evenings he often plays a game of badminton with other “celebrity” inmates housed in Tihar. When the clock strikes 11, Raja has to call it a day. The former telecom minister sleeps on the cemented floor, to wake up again before dawn.

When The Telegraph catches up with him, he is at the Central Bureau of Investigation court at Delhi’s Patiala House, where his case is up for a hearing. Dressed in a pristine white starched shirt with long sleeves and a pair of black trousers, he looks relaxed. When the court breaks for 30 minutes, he moves around the visitors’ corner outside the courtroom, attending to party members who have gathered to meet him with a big smile. He offers them coffee and biscuits.

Raja is not eager to talk about his time in jail, but opens up bit by bit. His wife, M.A. Parameswari, is by his side, and he plays with her sleek gold bangles as he speaks. “She is the source of all positive energy,” he says, patting her back.

Kanimozhi, on the other hand, stresses that she is still not ready to talk about her jail days. She is sitting in her sixth floor apartment — part of a residential complex for parliamentarians in Luytens’s Delhi — 20km yet light years away from Tihar jail. Dressed in an off-white embroidered kurta matched with cream pyjamas and dupatta, she sits on a black leather sofa in her living room.

Her son is in an adjoining room. Most of her afternoons are spent with Aditya, who studies at a Chennai school. “He hates Delhi but he will be here for a week with me,” she smiles. Clearly, she is making up for her all the days lost.

Raja and Kanimozhi are the two most high-profile accused in the multi-crore-rupee 2G spectrum scam. They have been charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Kanimozhi, jailed last May, has been on bail for the past five months. Raja has been in jail since he was arrested in February last year. “This is a learning experience for me,” he says. “I have to overcome this challenge.”

Kanimozhi’s time in jail was filled with “lonely” moments, says an associate. She took long walks on the campus every morning and evening. “By now, she must be aware of every brick in the walls of the jail,” the associate adds.

While Kanimozhi mostly kept to herself, Raja likes to have people around him. “He loves to interact with people,” says a jail source. Occasionally, he even insists that his party members be allowed to meet him when visitors are not allowed. “We also get calls from the office of Mr Karunanidhi asking us to grant him permission to meet his party members at odd hours. But we cannot entertain such requests,” says the source. The ailing Karunanidhi went to visit his 44-year-old daughter thrice when she was in jail. Every time, it was an emotional reunion. But being kept away from her son was what upset her the most.

Raja too shares a strong bond with his daughter. Their birthdays fall on the same day — October 26 — and his wife points out that they have spent every birthday together. “Though he often fails to remember our wedding anniversary in February, he can never forget to be with his daughter on her birthday. Usually, we throw a party or go out for a good dinner to celebrate the two birthdays together,” she says.

Last year was different. There was no celebration with Raja in jail. “Our daughter made a special card for him and gifted it to him in jail. He was overjoyed but was quite emotional,” Parameswari says.

But Raja, a follower of E.V. Ramaswamy — the leader of the Dravidian movement — calls himself a fighter. “I am a born fighter. Injustice has happened to me and I will fight till the end. Only fighting gives me the ultimate strength,” says Raja. Parameswari adds that Raja has always been inspired by Tamil superstar Sivaji Ganesan’s Deiva Magan — a film about a man with a scarred face who fights all odd.

For Kanimozhi, on the other hand, strength came from the epic Mahabharata. “I finished reading the Mahabharata in jail. It gave me a lot of strength,” Kanimozhi says, measuring every word as she speaks.

She also spent many evenings going through parliamentary proceedings. “She would religiously follow every event in Parliament, especially during the Anna Hazare episode last August,” says the jail source.

The problems of women inmates concerned her too. “In most cases, women have been forced by their family members to accept charges of crime they haven’t committed. I want to do something for them but that is possible only after my case gets over,” she says.

Like with Raja, language was a problem for Kanimozhi. Both speak English and Tamil but are not fluent in Hindi, which made it difficult for her — and continues to pose problems for him — during interactions with Hindi-speaking inmates. “But Kanimozhi’s Hindi improved in those six months. From five words, her vocabulary went up to 20,” one of her associates says.

