Meeting people can be hard, especially if you’ve recently moved to somewhere new. That’s why so many people turn to dating apps such as Tinder or Hinge. It’s also why Indian immigrant Vandita Agarwal decided to take matters into her own hands. She found that immigration in Ireland was difficult, often accompanied by a natural feeling of disconnect from someone’s own people and culture. So, Vandia set up D8 Indian. At first, the site was just supposed to help Indian immigrants connect in Dublin but has now blossomed into one of the hottest rising dating spots in the country.
Vandita was gracious enough to tell us a little about her story.
Tell us a little about yourself?
“My name is Vandita Agarwal. I was originally from India. I was brought up there but moved to Ireland for my Master’s degree (in digital media management). Since then I’ve been here for almost six years now.”
What do you think of Ireland?
“To be honest, when I first moved to Ireland it was quite stunning. It was a place for me to dream and build something. A land of opportunity. Now after six years, more like five and a half years really, I feel more confident. As a place to be, I find it to be my zone. I find that Ireland is a great place to be.”
In your own words, tell us all about D8 Indian?
“So D8 Indian is the first ever dating site created for Indians living in Ireland, with a mission to empower them to mingle and talk to people. So they don’t feel lonely or isolated in this environment. So basically, I’ll tell you from personal experience, and from the research and documentation our company has been doing for a good three years, what happens is that people come over here and they tend to form their own small groups. They end up just mingling in those small groups. It builds a sort of psychological fragmentation between the demographics”.
“We have with D8 Indian three types of demographics. That’s 18-25, 25-31, 30-40. We organise and combine those in similar settings, so they can meet potential partners, friends or even just network as a couple. So they don’t feel isolated while in another land, away from their family“.
“When we talk about cultural ethnicity or background, most people will connect with those who share their origin. Same food habits, same entertainment habits, same upbringing, etc. You think in the same manner so you connect with them easier than you would connect with others. As people are growing we are integrating more, and our mission at D8 Indian is to promote integration in the country of Ireland as much as possible”.
How did the site start?
“So the site was altered as a mingling platform for other students. We were organising events like Bollywood parties, speed dating nights, back in the day to get people in and help them mingle. We started to invest more in the site to make it more user-friendly, to assess the psychological needs of people living in this country. The Indians moving to Ireland, looking to build a future, it’s a new experience for them. The problems they are facing, the things they are interacting with, are quite different to what they faced in the past. So we’re trying to help them integrate within the app”.
Is integration something that you feel passionate about?
“That’s our primary goal, to help people integrate into the Irish environment. Because most people have the Indian psychology. So they will never make an effort to integrate with the Irish people. So they end up living here all their life, isolated within their own mindset. So with the app, we are trying to introduce more and more Irish experiences into their culture. So they can experience the outer world which they are really here for”.
Is that something that you struggled with?
“100%, yes. I won’t deny it. When I first moved here, my habits, my thinking, my pattern, it was all very much from South Asian countries. How we grew up and how we see the world. Then I moved here and my interactions were mainly with the Irish citizens, and I didn’t really have any South Asian people around me. I was sharing my space with Irish people (rented accommodation), my college was all Irish people, my colleagues and work were all Irish people too”.
“So when you talk about my integration journey, it has changed completely toward the Irish nation. I moved here when I was 20 and I was still growing up. So my development has really been the result of a mixed culture, which I want to promote to everyone who comes here”.
What are the major differences between dating India vs. Ireland?
“Oh, there’s a huge difference between the two countries. Ireland is more open and communicative, but when you go back to India the people aren’t as open. About what they do, what they think, or believe. So when we talk about dating scenes, back in India people are engaged hugely with their families. So when you’re getting married, it’s not too personal. It’s more two families getting married”.
“But when we talk about Irish people or Irish culture, it’s more about the connection between two individuals. Who want to spend their lives together and create a future. So in order to connect the two people beyond the psychology of their family, this site creates a safe space to get together and talk and reveal themselves”.
What would be your ultimate long-term goal for the site?
“The ultimate long-term goal is to connect as many people as possible, and to upgrade the site going forward. We try to stay mindful of what people are actually going through in their lives, what their needs are, and to upgrade the site with that in mind so that they can better connect with others”.
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So is the site open to everyone?
“It is open to everyone. Anyone who is interested in getting to know South Asian cultures and helping their people to integrate. We have researched about 200 people and most of the people brought up here in Ireland seem interested in getting to know South Asian cultures and people. Their habits, beliefs, etc. So our site welcomes everyone”.