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Meet the artist who’s turning 100 stories from Tinder into art

Artist Indu Harikumar is turning the experiences of Indians on Tinder — good, bad and ugly — into clever illustrations

HT48HRS_Special Updated: May 11, 2016 23:20 IST
HT48Hours,Tinder,Tinder India
“A little late, it is as difficult to draw #Andheri (e) as it is to get there. Day 15 of #100IndianTinderTales”(Photo courtesy: Indu Harikumar)

Forget the Tinder ad. Discover artist Indu Harikumar’s work instead. She’s turning the experiences of Indians on Tinder — good, bad and ugly — into clever illustrations

You swipe right. You exchange numbers. You go on a date to that new bar everyone’s been talking about. What happens on this date can either lead you to your soul mate (statistically, chances are slim, but who knows), or turn into one of the many attempts at finding true love in the time of Tinder. But these moments — sometimes funny, sometimes moving — inspired Mumbai-based artist Indu Harikumar (36) to start the online art project #100IndianTinderTales.

And it’s definitely more layered, and clever than Tinder’s widely panned ad.

Harikumar started the project with four stories, from her own experience of using Tinder when in Europe, and a few others sourced from her friends. “I didn’t think I’d be able to churn out enough stories, so I reinstalled Tinder on my phone,” she says. She’d earlier uninstalled the app within 24 hours of using it after being bothered by men, most of them “outright creepy”, she says.

With more than 20 illustrations already up on her Facebook and Instagram page, Harikumar is now confident of sustaining the project till she reaches 100. “This time I decided to stay and not be offended. I’d like to talk to folks, engage and be open about who I am and why I am on Tinder; also date and have some fun,” she adds.

For the art of love

The illustrations are often striking, with a central theme grabbing your attention. For instance, when the artist wrote about meeting a Polish-Indian traveller in Andheri (E), she captured the chaos that is generally associated with the suburb through depictions of traffic jams and high-rises stacked up in a row. Then, for the story about a user looking for a hairstylist through Tinder, the artist chose to keep it simple with just a pair of scissors running through untamed hair.

Day 10 of #100IndianTindertales. Tindering to find salons. By @Tinder user from Delhi. "I moved to my new house in Delhi over the weekend. That Saturday there was a lot of power cut and I was getting bored at home. I remembered how my friend was bragging about how he was getting 'lucky' that weekend . He had been using Tinder for quite a while but this was his only lucky weekend. So anyway..I thought i'll create a profile and see what it's like. Once I logged in, I realized this might actually be a good place to ask people about Delhi and things to do in Delhi. At that point the thing on top of my list was to get a haircut. So I swiped right some 'nice' men and pretty much all the women who showed up in my circle. One of them refused to believe that I was a woman. She kept asking me to come on Skype and record a message . In the middle of all this, I still tried to wean information regarding places to get a haircut. She didn't agree and unmatched me, she thought I was a man! Another girl thought I was being trivial by logging in and asking people for places to get a haircut. Anyway I asked 3 women for places for haircut and nobody answered my question. Then I swiped right some 2 men. One of them actually turned out to be chill and we went to eat cake at this awesome place the other day. We talked bullshit and not sex that was a good thing. Another one I swiped right because he liked comics. When I asked him which comics, he said ' DC comics' and I was like, 'meh'. Then I forgot to unmatch him. Everyday he would message a good morning. I ignored him. Yesterday he finally gave in and sent me a dirty message about how he wanted to kiss my neck and lick my pussy. I wasn't angry when I read it but I felt icky. So anyway that was Tinder for me :p nomo tinder for me. I am committed." _____________________________________ These have been crowd sourced. If you'd like to share your experience, screenshot, please feel free. You could be a local or expat using the dating app in India or you could be an Indian using the app abroad. This is just to curate various experiences and is a personal project. #illustration #dailydrawing #The100DayProject

A photo posted by Indu Harikumar (@induviduality) on

“This project is different from anything I’ve done before. I wanted to try something devoid of [too much] colours, keep it easy on the eye,” says Harikumar. In the past, she has illustrated children’s books, as well as a colouring book for grown-ups called Beauty Needs Space. She draws a lot of inspiration from artists like René Magritte, Gustav Klimt and Mario Miranda. “I want to draw Edward Munch’s Scream in an Indian setting soon,” she says.

Finding love

Though the illustrations deal with hush-hush topics like sex and sexuality, Harikumar keeps them non-offensive with her witty interpretations. While most of them are light-hearted, there are some tearjerkers too. “A girl shared a story about a person she matched on Tinder but never met. They grew close over five months. And one day she stopped hearing from him. After four days, she called his office to find out that he’d died in an accident,” recalls Harikumar. This was also the story she struggled to illustrate the most.