Since both are from Tamil Nadu, they are accustomed to their regional cuisine and found it difficult to get used to north Indian food. Raja has been given permission to get food from home on health grounds. His wife provides him with home-cooked sambarsabziroti and curd rice thrice a day. “He loves pepper mutton but he is not allowed to eat non-vegetarian food in jail,” his wife rues.

Kanimozhi was served home-cooked food — usually sambar rice and curd rice — twice a week. “She is not a fussy eater. She managed with whatever was served inside the jail. If she wanted anything else, she bought it from the jail canteen,” says the jail source.

Kanimozhi seldom drew attention to herself. Even now, when she is in court where her case is being heard, she sits quietly in the back, leaving her lawyers to fight out the legal battle for her.

Raja, on the other hand, is in the thick of the proceedings. He is also fighting his own case — along with his lawyers — and intervenes every now and then. “It is my case and I have to follow every bit of it,” says Raja, a qualified lawyer.

Raja may file for bail once former telecom secretary Siddarth Behura, also in jail, gets bail. We have to get rid of the case,” Parmeswari says with grim determination. “I religiously visit the Sai Baba and Shani temples twice a week.”

The family is not planning anything to mark his homecoming though. “Our last holiday was in Russia two years ago. Maybe we will plan a holiday after he is out. But now we are just keeping our fingers crossed,” she says.

This story was published in The Telegraph, April 22, 2012


Illustration: Suman Choudhury

Swedish author and Sino-India specialist, Bertil Lintner, chats with Sonia Sarkar about hawks and doves

Last week, at the New Delhi launch of Bertil Lintner’s book, China’s India War, one of the panelists joked that India feels gratified whenever the West takes a pro-India stance in the ongoing India-China rift, because international opinion is still shaped by writers from that part of the world. Sitting on the dais, the Swedish journalist and author laughed.

Lintner’s narrative on the Sino-Indian war of 1962 is the antithesis of British journalist Neville Maxwell’s 1970 book, India’s China War. Maxwell had argued that it was India that provoked China in 1962 and China had fallen prey to Jawaharlal Nehru’s hostile policies.

Later that week, when Lintner and I meet in a noisy café at the India International Centre, he tells me, “I think, he [Nehru] had too much faith in China; he didn’t realise that the Chinese were not of the same wavelength.”

Dressed in a deep brown pullover and a pair of jeans, Lintner speaks softly. He tends to explain things in great detail too. The pair of thick, square-shaped glasses he has on adds to the general impression of gravitas. But what is most startling perhaps, off-dais, is the impassive expression on his face.

Inevitably, Doklam comes up. Recent media reports claim that over 1,600 Chinese troops are still present in this region of Bhutan. Most other years, they leave by November. Says the 64-year-old, “Doklam was not about a road. It was the Chinese attempt to create a wedge between Bhutan and India. Bhutan also wanted to show that they are independent of India; they thought India should not get involved as it is about Bhutan and China.”

But there is a view among a section of Indian security experts that New Delhi has irked China several times ever since Narendra Modi assumed power. The invitation extended to the “Prime Minister” of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, for Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2014 did not go down well. Then again, this year, India allowed the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, a territory China claims.

Lintner starts to say something and then stops midway. The words that finally emanate from his mouth, “That’s not my subject.” I find it strangely cautious, if not surprising, coming from one who is known to be vocal about issues such as human rights violations by the Myanmar Army, has questioned disappearances and imprisonment of politicians and civilians alike in Myanmar and has written extensively on organised crime in the Asia Pacific. He is known to be a champion of Press freedom, too.

And while Lintner makes it abundantly clear that he is not interested in antagonising the Modi government, he does remember to warn India about China’s intrusion into the Indian Ocean. He says, “Most of China’s oil supplies come through the Indian Ocean, most of its minerals sourced from Africa pass through it and most of its exports, which go through Europe, to Africa pass through this ocean, which India considers as its own lake. When China enters this area in a big way, there is concern – what is China up to?”

