Dating in Dhaka is fraught with many pitfalls. First off, there really isn't much to do besides going out for a meal. Whatever activity you ultimately decide on, however, the matter of finances usually comes into play. You don't want to go all out but you don't want a shabby experience either. Here are a few options:
Bowling and Ice Skating: Let's start off by breaking the age-old idea of meals for dates. Dates are for fun; the idea is to get to know the other person better and have a good time. The idea of going for bowling at Jamuna Future Park or ice skating at Bashundhara City seems like a much better way of having fun than trying to make stunted conversation while suffering from a bad case of nerves. The background noise takes away the pressure you'd probably be feeling and the friendly competition adds a bit of fun.
Movies: Going to the movies has been the ultimate go-to option for budding romances since the beginning of modern dating. It eases the strain of having to appear calm and collected -- a particularly difficult task if it's a first date. Courtesy of JFP and Star Cineplex, Dhaka dwellers are now able to enjoy movie-watching as conveniently as people worldwide.
Art: Admittedly, this is a rather unconventional option that may only appeal to the more artistic-minded. Nonetheless, the film screenings, book launchings, poetry readings, the unplugged concert every now and then and of course, art exhibitions at Bengal Art Gallery provide amazing opportunities to bond for lovers with eclectic tastes.
Well…Food: Unfortunately, that about exhausts the list of places you could enjoy without having a sit-down meal. This brings us to the more traditional form of getting to know one another over a table laden with food. Following are some places in the city that manage to maintain a balance of good food and nice atmosphere, usually within a budget of Tk 1000 or less.
Tucked away in a street of Gulshan 1, Kiva Han is a more cozy alternative to the more famous Gloria Jean's or North End Roasters, allowing for more privacy and less chances of running into the majority of your friend circle while on a date.
Bittersweet, in Gulshan 2, has an aura of casual hip. The place is comfortable, with food items as colourful as its atmosphere. You could go in and order a cup of coffee or some other fun beverage (Oreo Shake if you have amazing taste), or go for the many other reasonably priced food items.
Recently opened on Banani Road 11, Fool's Diner is a rather small and artistically intriguing restaurant that has taken Dhaka's foodie circles by storm with its array of Asian cuisine. You can easily get Chinese or Thai food in any corner of the city, but here is a place that serves sushi without leaving your pockets empty. Prayers answered.
There is nothing like a little music to liven up the atmosphere. Mixing the joys of good food with live music, The Stage in Dhanmondi is another great venue for a date. As well as providing a pleasant ambience, the place also allows you to discover each other's tastes in music, among other things.
The places to visit are many, the list of restaurants and cafes endless. While I do wish that Dhaka had more to offer in terms of fun activities, the people of Dhaka continue to have a great time regardless. We are indeed a loving bunch. May the love keep spreading, but perhaps along with some fresher ideas for fun too?