Love in the Time of Being Single

Anisha Rachel Oommen
Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment

There’s a theory that believes Valentine’s Day really belongs to single people. Could that be true? Through the pink haze of heart-shaped balloons and candle-light dinners for two, do singles really stand a chance of surviving, let alone owning, V-day?

As I chatted with some friends earlier this month, I realized (not without some delight) that the tide had slowly turned; celebrating love, life and everything in between, my friends were breaking some rules and reclaiming the meaning of Valentine’s day.

Host a cookout
Megha Trikha, a believer in the notion that if you don’t love yourself most days of the year, one fancy-named day really isn’t going to make much difference. Tired of hearing her girlfriends complain about spending V-day alone, she decided to drive home a point: “Valentine’s is about love. It’s about pampering your soul whether or not you’re with someone.” So she’s cooking up a delicious Thai meal with four of her favourite gals; a reminder that love comes in many forms, and should be cherished in every one of them.

Go on a date with a friend
Ramya Rajaram, who’s never short on dates, says her most memorable Valentine was dinner with a girlfriend at the new Japanese restaurant in town, sipping on Japanese cola and tea. “Girl-talk and V-day (or any day for that matter) is a combination that never lets you down!”

This isn’t an option limited to women, though. Guys, pick up the phone and call a friend – bros’ night out or dinner with a great girl friend. You needn’t wait for romance to make V-day count.

Do something decadent
“Valentine’s is about love, right? And not just love between a boy and a girl. It’s as much about loving yourself,” says Amrita Narang, a young psychology professor. Every Valentine, she makes sure to treat herself to something special: a funky dupatta, a good bottle of wine or a stylish piece of jewelry. If you’re feeling a bit more generous, indulge in a day-long spa or get yourself that new gadget you’ve been eyeing. “As for my friends who aren’t single,” she says with a wink, “I get them some lacy lingerie or something a little naughty to make sure they enjoy a steamy Valentine too!”

Throw a singles party
Keith Coutino, a designer from Bombay, usually throws a barbecue party and invites all his single friends over. It was such a hit the first time that it has now become a regular tradition. “We make a day of it - I ask everyone to bring a friend along, so there are lots of single guys and girls. We make some sangria, enjoy the barbecue, it’s always good fun!” In fact, last year’s party even saw a little romance, he discloses. “A really good friend brought along a girl to the party with him last Valentine, and they totally hit it off! They’re getting married later this year.” Love at a singles party, anyone?

Nishanth Verghese, however, is a little more cautious. He recommends heading over to a friend’s house for an all-night boys-only drinkathon. Why exclusively all-boys? “Well, when there are single girls around, there are usually a few bad decisions that have to be accounted for the next morning,” he grins. “Best to stay clear of trouble.”

Host an Anti-Valentine’s day party
Don’t subscribe to V-day, but still want a reason to have some fun? We have just the thing for you! Mariyam Thomas who hosts the weekend brunch on Radio One tells us about her first Anti-Valentine’s party. “The idea of having one day to celebrate love is so ridiculous; we should be doing it all year round! So my friends – who are actually a couple – decided to host an anti-Valentine’s day party! They invited a whole bunch of us, singles and twosomes, and we partied it up!”

One Billion Rising
Aarthi Parthasarthy, film-maker with the Kabir Project and firm non-believer in the commercial definition of V-day, says this is the first Valentine that she will be doing something significant – she plans to participate in the movement called One Billion Rising. “With everything that’s been happening in India these past couple of months, a movement like One Billion Rising, to end violence against women, will ensure the momentum stays strong. OBR is a first of its kind, and will be the largest global uprising ever. The exciting thing about it is that it brings people together in a creative, uplifting way – through dance. Bangalore is taking it one step further – there will be art, poetry, music, drums and dancing. Considering the negative way in which Valentine’s Day is viewed by a large part of the country, this is also a great way to take the day and reclaim it for women.”

So if you’re looking to do something meaningful this year, look up the One Billion Rising event in your city and head over with a friend. Change what V-day stands for altogether!

Follow the adventure
The truly daring can take a cue from Shreya Roy, a broadcast journalist, who says she has always found adventure on Valentine’s Day. “I’ve dated people before and after, but I’ve always been single on the 14th of Feb. Yet, I’ve always had the most amazing Valentine’s!”

“In 2011, I was actually working on the 14th of Feb. I went to cover the aero show in Bangalore and got invited to ride in a giant US aircraft, surrounded by dreamy 6-ft- something guys, all wishing me a happy Valentine since I was the only girl on board!”

“In 2012, it was even better. A friend and I were doing a trip across north India, and we had just lost a lot of money in Pushkar. We were pretty dejected as we took a train to Ajmer, broke and hungry. But we were in for a real surprise. A man at the durgah heard our story, felt sorry for us, and invited us in. We found warmth and kindness when we least expected it, and spent Valentine’s day sharing tea and snacks with strangers, listening to Sufi singers until the sun came up.”

So if you’re suffering from Single Melodrama and worried about forgetting how to kiss - don’t be! There’s a heap of fun things to do and only so little time to do it. Happy V-day!