Lintner also talks about how China’s presence in South Asia – it is building ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – is a cause for concern. “It’s part of China’s global strategy and India happens to be in the way,” he adds.

China’s influence on the Northeast is also huge. In his book, Lintner writes that China has not ceased to support the rebels. “These groups buy weapons on what is euphemistically called ‘the black market’ in China.”

He even claims that The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) chief Paresh Barua, who still evades arrest, stays in Chinese towns and travels freely across the country.  Lintner has met Barua thrice – Myanmar (1985), Bangkok (1992) and Dhaka (2010).

In his book, Linter writes,  China is providing Barua a safe haven because it argues that it is only “reciprocating India’s act of providing sanctuary for the Dalai Lama, allowing the enemy of one country to stay in the other.” India’s decision to give shelter to Dalai Lama in 1959 certainly did establish that “India is China’s enemy,” Lintner, who met Dalai Lama twice, stresses.

Lintner first met Dalai Lama at McLeodganj in Himachal Pradesh  in 1984 when he was touring India as a correspondent for a Danish daily.

Lintner’s India ties date back to 1975. That is also the year he visited Calcutta for the first time. Lintner’s mother is Swedish, his father an Austrian refugee from Nazi Germany. He was a political prisoner before he managed to escape to Sweden and, thereafter, left for Brazil. Lintner was six months old at the time.

“When I was 19, I managed to track him [his father] to a New Zealand address, where he had moved with his new family. It was to meet him that I left Sweden for the first time, in 1975, to travel to New Zealand, overland,” he says.

Lintner explored India by train and bus. He recalls how he stayed in a dormitory at the Salvation Army Red Shield Guest House on Calcutta’s Sudder Street for Rs 8 per night. He also suffered three bouts of dysentery and lost more than 20 kilos.

During that trip he caught another bug. Lintner claims it was Calcutta that inspired his 22-year-old self to become a writer.

“My favourite part of Calcutta is College Street with all its bookstores and the Indian Coffee House,” says the veteran journalist who has travelled the world before choosing for his home, Chiang Mai in Thailand, three decades ago. He is married to Hseng Noung, a Shan or ethnic person from Myanmar.

And that is not the only Myanmar connection he is known for. Globally, Lintner is known for his relentless reporting from Myanmar (erstwhile Burma). The military junta blacklisted him for 23 years, beginning 1989. He started visiting Myanmar again only recently, since 2013.

While it is easy to understand Lintner’s take on the Sino-India face-off, his views on Myanmar and the ousted Rohingyas are more layered, somewhat difficult to grasp and to process, thereafter.

For one, he does not seem outraged at the recent killings and exodus of Rohingyas from the Rakhine state of Myanmar. He does not even blame the National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who runs the Myanmar government, for failing to contain the sectarian violence unleashed against the Muslims by the Buddhists.

“There is a democratically elected government in Myanmar but three most important ministries – defence, home and border affairs – are controlled by the military. Suu Kyi has a very limited role to play,” says Lintner, who is the author of Outrage: Burma’s Struggle for Democracy.

But yes, he concedes, she could have visited the victims of violence, along with other elected representatives, to show the military there is also a civilian space in the country. So far, so good.

But prod him further and you learn that Lintner is not willing to dub the Rohingya situation a “religious” conflict at all.

The real problem is, he says, is that the Rohingyas live close to Bangladesh and they have many similarities with the natives of Chittagong there. “Rohingyas comprise only five per cent of the Muslim population in Myanmar. Most Muslims are in the cities; they are merchants, shopkeepers, professionals- they have Burmese names, they speak Burmese and they are Burmese citizens. Rohingyas are a rural community and they live in an area next to an overpopulated country, (where they have) exactly the same people on the other side of the border. They speak Bengali in Chittagong dialect, they don’t speak Burmese. Other Muslims (in Myanmar) see it like this — we have a small Rakhine state with 3.5 million people whereas next door, there is a country with 180 million people. It is a completely different story,” he explains.

And what, in his opinion, triggered the recent violence that led to the exodus of an estimated seven lakh people from Myanmar to Bangladesh?

