There is absolutely nothing wrong with using Apps or Websites to find dates, hook-ups or whatever tickles your fancy; in fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in this day and age who hasn’t used such service. But when you’re not looking for one of the above, and you’re using a website which doesn’t have setting people up with each other as its intended purpose, the whole experience is a bit strange.
I’ve used Couchsurfing in the past.
Back in 2013, not wanting to land in what was reported to be one of the world’s most dangerous cities, Caracas, and have to navigate my own way through the streets to find a hotel, I contacted a lovely girl called Cristina who agreed to host me for a few nights. Not only did she host me, but she picked me up from the airport in the middle of the night, drove me to her place, brought me breakfast in bed the next morning and included me in every aspect of her life for the next three days. It was the best first-time Couchsurfing experience I could have wished for!
In 2014 during my trip to Jordan, again using Couchsurfing my friends and I arranged a homestay at a Bedouin cave for a night. At the last minute we ended up staying with the Couchsurfing host’s nephew instead of him, but nevertheless the whole experience was brilliant and never would have happened if it wasn’t for Couchsurfing!
In advance of my upcoming trip (two weeks today, aaah!) and in order to find a way to see the desired countries through the eyes of a local as opposed to a tourist, I’ve once again turned to Couchsurfing. Not necessarily to find hosts, but to find people who would maybe want to meet up for a coffee and show me around town.
And oh my days, I don’t know what’s happened!
Whether in the eighteen months since last logging on the whole concept of the site has changed, or maybe it’s the part of the world I plan on going to but I have never received so many odd proposals. Mostly dates, but not just.
In the last week I’ve had over 70(!!!!) messages from men all over India and Sri Lanka offering me all sorts: dinner, a movie, a personal tour guide, Ayurvedic massage, even a free haircut!!
I’m sure that a lot of the offers are from genuine, kind people who just want to help out a stranger, but I can’t help but think that not everybody has honourable intentions. For example, 54-year old Ajith, who has been a member of the site since 2011 but has no references, no friends and just one photo of the back of his head, wants to take me camping in some hills. Sorry Ajith but I don’t think I’ll be taking you up on the offer.
Other than Ajith a lot of the requests seem odd, but harmless. Like the “big-time director” who wants to offer me a role in the Bollywood movie (I’ve googled him: no results) he’s about to shoot in Tamil Nadu, or the guy who said he would “really like to host you and your friend” despite my profile saying I’m travelling alone. Unless he wants me to fly a friend out with me? Who knows?!
Then there are, of course, the masses of offers to take me out for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely love to go out for dinner with a friend in country who could tell me all sorts of interesting things about the place, but the requests aren’t always platonic.
“Hi Rhia, you beautiful girl. I would love for dinner with you? ;)”
Let me tell you Mr. Rahul: that is not the way you ask a girl out on a first date!
Of all the messages received so far, only one has been from a girl. It’s a phenomenon. I would be so interested to see the ratio of men to women users on the site, just to see if it’s a general thing or location-specified on this occasion.
At the end of the day, I’m not using Couchsurfing to find a date, I just want somebody to tell me the best places to get sadhya! But honestly, if any girls read this and are in need of an ego boost, sign up to Couchsurfing!