Harikumar, who is on Tinder (at least till she manages to reach 100 illustrations), now is often asked by her dates if the dating app is sponsoring her, or if she’s here “for research”. “I am only looking to document urban desire, romance, drama, vileness, misogyny, and perversion, that such a medium is open to. But the best part of this project has been hearing from various women. Women who feel vulnerable about putting themselves out there looking for love, sex, connections,” she says.

Indu Harikumar

A tale of love and loss between a Mumbai girl and a Delhi boy who never met but only spoke for five months. Before they were to meet, he passed away in an accident.

Harikumar’s Tinder experience in Vienna with a date, who introduced her to local art, while keeping a 10-inch distance, worried of “corrupting Indian culture”.

Day 9 of #100indiantindertales I have written about him earlier. Something he said became the title of my book. Yes, this one is about the 'Beauty Needs Space'  Viennese guy from Tinder. This story is still frightfully special and here it is. In my first few days in Vienna, my Russian flatmate  said, "You MUST HAVE a European lover " and pushed me to try @Tinder. I was jet lagged and woke up at 4 am every morning and had nothing to do. So I installed the app and decided to check it out. Like a noob I would check everything before I swiped right, I almost imagined the men I right swiped would be at my doorstep and that was a scary thought. The criteria was the same - face, age, bio. Guy without a bio had little chance of getting swiped right. He didn't have a bio but he reminded me of a half Dutch-half Punjabi guy I knew back home and was curious if it was him. We had a match and he couldn't stop gushing over having this exotic person as a match. After the regular set of of questions, he asked: "What would you like to see in #Vienna?" " Gustav Klimt's Kiss, I have loved it from the time I was 17." "Did you know he lived in our neighbourhood?" We were both in the 7th district in Vienna. I was elated  to be living in the same neighbourhood as my hero. I also mentioned my love for  Rilke and he quickly wrote out a Rilke line in German. "For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so, because it serenely disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible." (Now he tells me that's the only one he knows.) Looks-wise he was okay... a lot paler than the person I knew back home but with #Klimt and #Rilke, he had scored. "What are you doing this Sunday?" "Hmm.. nothing much as of now." "Would you like to come walking with me?" Wow! This was the first person who had  asked me to go walking. They all wanted to meet for drinks (which for me was scary) or drink coffee (which I don't drink). "Sure!" "Thank you for making my day and not turning me down." (1 /n)

A photo posted by Indu Harikumar (@induviduality) on

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If you wish to submit your experience or follow the project, visit or

I travelled from upmarket South #Delhi to #Faridabad for more than a year, no one told me such romeos existed. *cries in a corner* Day 23 of #100IndianTinderTales . V from #Faridabad shares his tale. "I hopped onto @Tinder after breaking up from a very long relationship. I guess it was the right thing to do. I mean, what's a better way of getting over having one pretty girl not talking to you than having hundreds of pretty girls not talking to you? Anywho, my initial experiences weren't great. Most of the girls I matched with either didn't respond to my messages, or even if they did and we ended up having decent conversations, they never agreed to meet, for reasons ranging from 'I have a boyfriend' to 'I don't meet people from Tinder', 'I don't have time to meet' and 'I've put on a lot of weight'. :| Finally, I came across a girl that I hit off incredibly well with. I ended up having uncharacteristically smooth conversations with her, and we found out that we have a lot in common, such as our love for puns, and that we were both engaged in the development sector. She also told me that she is a fan of Ted Mosby from the TV series How I Met Your Mother. A meeting was set up. Now, for those of you who haven't seen #HowIMetYourMother, Ted Mosby has a penchant for grand romantic gestures. So naturally, for my first Tinder date ever, I decided to go with a huge banner bearing the girl's name, and held it over my head at the spot where we were supposed to meet. When she arrived and saw me and, with an amused expression, started walking towards me, I put the theme music of the 1970 Hollywood movie Love Story on at full volume on a portable speaker that I was carrying, beside me. When she reached me, I got down on a knee, took hold of her hand and kissed it, and presented to her a small box that on opening revealed a toffee inside. While all of this was happening, a small crowd gathered around us (this was during evening time at the SDA market in Delhi). (1/n) #illustration #The100DayProject #drawing #dailydrawing #dating #datingstories #datingapps #tinderIndia #tinder

A photo posted by Indu Harikumar (@induviduality) on

First Published: May 11, 2016 00:00 IST