Lintner now launches into an elaborate explanation of how on the night the Kofi Annan Commission Report came out this August – the same that asked Myanmar to scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship of the Rohingyas – the armed radical group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) attacked 30 police stations and one army base at Rakhine. “This triggered enormous backlash. Thousands of people have suffered because of this, but nobody is questioning the Arsa,” he says.

The insinuation is obvious – the Rohingyas are responsible for their own situation. And if there is any doubt about his stance in this debate, the next statement makes things clear as daylight. To a question about whether there will be a guaranteed safe passage for the Rohingyas to Rakhine state following the pact between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Lintner says, “First of all, they don’t want to come back. Plus, in order to return, they have to prove they are residents of Myanmar and not Bangladeshis. And they cannot prove that.” This last is a reference to the fact that in 2015, in Myanmar’s first census in 30 years, Rohingyas were not considered an ethnic group of the country.

I have heard him the first time and the second, and both arguments seem at variance with his professional persona. I keep talking to hide any apparent disappointment on my part.

Some Rohingyas have also come to India for shelter, but the Indian government doesn’t want them. India regards Rohingya Muslims a national security threat. I am yet to frame the question, but he is already dodging it, laughing. “Well, ask the Indian security agencies…”

This time, I cannot help but say it out aloud – so he is hell-bent on being politically correct when it comes to India? Is that it? “No, no… I am not here to talk about contemporary Indian politics. It is beyond the scope of my coverage… maybe, I will write about it in a book in future…”

Getting answers from journalists isn’t easy at all, but books are fair game.


1953: Lintner is born in Sweden and then in 1975 leaves for Asia

1980: Starts working as a journalist; is the Burma correspondent for the Hong Kong-based weekly, Far Eastern Economic Review

1984: Visits India as a correspondent for a Danish daily; covers the stand-off at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and also interviews Dalai Lama in McLeodganj

1985: Undertakes an 18-month, 2,275-kilometre trek from northeastern India across Burma’s northern rebel-held areas to China. Codifies this expe-rience in the 1996 book, Land of Jade: A journey from India through Northern Burma to China

Has written 17 books to date, including Bloodbrothers: Crime, Business and Politics in Asia and Aung San Suu Syi and Burma’s struggle for Democracy

A shorter version of the story has appeared in The Telegraph. December 17, 2017.


– To counter the current wave of hate and violence, and help fix a society often
out of joint, a new medicine in an old bottle. Sonia Sarkar tracks a global trend
First published on 10-Dec-2017  :
JOYFOOL: Participants at the clown festival in Mumbai

Siane Valini D’ Cruz paints her face pink, then fixes a red plastic ball firmly on the tip of her nose. Her chin is painted white to bring out the scarlet of her lips. Dressed in a purple jacket, yellow trousers and a pair of oversized red and yellow boots, the 17-year-old makes her entry. It is a children’s birthday party. As the music starts to play, she throws her juggling balls up in the air and whoops of joy fill the room.

“When a cranky child laughs, I believe, I have done my job well,” says Siane, a Mass Media student from Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College. Chris Saldanha is a BSc student from the same college. While Siane stumbled upon clowning, Chris took it up to earn a few bucks during the summer holidays two years ago – if he does five shows in a month, he makes about Rs 10,000. Professionals, we are told, make Rs 50,000 and upwards in a busy month. Both Siane and Chris are undergoing clown training.

Circuses may have disappea-red but clowning hasn’t. Martin D’ Souza, founder-director at the Mumbai-based entertainment company, Light House Entertainment and Mad Hatters, says clowning is gaining popularity across India.

What US-based clown Kenneth R. Ahern says of the West perhaps holds true of India too. His email to The Telegraph reads, “In the last decade there has been a growth of youth circus training camps throughout the US and Europe. This has moved circus artistes who have graduated from these schools to find both traditional and non-traditional performance venues to present their skills.” Ahern runs a clown camp annually at the Fine Arts Center of Viterbo University in Wisconsin.

With the change of setting, from circuses to malls, private parties, carnivals, family gatherings, we in India have a new set of clowns – educated middle-class youth such as Siane and Chris. The change in demographics, those in this business will tell you, has not taken away from the art, only imbued it with greater power, purpose and responsibility.

