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The man with (365) dates

nandini nair | Updated on January 23, 2018

Chennai’s Barney: Sunder Ramu marks each date with a photo and write-up on his Facebook page

Chennai’s Barney Sunder Ramu marks each date with a photo and write-up on his Facebook page

Ever felt bad about your dating life? Sunder Ramu will make you feel worse

Chennai-based Sunder Ramu’s Facebook page would be the envy of many a man. When we last checked, he was on date 93 of 365. The hero of Project365 has the rather simple — if a tad arrogant — goal of going on 365 dates with women this year. The modus operandi of this photographer and actor is that the women plot, plan and pay (when required) for the date, and the money that he saves goes to charity. Trawling through his FB page, it is easy to see why this idea has caught on. He has gone on dates with his 105-year-old grandmother, he has shared a meal with the woman who collects garbage in his building, has eaten crab curry with politician Stalin’s wife. And of course, he has enjoyed many a meal, jog, run, dance, car drive, boat ride, with all too many a nubile lady. We caught up with him online, to ask him what his deal really is. Edited excerpts:

What is your definition of a date?

A date for me is a one-on-one meeting to get to know someone better. A meal, a walk, a play, anything that can help you connect.

You mention that you find the present dating scenario flawed. Tell us more about that.

More than flawed I feel that there are too many misconceptions and expectations about dating. We have largely moved away from the arranged marriage culture but seem to be unsure of what dating is.

It can’t only be something you do to fish for a spouse or a physical relationship or any other big expectations. We are struggling to connect. And the environment has not been conducive or safe for getting to know people face-to-face. The opposite gender does not need to be met with an agenda.

So this is my journey to see if I can crack the code. For myself first and, in the process of sharing the experience on social media, maybe people will move away from having a relationship with their phones and learn to reconnect with friends, family, strangers, etc.

You let the women decide the venue, activity, menu, etc. If you were to take someone out, how would you spend the day?

I would ideally love a long drive to a water body with good music. A long uncluttered drive always connects you because there is no one else around and it is very relaxing. You can chat, stare out of the window, sing along or have long stretches of comfortable silence because you are right next to each other but don’t have to look at each other.

It normally ends up being awkward if you are facing each other in a restaurant and have nothing to say. Then I would love to eat by a sea, river, stream or a cliff overlooking the ocean. And the drive back is always a great time to recap or connect before you drop her back. Somehow it also signifies a journey so you feel like you’ve shared more than just one conversation.

Isn’t 365 too large a number? Isn’t there a chance that you are going to be jaded rather than enriched at the end of this?

I’ve enjoyed each day individually. Especially since it’s a fresh person and a fresh conversation every day. It’s very liberating and I feel so loved and my faith in people is restored each passing day. Having said that, the day I feel jaded, I will step away for a while or stop completely, regardless of the number of dates. It’s not fair for any girl to meet a jaded guy.

Tell us about your longest (eight-hour) date.

That date was with a stranger called Preethi Thomas. She planned a fabulous date that started with us driving off in the night to a fishing space on the outskirts of Chennai, close to Mahabalipuram. We then learnt fishing and shooting and had a great meal cooked with fresh fish and idlis. We chatted like long-lost friends in between long bouts of comfortable silence, as we hung out by the fishing spot accompanied by a handsome Rottweiler and a bunch of strays.

What happens if you don’t want a date to end?

Well, that’s the case in most of the dates. But like a relationship, a date ends when one person wants it to or has to end it, so I accept that and enjoy every moment as much as I can. Personally, I like a date to end when you don’t want it to so you leave wanting more.

If a woman were trying a similar project, of dating 365 men, how easy or difficult would it be for her?

I think it would definitely be easier for her to find men saying ‘yes’. But the interpretation or the safety aspect of it would be the difference.

A married woman from Kerala got in touch and told me that she was inspired to start her version of the 365 dates. She asked me the same question. I would say that if you communicate your intentions clearly in the beginning you might be able to pull it off and that it will be a very interesting journey.

Have any of your dates turned into stalkers? Or has anyone fallen into fits of jealousy?

Haha. Not yet, thankfully.

It’s amazing how supportive and non-competitive everyone has been.

I am sure some dates have proved to be terribly dull. How did you bail?

You know, when people are condensing 21 to 105 years of life experiences into a couple of hours with exciting new cuisines, it’s very difficult to feel bored.

Published on May 08, 2015

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