Pam Moody, president of the World Clown Association (WCA), talks about clowning as a teaching tool. She says, “Clown shows capitalise on emotions. It is proven that regardless of age, retention of messages is higher whenever an emotion is involved.” Moody herself began by presenting faith-based lessons through comedy. Her clown name is Sparky.

D’Souza, who runs training camps across India, talks about the large number of clowns involved in what is called “caring clowning”. They visit ailing children in hospitals, veterans in medical care facilities, hospice and rehabilitation center inmates.

The concept exists in other parts of the globe too. Edmund Khong, the first Singaporean to win the World Clown Association’s Best All-Round Clown this year, says, “I am exploring various avenues to teach Singaporeans caring clowning to serve the community. When the public recognises the positive impact clowning can create, it will slowly grow to be more widely accepted and welcomed.”

Moody remembers one time when she was performing in Chennai and a pregnant woman came up to her, took her hand and placed it on her belly and said, “Because of you, I laughed. My baby will be born more healthy now.”

D’ Souza’s clown persona is called Flubber, a master of all trades. Flubber can perform magic, do acrobatics, juggle, do balloon sculpting…

Since this brand of clowning is still nascent in India, D’Souza has been organising countrywide clown fests since 2010. At these fests, clowns of international renown perform. D’Souza, who has been clowning for the past 26 years, says, “What Indians are usually exposed to is slapstick, wherein two clowns slap each other or pat each other with a small bat – something we used to see in circuses. But this festival gets clowns from different parts of the world. Now, people here know that clowning is a serious act where clowns follow a script – perform a skit – engage with people.”

The idea of clowning, he says, is to get into funny difficult situations in the act and then come out of them – it’s this disentanglement process that makes people laugh.

Though D’Souza has been running Mad Hatter these past 27 years, he got himself a clown certificate in Clownology from the University of Wisconsin in the US in 2004.

But if being a good clown is all about having the right attitude, why this sudden urgency for structured training? Ahern says, “If a clown has done his or her job well, a wonderful memory is created. But this is not achieved by simply wearing a silly costume, clown make-up and a red nose. Creating this joy is best done through proper education.”

There is an entire genre of supernatural horror flicks that project the clown as an evil, deviant figure – Stephen King’s It and the new season of American Horror Story. But organisations such as the Sweden-based group Clowns Without Borders (CWB) and WCA are rallying against this portrayal.

Rupesh Tillu or Popo, as he is known in clowning circles, is younger than D’Souza, has an Master of Fine Arts in Physical Comedy from the National School of Dramatic Arts, Sweden. You might recognise him from the Ship of Theseus (2013) – he played Ajay, friend of Navin, one of the protagonists. He has travelled widely with CWB for performances. Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Moldova, Jordan, he rattles off names.

Tillu recounts the time he performed in a refugee camp at Zaatari in Jordan. It was the day after thousands of refugees arrived from Syria. Says Tillu, “It’s not easy to make anyone laugh and these were people who had fled their homes to escape war and walked miles for survival.”

Tillu’s Popo is a persona who is continuously in search of a home. Vulnerable and naive in a highly complicated world, he makes all efforts to fit in, but always ends up failing. Something touched a chord, resonated, because at the end of the act the children in the au-dience started jumping and shouting for joy. “It evoked so many emotions in them at one time,” he adds.

Back in India, Tillu is part of a CWB project in Mumbai’s redlight areas. He also trains children in clowning – recently, one such group toured with international artistes and performed in correctional homes and hospitals.

What do such acts mean to people, children especially, living in sub-normal conditions? Responds D’Souza, “A comedian makes you laugh at the expense of others. Clowns involve the audience and take them along in their journey of laughter. It’s a heart-to-heart connection which remains with you for a longer time.”

Innovative ways of getting in and out of relationships

Sonia Sarkar

A few weeks ago, a friend conducted a poll on Twitter. The question: If you had to end a friendship, what would you do – ghost or drift or confront or write a letter? To this, 53 per cent said they would like to drift, 20 per cent went with the letter option, 11 per cent chose to confront and 16 per cent said they would prefer to ghost. Ghosting, according to the, is the practice of ending a personal relationship by suddenly and without explanation ceasing all communication. Usage. “I thought ghosting was a horrible dating habit reserved for casual flings.”

Having been ghosted at least once, I could not agree more with the above sentence. But ask the person who ghosts and he or she would say it’s the easiest thing to do. Stop taking calls, stop replying to text messages, mail, stop explaining what went wrong, no hints, just cut yourself off. Easy.

Ghosting is a 21st century dating phenomenon. Since a fair many relationships these days are born off dating apps such as Tinder, happn, OkCupid, where you select soulmates with a left swipe or right, a lot of time is spent knowing each other just virtually. So when things lose their zing, it’s easier to ghost by “blocking” the person.

But if you are nodding and thinking this is a college-goer or a 20-something problem, you couldn’t be more wrong. You could be ghosted by a man in his 30s or 40s – we’ll come to the women in due course. Someone whose profile descriptor reads “progressive and liberal”. He could be a professor who loves to discuss Marxism over a glass of Old Monk or an engineer who is a self-proclaimed poet or a documentary filmmaker who looks genuinely concerned about the rise of young Right-wingers in the country. Then, just when you start to get along, one fine day, he disappears. And you are left wondering why such a “progressive and liberal” man hesitated to tell you that it’s not happening and he would like to move on. After all, you do deserve to know where you went wrong. What’s more, you might also like to hold on to that tiny little skein of hope that he might come back.

A friend who is aware of the trend has a theory. She says even liberal men get intimidated by career-minded independent women and find it difficult to handle them. They know such women will ask for a reason for the break-up and they do not have a convincing reason to offer. Does that mean women don’t ghost at all? No, they do too. The friend reasons, “Sometimes women think informing the other about the decision might force them to stick around longer and get stuck in this unnecessary but unavoidable rigmarole of accusations, counter accusations and sorting out. That is why they choose to disappear.”

Ghosting isn’t an Indian phenomenon either. In 2012, the Journal of Research in Personality, an academic journal focussing on personality psychology and published by Dutch publishing house Elsevier, listed “avoiding/withdrawing from contact with your partner – like not answering texts or calls” as one of the top break-up strategies the world over. Internationally, psychologists say, these days, everyone wants ways for “easy in” and “easy out”. You are most likely to be ghosted the moment you dare to ask, “Where is this going?”

Of course, if you have been there and done this long enough, you will be able to tell a ghost early on – guys who are effusive in private but refuse to even hold hands in public or someone who never makes definite plans to get together.

And it’s not a way to exit “casual flings” alone. Many choose to end steady relationships by ghosting. A friend was ghosted by an ambitious professional she dated for barely three months. The man, however, reconnected with her on several occasions thereafter for work. He follows her on Twitter. Over the past few years, he has sought her help for business contacts, inputs, information on a fellowship she cracked, etc. But not a word on why he disappeared and never replied to her personal messages.

Was he a coward to have avoided a confrontation or smart to keep the professional equation intact, or simply shameless to even ask for help from a person he dumped without any explanation?

So is this breadcrumbing?  if you go by this blog (, “breadcrumbing is essentially exactly what it sounds like: Leaving little tiny fictitious crumbs for another person to latch on to, leading them on even when you’re basically over it.” The writer further adds, ” Unlike ghosting, breadcrumbing doesn’t end all communication. Instead, breadcrumbing is the deceptive practice of giving someone just enough to keep them interested, even when you’re not. Breadcrumbing keeps someone around at your liking, taking the form of a half-hearted Instagram “like” once every two weeks, or even a text once every few months.”

Perhaps, these men who ghost or breadcrump won’t know these terms but they should certainly know that what they do amounts to emotional abuse.
But then, chin up girls…I am sure, by now, you know whom to avoid on dating sites — The phone is aflutter with new notifications and to swipe is but reflex action. Cheers!
( A version of the story appeared in The Telegraph, India. This article is an edited version after being published in The Telegraph)